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02-05-24 |

Better Rivers Scheme in Ramsbottom Unearths Forgotten Village 

The project began in September 2023 and will continue until 2026. It is designed by United Utilities to improve the water quality in the River Irwell around Ramsbottom. 

This will be achieved by installing a new underground storage tank, which can hold up to 3.5 million litres of water – that’s equivalent to 44,000 bathtubs! The project also includes a new Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) chamber and associated pipes and manholes to improve capacity in the local wastewater network. This will reduce the number of times sewers operate during periods of heavy rain. 

We have been working with United Utilities since 2000 and are delighted to support this scheme which is part of United Utilities’ Better Rivers; Better North West campaign to reduce the number of spills from storm overflows by at least a third, between 2020 and 2025.

See below for a diagram of where the works are taking place: 

In the first months of the project unfolding, remnants of a once vibrant industrial village were found. 

Nuttal Village lies beside the River Irwell, in Ramsbottom. It once housed up to 2,000 people but is now hidden beneath undergrowth with walls only appearing when vegetation dies down in winter. 

Before we’re able to install the tank in the desired location, enabling road works were carried out to enable access for the delivery of the low loader that will carry the crawler crane. This will be used for the installation as well as other larger vehicles for deliveries through the project. The tank is built in-situ; therefore, we will be bringing in segments to build the 20M circular tank using an under-pinning methodology.

See photos before of the progress from September 2023 to March 2024:  

Once the road is complete, we will move onto the next stage of the project: building the tank in.  

“With the final few months of enabling works coming upon us, we are looking forward to making a start on the main shaft work and to deliver what will be a brilliant project.” James Brett, Project Manager for Bury and Ramsbottom. 

Saving costs and carbon with Think Hire 

We are always looking into ways we can be greener on-site and using sustainable energy sources for sites is a great place to start. 

We enlisted the services of Think Hire to install a solar generator and battery that powers our cabins. From the date of installation in February to the end of the month (total of 22 days) we found: 

This has been a no-brainer for us, providing a greener solution to our clients is one of our top priorities. Saving the pennies always helps too! 

“Incorporating sustainability in construction not only contributes to reducing our environmental footprint, but also provides long-term financial benefits, improves public health, and preserves resources for future generations.”  – James Brett, Project Manager for Bury and Ramsbottom 

Solatainer TH145 and 60kVA Generator

The Challenge 

There’s a railway tunnel still used by steam trains that passes through the site, so we check for structural monitoring to ensure the vehicle movement above is safe and not causing any impact to the tunnel, through an external company, Dywidag, who have installed monitors. 

The railway tunnel dating back to the 1800s, is still in use by steam trains. 

Archaeological Findings  

During the initial dig, the remains of a forgotten time were brought to light. Fireplaces, factory chimneys, steam tunnels and much more were unearthed. We enlisted the help of ADAS to consult on the best point of action. 

Inside the unearthed tunnel

A cobbled street and a fireplace with steps leading into where the cottage would have resided 

“At the beginning of the year, we were visited by the Ramsbottom Civic pride team and have been able to provide them with stone and paving slabs from the original ground of the village, in which they will use around the Ramsbottom area for upcoming projects.”  – Sergio Paldino, Site Manager

It transpired that there was indeed a lot of history in this site, with part of a lost village and foundations of several mills dating as far back at the 1800s. 

In the 1870s there was a major fire, destroying much of the then 6-storied cotton mill. Another fire broke out later in 1893 which caused many of the inhabitants to leave. 

The Cotton Mill after the fire, factory worker’s houses can be seen on the right:

The area became industrialised once again in the 1920s when a Norwegian-owned company “The Ocean Chemical Co” built a chemical plant in Nuttall Village. It was the only cyanide plant in Britain at the time and was used for casehardening of steel and the extraction of gold from ore. Much of the product was exported to Ford Motors in America and to british bicycle brand Hercules Cycles

You can still see overgrown remains of the cotton mill and the chemical factory in the wooded area nearby.  

According to the heritage society in Ramsbottom the 2,000 people who once lived in this village were mainly factory workers, the houses of which were demolished in the 1960s.  

When looking upon the site today, it’s hard to imagine such activity. 

“Throughout the planning and design stages, we have had numerous conversations and meetings with the Ramsbottom Heritage society, local planning department and other key stakeholders to ensure that we retain the look of what would have stood there once upon a time.  

We have held regular visits for the heritage society along with local councillors and residents to update them on how works are progressing.”  – Alan Phillips, Framework Manager 

Customer is at the heart of what we do 

We understand these works can be disruptive and due to the scope of this project, timely as well. The area the work is taking place holds a walkway from the residential area in Ramsbottom to the woods, so it was important to us that this was accessible for walkers. 

We noticed one of the pathways was very muddy and may cause slips, so we have laid down a firmer pathway, using recycled crushed stone. 

More of the recycled stone has been used for gabion baskets to border certain areas of the site as well. 

Legato blocks have been places on the river border to ensure our vehicles are safe when they come down the hill.

United Utilities Project Manager Harvey Bebbington said:

“This project supports our Better Rivers programme which is improving water quality in rivers across the North West.  When complete in 2026, it will play an important role in improving water quality in the nearby River Irwell by reducing the need for sewers to overflow in times of heavy rain.

“The tank will act as a ‘holding area’ for the extra rainwater that enters the sewer network during times of heavy rainfall. Holding it back means it isn’t all hitting our wastewater treatment works at the same time and the system is less likely to be overwhelmed.”

Thanks to Sergio Paldino for the site tour and fantastic photos! We look forward to seeing how this project turns out next…

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