Rishton Reservoir

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From Park and Dam
Image 1 - The view of the Reservoir from Cutt Wood Park.
Image 2 - The dam holding the water back in May 2002.

Fishing on the Reservoir is here.

Bird Watching on the Reservoir is here.

iconRishton Reservoir.

This video clip shows the old Rishton Power Station at Whitebirk before demolition, as well as a little bit of what the park looked like. Taken in 1960, the train which crosses the reservoir was one of the first diesel engines to run on the East Lancashire Railway.

Rishton Reservoir was constructed in 1828. Its primary use was to store water to supply the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which had been constructed some 10 years earlier. The reservoir is fed by two streams flowing from the Cowhill area of Rishton, a sluice gate in the Northern side opens for canal top ups.

Boating on the reservoir.

The area of land for the reservoir is 37 acres, and is just 2 miles to the East of Blackburn. Its Ordnance Survey grid reference is SD715300.

In 1839 the level of the reservoir was raised, to try and compensate for the traffic. Even after new reservoirs had been built along the canals length, the reservoir was raised again in 1854.

The reservoir is still owned by British Waterways, and is one of 3 reservoirs along the 127 miles of the canal.

It is from the reservoir that the area takes its name. The reservoir was once a hollow marsh before being flooded with water for the canal, and the Saxon word for this is CUTTLACHE.

From the tops and Cunliffe
Image 1 - Looking to Cunliffe from the park in December 2002.
Image 2 - Here's the reservoir in January 2001, this picture was taken from the trees at the top of close brow, known as Top O’ th’ Heights.

Sliced in two by the railway, it originally crossed the reservoir by means of a timber viaduct with openings 12 feet wide and a total span of 18 openings. This was replaced in 1858, when the reservoir was drained for cleaning. This has been changed in recent years and pipes now run under the railway track to connect the lakes.

In 1855 a fair was held on Rishton reservoir when the ice was 2 feet thick. Tiplady recalled at the time -

'Jan 18th 1855 - There was a sort of fair held upon the Great Reservoir at Rishton where from 8 to 10,000 people visited…the ice was 2 feet thick and thousands of skaters were upon it…Feb 23rd - the water froze close to my bedside and split the water jug.' (Cottontown.org)

In 1871, after a prolonged frost, people were known to be skating by torch light on the reservoir.

To the right is a photo of the reservoir as it looked in January 2001.

Stories about the reservoir include 4 drowned on Sunday 30th January 1870. Hundreds of people took to the frozen reservoir, when the ice cracked beneath a group of nine people holding hands. Helpers used tree branches and coats to rescue five, but 3 women and 1 man were drowned. An inquest was held the following Tuesday at the Walmsley Arms.

On Christmas day 1887, another skating incident occurred. The wife of William King, the carting agent at Blackburn, drowned.

Another incident on the reservoir occurred on June 28th in 1914 when Mr. J. W. Jones of Holywell Street in Blackburn was involved in a yachting accident and subsequently drowned.

The little res
Image 1 - Little Reservoir in July 2001, full.
Image 2 - Little Reservoir in October 2003, empty.

On the 7th August 1944 2 men were drowned in the reservoir while fooling about with 3 other men in a boat. Billy Brierley I am told lost his life that day, while two of the others in the boat were Birtwhistle and Almond.

Between Easter Monday and 10th May 1890 three hundred Loch Leven trout were landed from the waters. Each one over eight inches in length. One angler alone caught 38 in one day.

In June 1893 thousands of people turned up to listen to the Rishton Nightingale. The woods were full of attentive listeners between the hours of 9pm and 3am, even though many had to go to work the following morning. The Rishton Anglers Association charged one-penny entrance fee one Saturday and collected £6-18s-5d, which adds up to 1661 pennies. So what was it? Rumour had it that a well-known Rishton prankster was responsible for the sweet notes of a warbler

The Reservoir is also home to the East Lancashire Sailing Club.

Sailing Club
Image 1 - East Lancashire Sailing Club in the Sunset in June 2003.
Image 2 - Yachts on the reservoir.

A sketch plan was submitted for a proposed cabin adjoining the sailing water at Whitebirk for the Miniature Yacht & Power Boat Club. The plan was approved as a temporary building for 3 years on the 1st June 1939, under the council bye-laws subject to the submission of satisfactory plans.

Swoop on Booze Hot Spot

On Wednesday 24th May 2006, POLICE seized hundreds of pounds worth of alcohol from under-age drinkers as part of a new clampdown.

The move came after reports of groups of up to 60 youngsters drinking alcohol and causing disruption to residents in areas around Cut Wood Park.

Great Harwood police drafted in extra officers to target the disorderly behaviour, which was taking place on Friday and Saturday nights.

Over one weekend officers seized hundreds of cans of beer along with bottles of alcopops and cider.

They were confiscated in a series of operations around Rishton.

There had been reports of juveniles swimming in Rishton Reservoir and running on to train tracks whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Police said they were worried that it was only a matter of time before someone was seriously hurt.

Criminal damage in the area had also increased which was believed to be a direct result of the drunken behaviour.

PC Stuart Welch of Great Harwood Police said: "This problem stems from youths asking passers by to purchase alcohol for them from local off-licences. I would like to remind anybody who has been approached that this in itself is a criminal offence for which you could receive a fixed penalty fine. I urge people not to purchase any alcohol and report the matter to Great Harwood Police. I would also like to make a plea to parents to make sure they know where their children are and what they are doing as most juveniles stated their parents were unaware of their whereabouts."

The move was part of the Lancashire Constabulary's operation Summer Nights, the county-wide crackdown on alcohol related anti-social behaviour.

Fishing on the Reservoir


Tench   Carp   Bream >    Roach >   Perch >   Pike

a few    20lb   doubles >     3lb >       2lb >      30lb

Image 1 - Overflow channel leading away from the Reservoir in May 2002.
Image 2 - The overflow gate at the back of the reservoir in May 2002.


This venue holds roach to nearly 3lb, bream to double figures, carp 20lb, perch 2lb, pike 30lb and a few tench. Contains a large head of fish, popular with match, pleasure and specimen hunters. Feeder fished caster produces bream nets to 60lb. Waggler and pole fished maggot and pinkie tempts roach and perch.

Restrictions: - Not Known


NUMBER OF PEGS: -The reservoir is 37 acres in size.


HOW TO BOOK: - Telephone Hyndburn & Blackburn Angling Association on 01254 397448, 01706 224211.

NEAREST PUB - Rishton Arms on Station Road.

TICKETS:- Day tickets:- None

Season tickets:- £37 adult, £11 juniors, from local tackle shops.

DIRECTIONS:- From Blackburn, take the A678 towards Clayton-le-Moors. Turn left into Cut Lane. The fishery is on the left.

Birds on the reservoir


Lancashire evening telegraph

A Chronology of Accrington and Men of Mark, by R. S. Crossley, Published 1924.

Rishton on Record, the Festival of Britain 1951.

East Lancashire Bird Watching web site. (No longer working http://www.eastlancsbirding.co.uk/main/rishtonres.htm)

Cotton town website