Water Supplies in Rishton

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The township did not have its own facilities and the Accrington Gas and Water Company that had works and reservoirs in Great Harwood supplied these services.

1841 Accrington Gas and Waterworks company formed.

Apart from a few farms that obtain their water from springs, the Calder water board controls the rest of Rishton’s water supply. This board covers the areas of Accrington, Burnley, Nelson, Colne and Rishton. (In the year 2000 this company is now United Utilities, formerly North West Water).

The water supply to Rishton is obtained from the Dean Reservoir (point A on fig 6). It is then filtered at Cliffe treatment works (point B). From this treatment works it is pumped to Smalley thorn service reservoir (point C), which has a capacity of one million gallons. From this reservoir the supply gravitates through an 8-inch diameter pipe, via Smallshaw Hey (point D) and Norden bridge to supply the town of Rishton.

Now the water supply is owned by United Utilities, who were formerly North West Water (see later)


Water had been pumped from Rishton Colliery no, 1 shaft, from 1941 when the pit closed, to the dean reservoir at great Harwood, the water from the pit was taken to the dean reservoir in Great Harwood from October, 1934 at a rate of 1,000,000 gallons daily.

In 1960 the coal board obtained permission from the Dunkenhalgh estate to demolished some of the buildings to install 2 new electric pumps to pump the water to Dean Reservoir. The National Coal Board owned the mine, but the Dunkenhalgh owned the land. The buildings demolished were part of the mines headgear.

Later the water from the pit was also used by the Rishton paper mill. This water was pumped to Rishton paper mill until it closed.

Water was completely stopped in 1966, when the pump houses were demolished.

Water Channel
The water channel leading to dean Clough Reservoir in Great Harwood. (Photo courtesy of John Duckworth.)

On the 11th June 1953, the Council Clerk submitted a communication from the Clerk to the Board stating that application had been made to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for permission to increase the scale of charges by 30 per cent as from 1st October, 1953.

North West Water was a water supply company serving north west England. It was originally the North West Water Authority, one of ten regional authorities created by the Water Act 1973. In 1989, it became North West Water plc., and was privatised. In December 1995.

The North West Water Authority took over the following statutory water undertakings:

  • Bolton Corporation
  • Carlisle Corporation
  • Liverpool Corporation
  • Manchester Corporation
  • St. Helens Corporation
  • Widnes Corporation
  • Calder Water Board
  • Eden Water Board
  • Furness Water Board
  • Fylde Water Board
  • Lakes and Lune Water Board
  • Lune Valley Water Board
  • Macclesfield District Water Board
  • Makerfield Water Board
  • Mid Cheshire Water Board
  • North Calder Water Board
  • Preston and District Water Board
  • South Cumberland Water Board
  • Stockport and District Water Board
  • Warrington, Runcorn and District Water Board
  • West Cumberland Water Board
  • West Lancashire Water Board
  • West Pennine Water Board
  • Wirral Water Board


United Utilities was founded in 1995, and was the amalgamation of two of the North Wests service companies, North West Water, and NORWEB (North Western Electricity Board). Both of these companies had been previously privatised by the UK Government in 1990.

In December 2007, United Utilities sold its electricity distribution network assets to North West Electricity Networks. Electricity North West became the licensed Distribution Network Operator for the north west of England as a result.

United Utilities operated and maintained the network on behalf of Electricity Northwest until 2010, when Electricity Northwest bought the electricity network operations and maintenance arm of United Utilities to establish one Group.

United Utilities operates water and wastewater networks. As of 2012, it was investing £3.6 billion between 2010â€"2015 to meet water quality standards, deliver environmental improvements and make their network more reliable.

On Friday, the 9th July 2010, a hosepipe ban was put in place by United Utilities, who took over control of North west Water in the 1990's.

This was the first hosepipe ban since 1996, due to no rain having fallen in East Lancashire for 3 months prior. The company expected this ban to last into the Spring of 2011, or until the water levels of local reservoirs filled to 80% of their capacity.

However, the company was heavily criticised for not repairing leaking pipes, losing 460 million litres of water a day in leaks, the equivalent of 184 Olympic-sized swimming pools. On the first day of the ban, their "leak line" was inundated with phone calls off angry residents.

Water contamination

On 7 August 2015, cryptosporidium, a water borne parasite that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, had been detected in the water supply to Blackpool, Chorley, Fylde, Preston, South Ribble and Wyre affecting more than 300,000 customers. No cases of cryptosporidiosis were reported and by introducing of ultra-violet treatment units "boil water" notices could be lifted in some areas. Investigations by UU and the Drinking Water Inspectorate had not identified the cause.

On 6 September 2015, the water supply was declared free from contamination, and restrictions were lifted. United Utilities was subsequently fined £300,000 at Preston Crown Court on 10 October 2017 for supplying water unfit for human consumption, with an additional £150,000 costs. It paid around £18 million in compensation to its customers

Flood TanksFrom the millinium onwards, the water board started fitting flood tanks around Rishton.


Rishton - An East Lancashire Cotton Town - Marian Sleigh

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

Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Utilities