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Iconic Thirlmere Aqueduct recognised by Institution of Civil Engineers

Thirlmere Aqueduct

[T]he Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has named a North West landmark as one of the top 200 influential people and projects, past and present, which illustrate how civil engineering has shaped the world and transformed people’s lives for the better.

Britain’s longest gravity-fed watercourse, Thirlmere Aqueduct, along with its feeder reservoir, was nominated by ICE members and selected by an expert panel, as a chosen project that illustrates civil engineering at its finest.

The project is being recognised as part of a scheme to highlight 200 inspirational and world-changing projects from around the globe throughout 2018 to mark the ICE’s 200th anniversary.

Thirlmere Aqueduct

The Thirlmere Aqueduct transports water 153 kilometres from Thirlmere reservoir in the Cumbrian fells to Manchester, and can carry up to 227 million litres of water a day. The aqueduct runs in tunnels for around 80 kilometres and through cast iron pipes for another 72 kilometres. The first tunnel, at the start of the route, is the longest at 5 kilometres and runs under Dunmail Rise.

Thirlmere Reservoir’s dam is 261 meters long with a maximum height of 20 meters. There’s a 5 meter wide road along the top between stone parapet walls. It can hold up to 39,000 million litres of water.

Both the aqueduct and reservoir opened in 1894 after four years’ construction work and were designed and built by engineer John Frederick Bateman. Bateman’s work is acknowledged as the cornerstone of Britain’s water supply industry.

Wendy Blundell, Director ICE Regions, said: “The significance of this project cannot be underestimated. Not only did it bring fresh water supply to the city of Manchester, allowing the region to further prosper, it also revolutionised water infrastructure for ever. The sheer scale of the project is still impressive now, let alone when it was constructed, so it is definitely worthy of being named among the top influential engineering projects of all time.”

Nathan Baker, Engineering Knowledge Director at ICE, said: “Our research has shown that the majority of both adults and young people don’t know what a civil engineer does and most can’t identify a single UK civil engineering project. We aim to change these perceptions with 200 People and Projects, explaining not just the importance of civil engineering but how it has directly transformed people’s lives.

“The chosen projects showcase how civil engineering paved the way to modern life and how it continues to tackle the problems of today, safeguarding the future for generations to come. With the world facing unprecedented challenges, such as climate change and the pressures from a rapidly growing population, there has never been a greater need for civil engineers and the vital work they do.”

The Thirlmere Aqueduct and Reservoir joins 199 other projects which will be published throughout the year on the ICE website – – along with career guidance for anyone interested in pursuing a career in civil engineering.

This platform has been designed to help promote the career of civil engineering after it was revealed that only 45% of adults know what the career entails and only 35% of young people could tell you what a civil engineer does.

The ICE’s feature on Thirlmere Aqueduct, as part of the ICE 200 campaign, can be seen here:

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