Records of the City of Nottingham Water Department, and other material relating to water supply and sewerage in Nottinghamshire; 1852-1975

Scope and Content

Most of the records in this collection are those of the Nottingham Corporation Waterworks and the City of Nottingham Water Department (in existence 1880-1974). Although a few earlier documents have survived, including a minute book of the Northern Waterworks Company (MS 880), there are no official records of the Nottingham Waterworks Company or its predecessors beyond a small series of annual accounts, 1852-1856. Likewise, there is only a very small amount of material, dated 1974-1975, from the Severn Trent Water Authority's ownership of the waterworks.

Other records in the collection relate to the supply of water in central Nottinghamshire and the sewerage system of Nottingham. Thus, there are some records (mainly plans) from the Central Nottinghamshire Water Board (1965-1969), Newark upon Trent Waterworks (1889-1959), Borough of Mansfield Water Department (1958-1965), Sutton in Ashfield Urban District Council (1949-1963) and Sheffield Regional Hospital Board (1963-1966).

The collection is composed chiefly of maps and plans. These are primarily technical drawings showing, for example, sections of pipes and sewers, routes of pipes, geological sections, reservoir construction, pumping machinery etc. Many of the plans are hand drawn. All are of importance in reflecting the development of systems for supplying water and the provision of a sanitary sewerage system, from the age of pioneering engineers such as Thomas Hawksley to more recent years.

The collection also includes the minutes of various committees, Engineers Reports, Accounts, and a large number of Ordnance Survey Sheets. Many of the latter have been annotated to show routes of water mains etc. There are also uncatalogued or partly catalogued accruals of maps and plans, and some photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Nottingham's water supply was, until 1845, in the hands of a number of small companies. The oldest, the [Old] Nottingham Waterworks Company, was established in 1696, and extracted water from the River Leen. In the early nineteenth century this company erected new works at Scotholme in Basford, and at Brewhouse Yard under Nottingham Castle. The Nottingham New Waterworks Company, or the Northern Waterworks, was set up in 1824 in North Sherwood Street to serve the north-eastern past of the town. Two years later, the Trent Waterworks Company was established. Its engineer, Thomas Hawksley (1807-1893), built innovative waterworks at Trent Bridge, inaugurated in 1831, which extracted water from the River Trent, filtered it, and pumped it under constant high pressure to taps situated in streets and courts. A fourth company, the Zion Hill Water and Marble Works was established around 1790, and raised water from two wells near Alfreton Road and Canning Circus, Nottingham. It had ceased to function independently by 1824.

Following the Nottingham Water Act of 1845, the three companies were merged into one body, known as the Nottingham Waterworks Company. Thomas Hawskley remained as its engineer until 1880. In 1879 the Nottingham Improvement Act was passed, enabling the Nottingham Corporation to take over responsibility for water supplies. The water undertaking was fully transferred to the Nottingham Corporation Waterworks on 14 May 1880.

In 1880, there were five waterworks supplying water to the Nottingham area: the Scotholme Works, the Trent Works, the Park or Sion Hill Works on The Ropewalk (opened 1850), Bagthorpe Works at Haydn Road in Basford (opened 1857), and Bestwood Works in Bestwood Park (opened 1874). The last three, engineered by Hawksley, extracted water from the sandstone beds lying underneath Nottingham. Nottingham Corporation's municipal engineer, M. Ogle Tarbotton (1835-1887), designed an additional water pumping plant at Papplewick, which opened in 1884. At this point, the Scotholme, Trent, and Brewhouse Yard works were closed. A borehole pumping station at Burton Joyce was opened in 1898, and the Boughton Works in 1901.

However, these advances were not enough to satisfy the demand of the growing city of Nottingham for water supplies. In 1899, the Derwent Valley Water Act was passed, allowing the Derwent Valley Water Board to construct reservoirs in the upper Derwent Valley in Derbyshire. Nottingham, Sheffield, Leicester and Derby began to receive water from the reservoirs following the official opening of the Derwent and Howden dams in 1916. A further reservoir was created at Ladybower between 1935 and 1945, and in 1967 an additional reservoir and treatment works were built at Church Wilne to extract water from the lower Derwent River.

The Nottingham Corporation Waterworks became the City of Nottingham Water Department in 1912, but this was no more than a change of name. Five further borehole stations, at Rufford, Lambley, Halam, Markham Clinton and Ompton, were built between 1945 and 1969.

In 1974 the newly formed Severn Trent Water Authority assumed responsibility for supplying the region with water. The last meeting of the Water Committee of the City Council was held on 11 March 1974. The records of the City of Nottingham Water Department were moved to the office of the Lower Trent Division of the Severn Trent Water Authority, at Hucknall Road in Nottingham.


Material is arranged according to relevant authority. It is then subdivided according to form (e.g. correspondence, minutes) and arranged chronologically.

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers. Please note that a large number of plans are in a very fragile condition. Access to these will be restricted until they are conserved. Some sections are closed while material is added from later accruals.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:

Typescript Catalogue

At the National Register of Archives, London:

Typescript Catalogue

Online: Online catalogue available from the Manuscripts and Special Collections website.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email

Custodial History

The records were transferred to the University Library from the Hucknall Road Office of the Lower Trent Division of the Severn Trent Water Authority in separate deposits between September 1987 and September 1988. The catalogue was enhanced in 2011-2012 with support from The National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme.

Related Material

Manuscripts and Special Collections also holds the records of predecessors Derwent Valley Water Board Ref: DVW, Stoke Bardolph and Bulcote Model Farms Ref: RSB, Papplewick Pumping Station Ref: PPS, Nottingham New Waterworks/Northern Waterworks Company Ref: MS 880; their successors (Severn Trent Water Authority Ref: RWA, Severn Trent Water Ref: RST, National Rivers Authority Ref: RRA, Environment Agency Ref: REA); also the Trent River Board/Authority (Clerk's Department Ref: RC, Engineer's Department Ref: RE, Governance records Ref: RG, Hydrology Department Ref: RH); also Trent River Authority's predecessors (Trent Navigation Company Ref: RtN, Brigg Court of Lincolnshire Commissioners of Sewers Ref: Br, Court of Sewers for the Level of Hatfield Chase/Hatfield Chase Corporation Ref: HCC, Trent Fishery Board Ref: RTF); also the papers of an employee of the Trent River Authority (H.R. Potter Ref: HRP).