In 1849 Bacup was very prone to flooding, by the River Irwell which began its
descent from above the hills at Deerplay and then met the Greaves Brook in the
center of town by the Mechanics Institute. Many of the mills and dwelling houses
situated along its banks the population at the time of the Public Health Report in 1842
being about 10,000. The river became the reseptecable for all kinds of rubbish and
the many ashes from various mils and houses piled at times over eight feet high in
the river . This soon led to the raising of the river bed which caused it to overflow at
times of heavy rains. In 1832 a map was prepared showing the course of the River
Irwell the map showed the waterfalls, and the mills and other works situated on the
river. It is hardly surprising the river was
polluted as in the above poem when you
take a look at the mills that followed the
course of the river. From its start in
Deerplay: Irwell Springs Print works. Dog Pits
Cotton Mill. Higher Broadclough Woollen Mill. Lower Broadclough Woollen Mill. Meadows Mill.
Holmes Mill. Waterside Fulling Mill. Rawcliffe Mill. Newhey Mill. Stubylee Mill.
Nunhills Mill.Tunstead Mill.Waterbarn Mill. Until the bridge over the river at Henrietta Street was built
in 1870 by George Maxwell, a cotton manufacturer who was operating at Mashwood the area now
known as Henrietta Street and home to the council yard. Access was by a simple wooden plank and
by stepping stones when the river was running low. The bridge was reconstructed in 1925.With no
drainage system such has we have today it goes without saying that there must have been a terrible
stench permeating the town during warm summers. The main drain was about 4feet deep from the
surface of the ground to the bottom and formed with a flat stone bottom and top and dry rubble sides,
3feet by 2 feet 6inches. The roads were in a dilapidated state with noone being in charge to inspect
them and keep them in good repair. Many of the pavements were unflagged and covered in all types of
dirt and filth. Three years following the first census returns of 1841 Bacup’s water supply was dreadful with
reservoir the supplies of water came from various wells situated around the town. The well which was situated Down t Yard which we belive is
where todays Market now stands was said to be water of a qualkity that resembled sewerage. At one time when the gardens of todays Trinity
Baptist chapel were part of the Plantation that stood there, there was a well there known as Bank House well. The quality was said to be very
good but the supply was small. Peggys Spout was a well situated at the top of Lane Head, and when this dried up it meant a long walk to
Broadeclough to get water from what was called Mr Whittakers Cawl, where the water still comes through the wall today. Esthers spout was
situated on Yorkshire Street, and this was said to the be the best well in the town.
In the year 1853 the demand for a clean water supply, resulted in the formation of the Rossendale Water
Works Company, which obtained an act of parliament for this purpose. Amongst the first directors of the
company were Dr William Stewart, James Ashworth, Richard Smith, John Maden and Joshua Hoyle,
all cotton manufaturers of the area. The company constructed the Sheephouse Reservoir, as well as
the compensation reservoir on Newline. Whilst the reservoir at Sheephouse gave water to many of the
homes in Bacup it was unsuitable for those built at higher
altitudes such as those in Sharneyford. In 1898 the
corporation of Bacup gained statutory powers to
construct high and low level reservoirs at Cowpe which
were opened in 1910.
In 1864 work began on the laying of the first sewers from the Mechanics Institute to Lee Mill the work
was carried out by a company named Thomas Saville of Derby and encompassed the areas of
Henrietta Street, St James Street, Irwell Street.The syatem was quite basic with outfall tanks near
to the Cemetery Hotel in Stacksteads.In 1894 the Bacup Corporation joined the Haslingden and
Rawtenstall Joint Sewerage Board who had built the sewerage works at Ewood Bridge.
In 1836 the Bacup Gas Light and Coke Co was founded with a capital of £3000.00 they built
offices, workshops and two gasometers which were used to supply street lighting mills and
homes. The Rossendale Union Gas Company was formed in 1854 by an act of Parliament dated
June 1854 and at this time works and plant were merged. A large gas works was built at cloughfold
1856, with Bacup keeping its own depot. In 1896 plans were passed by the town council for the
erection of a new Gas office in Lee Street. During the excavations of the old foundations several
large tanks were discovered and were thought to have been used at Tar tanks.Further excavations
however found no outlet and it was never discovered what the tanks were used for. In 1864 a
announcement in the Bacup Times reported that gas lighting would be extended to cover the areas of
Sheep House Clough Rochdale Rd,On the Newchurch Rd they would extend to Acre Mill and to the limits of the boundary at Stacksteads. As far as
the boundary road at Higher Broadclough and as far as the Bull & Dog in Todmorden Rd. In 1895 the company introduced the penny in the slot gas
meter. The offices in Lee Street were sold in 1957.
The following is taken from the memoirs of Faron Robertshaw.
Enoch Tempest was the builder of Cloughbottom Reservoir, and he was a very good boss to work for. He was a man getting on in years and his
son " Young Enoch " was very much in charge. To make the reservoir large a large bend in the road and part of the hill was cut away and
Enoch had one of the first steam navvies in this country working on the job. The men used to call her " The American Devil" and those in
charge of it called it that a hundred times a day or more. If that lump of old iron had been human it couldn't have been any awkwarder.
Sometimes she was a little angel and would light up and be a roaring fire in a few minutes but at other times she was more wilful than old Nicks
granddaughter and as full of tricks as a egg is full of meat. Some time later we got another steam navvie and she was called the Jubilee she
was worked in the bottom of the reservoir. There were two of us as engine cleaners and there were five engines to look after, the largest being
called Jumbo, and the smallest called Little Egret. Jumbo was used for all the heavy dirty work, whilst little Egret was a lady and only took the
empty trucks up to the quarry and brought the full wagons of stone down to the lower embankment. In the bottom of the reservoir there was a
farmhouse and the clerk of the works lived there until the reservoir was nearly finished. The watchman had a hut on the new road and beside
watching the road he had to keep a pump going on the embankment. On the lower
of the engine shed were the navvies huts and one portion of these huts and
married men and their wives and most of them took in lodgers. There was
plenty of beer to be had in almost all of the huts, and plenty of rows amongst
the men. The police kept a good eye on the camp and every now and them
would mount a raid on the camp searching the huts for beer. On a Sunday
some of the village Sunday schools sent up a choir, and so long as they didn't
try to drive their religion down the men's throats they were listened to quite
attentively. I used to enjoy going down amongst them on a Sunday afternoon,
the stories these men could tell of different works both public and Government
would have opened the eyes of a few people.
The introduction of electricity in Bacup must have been a dramatic event. It is impossible to imagine what the people of Bacup thought when they
first saw their first light. In 1878 the local board were contemplating engaging a gentleman skilled in the inns and outs of the electric light to make
some experiments. In 1884 Messrs Wm Sutcliffe's and Sons of the Corn Mill, Yorkshire street were the first to replace gas with the electric light.
They had sixty 20-candle power swan incandescent lamps. In 1887 the Rockliffe Vale Corn mill installed a 150 light dynamo which was driven from
the mill shafting. Each light was 20 candle power. All the rooms in the mill were connected and could be used altogether or separately. The cost of
lighting the whole place was less than 1d per hour. The first shop in Rossendale to be lit by electricity was the premises of Messrs Holden and Co
Tea & Coffee Merchants in Union Street, Bacup in 1894.The light was generated by a dynamo driven by a seven horse gas engine. Bacup's first
telephone was installed at Richard Hargreaves, Acre Mill Stacksteads, and in 1886 Irwel Springs Dye works were connected to the Lancashire and
Cheshire telephone company. The lines having been brought across the moors from Holmes Chapel to Deerplay then across the road to he mill. In
1886 the telephone company began erecting telegraph poles in Newchurch Road from India Mill to the Thrutch. By 1890 the National telegraph
company had opened their office in Market Street, Bacup. The National Telegraph company had been formed 18 months previous by a
amalgamation of the Lancashire & Cheshire co and the United telephone Company.
Although the reservoirs at Cloughbottom and Clowbridge didn't supply Bacup with water it did provide many Bacup and Stacksteads men with
work during its construction.