Victorian engineering ingenuity still helps keep Liverpool flowing

We have a lot to thank our Victorian ancestors for.  In fact, there engineering ingenuity is still used by many of us today.

On Saturday night (September 8) Channel 5 programme, How the Victorians Built Britain looks back at two brilliant pioneers, James Newland and George Deacon, who both played an integral role in revolutionising Liverpool’s drinking water and sewer system.

Current engineers from water company United Utilities spent time showing Michael Buerk, former newsreader around some of this major Victorian engineering.

James Newlands became Liverpool and Britain’s first Borough Engineer in 1847. He developed the world’s earliest sewerage system in Liverpool.  

Newlands was instrumental in achieving an improvement in public health and the average life expectancy, which was just 19 in 1847, doubled during his years in office.

In 1879 it was decided to build a dam at Vyrnwy in North Wales.  George Deacon, water engineer to Liverpool jointly with Thomas Hawksley, designed the Lake Vyrnwy scheme to supply Liverpool’s drinking water.

Homes and businesses in Liverpool are still to this day supplied with water from Lake Vyrnwy.

Not only was the work of both Newland’s and Deacon pioneering at the time, it is still used today and the programme explores the inner workings of Vyrnwy draw off tower, which still plays a pivotal role in the supply of water to Liverpool. As well as going  deep underground into a fully functioning brick built Liverpool Victorian sewer.

John Martin from United Utilities said: “Both James Newland and George Deacon were true trailblazers.

“It’s remarkable we still utilise the engineering ingenuity left by our Victorian ancestors, in conjunction with modern engineering techniques to meet the demands of today.”

Tune in on Saturday, September 8 at 9pm, Channel 5.