Butterley Spillway, Marsden, West Yorkshire

At risk of replacement by concrete

Resembling an immense staircase, this reservoir spillway is one of our most unusual endangered buildings. It was designed to allow the release of excess water during periods of heavy rain and is the UK’s only listed spillway. The owner, Yorkshire Water, plans to remove its steps and replace the sandstone walls with coloured concrete. Its case is that the spillway does not comply with current safety standards, but the kind of flooding it seeks to manage is determined by theoretical assessment and may occur only once in 20,000 years.

Photo: Butterley reservoir spillway by Steve Partridge

The ‘upgrading’ work will result in the loss of everything that is special about the spillway. Coloured concrete is not an adequate substitute for natural stone. Villagers and visitors have formed a campaign to help protect the spillway. Yorkshire Water should listen to them and develop a plan which is less damaging to this unique example of Victorian engineering

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