More than 60 people attended the January meeting of Mytholmroyd Historical Society where president Tony Wilson introduced Ann Kilbey and Frank Woolrych, who presented an illustrated talk on “Dawson City”.
After Halifax Corporation decided that a reservoir was needed at Walshaw Dean, an Act of Parliament had to be passed before the scheme went ahead, writes Judith Wilson.
The contract was put out to tender and eventually Enoch Tempest, from Manchester, having submitted the lowest tender, agreed to take on the work.
The sod cutting ceremony was held on September 17, 1900.
Enock temple then set up a base camp at Whitehall Nook and built a railway to transport materials and workers to it. The engine was brought up to Hebden Bridge Station and then a team of horses pulled it up to the site. Wooden trestle bridges were erected to span the cloughs and William Henry Cockroft of Hebden Bridge was contracted to build these.
A village of wooden huts to house the workers and their families was built and this was known as Dawson City.
The majority of the workforce lived there and navvies came from all over the country. There were storehouses, workshops and a smithy.
There was not enough room at Heptonstall School to take the navvies’ children, so they were accommodated in the schoolmaster’s house. A mission was set up for the navvy families, including a church hut and recreational activities.
It was a dangerous place to work, with many accidents, and Dr Lawson trained some of its workers in first aid.
On October 1, 1907, the reservoir was opened, but within a month it was leaking. Tempest was blamed for faulty workmanship, although it was eventually proved that fissures in the rock had caused the leakages and concrete was pumped in to remedy the fault.
Sadly, Enoch Tempest had already died, in August 1908.
Thanks were expressed by Stuart Greenwood. The next meeting will be on Friday, February 14, at 7.30pm, at Mytholmroyd Methodist Church. The library will be open from 7pm to 7.30pm. Membership cards must be shown to borrow books.
New members are welcome at a cost of only £10 per annum. Non-members are asked to pay £3 per visit.