Stoke Newington - Reservoirs


From the 16th century onwards, Stoke Newington has played a prominent role in assuring a water supply to sustain London's rapid growth. Hugh Myddleton's New River runs through the area and still makes a contribution to London's water. Although this originally terminated at the New River Head in Finsbury, since 1946 its main flow has ended at Stoke Newington reservoirs, though a slow ornamental trickle flows past the West Reservoir to go underground for a stretch on Green Lanes, reappearing for a time in Clissold Park only to disappear underground again on its way to Canonbury. The river bank, the New River Path, can be walked for some distance to the north through Haringey and on to its source near Hertford, though not all sections are open.

Stoke Newington East and West Reservoirs, to the north of Clissold Park, are quite substantial for urban facilities. Stoke Newington Reservoirs were constructed in 1833 to purify the New River water and to act as a water reserve. As mentioned, the West Reservoir is now a leisure facility, offering sailing, canoeing and other water sports, plus Royal Yachting Association- approved sailing courses. On its western edge stands the former filter house, now set out as a visitor centre with a café; some of the old hydraulic machinery can be viewed in the main hall. The pumping station at the reservoir gates, converted to a climbing centre in 1995 (as mentioned above) was designed in a distinctive castellated style by Robert Billings under the supervision of William Chadwell Mylne and built in 1854–56.

Besides the water board facilities and the New River, Clissold Park also contains two large ornamental lakes, a home to many water birds and a population of terrapins. These lakes – purportedly the remains of clay pits dug for the bricks used in the building of Clissold House – are all that is left to mark the course of the Hackney Brook, one of London's lost rivers, which once flowed from west to east across Stoke Newington on its way to the River Lea. In flood at this point, the brook was known to span 10 metres. The two lakes are not actually fed from the brook, which has long disappeared into the maze of sewers under London, but from the mains supply – ultimately the New River.

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