This is the gearing for a valve which allowed water to flow out from the Longdendale reservoir.
It is from the reservoirs in the Longdendale Valley.
John Frederick La Trobe Bateman designed and built the extensive series of reservoirs in the Longdendale valley. Built between the 1840s and 1870s, the reservoirs provided Tameside and Manchester with a clean supply of water for the first time. Before this, people risked serious disease because the only drinking water came from contaminated local rivers.
Water was also in demand in mills and factories to drive the waterwheels that powered much of the machinery. Water was needed to fight the many fires that broke out in mills and factories too.
This gearing mechanism raised and lowered a valve, allowing water to be channelled out of the reservoir in a safe and controlled way. To cope with the huge pressure of the water, four wheels were needed to allow the valve to be raised in sections. The Victorians liked to add decorative features, even to heavy machinery. The legs of this gearing machine have been made to look like classical columns.
When they were built, the reservoirs were the largest in the world. They are still in use today. Bateman’s valve and gearing mechanism were in use until 1999 when they were replaced with butterfly valves and a hydraulic panel. You can see this object on display at Portland Basin Museum.