Manuscripts and Special Collections

It never rains but it pours…

August 30th, 2011 at 10:08

Uncatalogued water accessions in the archive store

Uncatalogued water accessions in the archive store

It has emerged that one of the largest collections of material within the uncatalogued accessions I am responsible for appraising and describing, are records of the Hydrology Section (later the Water Resources Section), of the Trent River Authority’s Engineer’s Department.

This material comprised an intimidating accession of over 250 boxes of very mixed files in no apparent order. On closer investigation, some of these files were marked with a mysterious ‘WR’ reference. Armed with a basic box list of file titles prepared by a volunteer some years ago, I set about trying to determine the provenance of this material. The major breakthrough came with the discovery in one of the boxes of a photocopy of a filing system, which not only revealed the meaning of the ‘WR’ markings and the original order of the files, but also went a long way towards explaining the work of the Section.

The Water Resources Section of the Trent River Authority (and its predecessor bodies) was responsible for collecting meteorological and hydrological data (on rainfall, evaporation, river gauging, groundwater levels, etc.), for developing flood forecasting systems, conducting surveys of abstraction and usage, and most significantly, for preparing the Water Resources Development Plan. This Plan was a requirement of the 1963 Water Resources Act and would be central to the work of the Trent River Authority up until the creation of the Severn Trent Water Authority in 1974. It involved estimating future demand and formulating proposals for action, including investigating the possibility of purification of water from the River Trent, the artificial re-charge of water in sandstone found with the Trent catchment area, and the development of the River Derwent, which would ultimately lead to the controversial construction of a reservoir at Carsington in Derbyshire.

So far around 175 boxes fit neatly into this filing system; that just leaves me with another 80 ‘unlabelled’ files to deal with, some of which are contain batches of ‘raw’ hydrological data. After that there’s only another 15 or so accessions to go. It never rains but it pours…

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