Rutland Water —

20 Dec

Been trying to upload photos of a Terex TS24b in recognition of where I was working half a century ago.

Quick Edit; Patience my friend – these double engined scrapers were much easier to get the hang of than this computer is — I think I’ve got hold of a pic or two —

Yup – 50 years ago I was a member of a team of three plant fitters looking after a fleet of twelve double engined TS24s and associated Cat D8s – Aveling Barford graders – vibrating rollers and all the other bits of plant involved in a major earth-fill dam building project.

Major it was – what started off under the banner of Empingham Reservoir in the early seventies took almost five years to complete. One village was flattened and an important stone built church was dismantled and rebuilt on higher ground before the dam was flooded.

The clay used for the new – impervious dam wall was extracted from the floor of the soon to be flooded dam. Judging by the fossils and clamshells dug up with the clay – this inland site had been a sea bed millions of years ago.

I had arrived home in the UK seriously ill eleven months previous after catching a bug while working for a few years in hard rock tunneling in tropical Africa.

Having spent the first thirty years of my life involved in arduous work and sport it was tough to see the muscle I had fought so hard to achieve waste away in a matter of months. It would be six months before I was deemed fit to work again and a further twelve before I was able for an overseas posting.

No worries – with the biggest man-made lake in the UK being built about thirty miles from my home on the outskirts of Nottingham – I was right in there with my toolbox as soon as the doc said OK.

It proved to be a tough number. A six o’clock start to fire up the twelve double engined TS24b’s and have the compressed air for the rear engine controls up to pressure by the time the operators hit the haul roads at seven was mandatory. A TS24 weighs approx 40 tonnes as it stands and 70 tonnes plus loaded. On the well graded haul roads 30mph was achievable and sometimes more.

Operators were paid big production bonus’s – plant fitters depended on overtime to bring home a decent wage and boy was there plenty of that to be had! Machines would work a twelve hour day .. any repairs however major – would be done overnight and completed before the machines started again the following morning at six. It did mean I had to live in a caravan on site most of the time I worked there.

I lasted twelve months in the mud but was quite pleased to be heading overseas to warmer climes when the time came.

And what happened to ‘Empinham Reservoir’ – named after the nearby village? Well it wasn’t grand enough for the biggest man-made lake in England. Once the lake was full it became Rutland Water after the county it was in and of course a much more fitting title for what is now a World Heritage Site.

Unfortunately a camera wasn’t part of my tool kit fifty years ago —

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Posted by on December 20, 2021 in out and about


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