History of Rutland Water

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Of course the tiny county of Rutland existed many centuries before the vast body of water was formed, but for most visitors to the area, it is Rutland Water that first grabs the attention and it remains our main claim to fame across Britain.


Rutland Water is a man-made reservoir: its purpose is to supply this dry and sunny corner of the East Midlands with a reliable supply of drinking water, but leisure activities and nature conservation are also key.

Given that Rutland Water is the largest man-made reservoir in Britain in terms of surface area (bettered only by Kielder Water in capacity because it is deeper), many residents of Rutland were not best pleased by proposals in the 1960s to flood the Gwash Valley and drown three or four perfectly good villages, to create a huge puddle taking up much of the middle of the county.

Many local sites were considered, including the nearby Chater Valley, before the area around Upper Hambleton, Nether Hambleton and Middle Hambleton was chosen (in part, because of the availability of clay). Today, only Upper Hambleton survives and is simply ‘Hambleton’ sitting on the peninsula in the centre of the water (accessed by road from the west/Oakham side).

The village of Normanton, at the east end of Rutland Water was also under threat though the main casualty was its 18th century church. This was ‘saved’ by allowing the lower part of the church to be ‘filled in’ before inundation so that today the upper ‘storey’ is easily accessible from the lake shore and it has become the iconic image associated with Rutland Water.

Construction on the reservoir started in 1971, it opened formally in 1977 but it is said that the reservoir did not reach its full capacity until 1979. Rutland Water is operated by Anglian Water.


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