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Farndale Reservoir Twice Derailed

By Bernie Eccleston

Hull Corporation bought the upper portion of North Yorkshire’s renowned daffodil valley in 1935 in order to submerge the valley bottom under a giant reservoir.

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Parliament had already authorised plans for Hull to follow the example of other cities like Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester and deliver water through a long-distance pipeline. As elsewhere, Upper Farndale’s farming families were to be permanently evicted from Hull’s land in and around the reservoir site. In 1936, for reasons previously buried in confidential documents, the reservoir plans were postponed indefinitely leaving Farndale folk with the inevitable prospect of eventual eviction from their homes.

Thirty years later that prospect appeared to have become an unstoppable reality when the Farndale project was revived amidst a spree in reservoir construction. However, in May 1970 the Farndale reservoir proposal was indeed derailed in a completely unexpected decision when Parliament abruptly rejected the notion of drowning another remote upland valley.


Dr Bernie Eccleston began his career teaching British Economic and Social History at the University of Hull. After a move to the Open University his research interests and publications also transferred to the political economy of Japan and then to environmental politics in Malaysia. Since he took early retirement, his time has been spent in exploring the social history of water politics in and around Yorkshire.

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