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A Tribute to

John Frederick La Trobe Bateman

1810 - 1889

Early Beginnings

John Frederick Bateman was born in 1810 at Lower Wyke, near Halifax. He was the eldest son of John Bateman and his wife Mary Agnes La Trobe, daughter of the Reverend Benjamin La Trobe, a former well-known Moravian minister at Fairfield, Droylsden. John Bateman later took on his mother's name by royal licence in 1883.

He was educated at the Moravian schools of Ockbrook and Fairfield. He later became an apprentice to Mr Dunn, a local surveyor and mining and civil engineer from Oldham.

In 1834, he set up in business as a civil engineer and land surveyor in Manchester and resided in Pall Mall. He married Anne Fairbairn in 1841. Together they had 3 sons and 4 daughters.

Onward and Upward

BatemanIn 1831, Glossop, a prosperous Derbyshire mill town became the venue for 50 local gentleman, known as the "Glossop Commissioners", who out of their own interests, obtained an Act of Parliament to construct the Glossop Reservoirs.

The first to be constructed was the Hurst Reservoir. The engineer was Thomas Ashworth and his surveyor, a young gentleman named John Frederick Bateman.

Thirteen years later, the Commission of Inquiry into the Health of Large Towns Report was published, with a large emphasis on current water supply. In 1846, Manchester Corporation came to the conclusion that the issue was urgent and promoted a Bill to acquire the works of the

Manchester and Salford Waterworks Company.

This was a time when people shared a tap in their street or squalid court where they lived. Water was often contaminated and caused many deaths through Cholera.

Bateman was enlisted to advise the Manchester and Salford Waterworks Company or new ways of supplying water.

The Longdendale Reservoirs Project

Later that year, Bateman submitted his plans to the City Fathers of Manchester for supplying clean drinking water. This was to be obtained from the Longdendale Valley to provide water to Manchester and the surrounding areas, including Tameside.

On the 26th January 1847, four surveying officers met at Manchester Town Hall to discuss the Bill before its presentation to Parliament.

Their comments included the insufficiency of the present supply plus reports of various incidents relating to local supplies eg; well water often being polluted by leakage from sewers and some neighbourhoods flocking to catch the water which flows from condensed water pipes of steam engines.

They also recorded their approval of Longdendale by stating 'they were the purest waters they had ever seen and that they exceeded even those of the Cumberland Lakes'.

On July 9th 1847, the Manchester Corporation Waterworks Act came into force. One year later another Act of Parliament was passed including the construction of Torside and Rhodeswood Reservoirs.

From 1848 to 1877, Bateman designed and constructed the main five principal reservoirs in Longdendale, these being: Woodhead, Torside and Rhodeswood for drinking water and Vale House and Bottom Reservoirs to provide compensation water to the River Etherow.

Two smaller reservoirs were built, these were Hollingworth (now demolished) and Arnfield, again designed to be used in conjunction with the main chain. At this time Mottram Tunnel was also built, to act as a flow of water between Rhodeswood and the Godley treatment works near Hyde.

This chain of reservoirs is still in use today and is six miles long, with a boast that its waters have never run dry. At the time, these reservoirs were the largest to be constructed in the World and became Europe's first major Water Conservation Scheme.

For the Benefit of Tameside

During the time of construction of the Longdendale Reservoirs, three service reservoirs were required. One each at Godley and Denton plus a larger one at Audenshaw. These were constructed between 1875 and 1884, again overseen by Bateman.

Water conditions were vastly improved because of the pioneering genius of Bateman and people's health from all over Manchester, including Tameside, was greatly improved.

Many of the original pipes still run through Hyde and Denton today. The Blue Plaque honouring Bateman is located on the deepest air shaft from the Mottram Tunnel. This can be seen on Lowry Court in Mottram.


  • The assistance of the following are gratefully acknowledged:
  • Ted Connolly (Nominator of plaque)
  • Ian Allwood from North West Water.
  • Tim Wooton, illustrator of centre page Longdendale Reservoirs