IF you’ve ever wondered where the water comes from when ever you turn the tap on your basin or sink, then a new book by Jim Crossley, who has also organised a walk and talk event this weekend, will answer your questions.

Retired chartered water engineer and member Mr Crossley has published his meticulous research into “the quest for potable water for Skipton’s growing needs” from the early 18th century up to the present day.

This Saturday he will lead a morning walk to explore some hidden historic water supply/recreational features in the Shortbank area of the town.

After that he will present an afternoon illustrated talk with photographs and book signings.

Speaking about his book and quest into a critical part of the town, Mr Crossley said: “A few years ago I was very interested to read in a copy of the Skipton Urban District Council year book of 1940-41, a historical summary of the town’s ‘Waterworks’.

“This prompted me to delve further into the subject, as I already had an innate interest having pursued a civil engineering career in the water industry.

“About the same time a picture appeared in the Craven Herald showing the cross-section of a wooden pipe, now in the possession of the Craven Museum, used to supply water into Skipton from a site up Shortbank Road. Also, during site investigations in 2015 for the Environment Agency’s flood protection dam in the Skibeden Valley, an unexplained brick-lined under-ground water tank was located These various events added to my interest in seeking more information.

“Existing historical literature only seems to have made brief references to this important subject of public water supply in Skipton. This lack of ready available data initiated my own search of contemporary accounts of the development of Skipton’s waterworks.

“This I did mainly from copies of the ‘Craven Herald & Pioneer’ dating principally from the late 1800s and early 1900s, available in the Skipton Reference Library together with copies of other archived documents including maps.

“Visits to the Craven Museum and the use of the West Yorkshire Archive Service etc also proved profitable.

“Having been employed for twenty eight years in the Western Division supply area of Yorkshire Water, commencing in 1965 as a senior engineer to Craven Water Board, and later as Yorkshire Water’s western division development manager, I was responsible for the design and contract supervision of many new capital works.

“My first-hand knowledge of the area, therefore, held me in good stead to recount much on the later developments of Skipton’s water supply system. In fact, when I see copies of contract drawings and documents, particularly those produced in the mid-1980s when I was ‘engineer’ to several new-works contracts, I find that as I research the history of the local water supply I realise that I am part of it!

“As Skipton’s population grew rapidly during the latter part of the 19th century, the continuing quest became more urgent to secure a larger and more reliable public water supply than was then currently available from the small existing local reservoirs including Whinny Gill. “Schemes and counter schemes frustratingly continued to be discussed for several years.

“At the time, it was said: ‘every other man in the street was a born water engineer and had a scheme up his sleeve better than his neighbour’s’. There was always the reluctance to spend money on large capital schemes, as one objector to the construction of a larger reservoir is reported to have remarked: ‘Why build a new reservoir when we can’t fill the one we already have?’ #

“Another stated: ‘I don’t want to be drinking water in the middle of summer that had fallen as rain the previous Christmas.’ Eventually with the commissioning of Embsay Reservoir in 1910, and the more recent connection to the ‘Yorkshire Grid’ in 1983, Skipton’s water supply is now secure.

“Having done the research and prepared a presentation, the next logical step was to publish the results of the research in order to provide a more permanent and accessible source of information for future reference and study. The outcome is my book entitled ‘History of Skipton Water Supply’. From the sale of each book a contribution is been made to ‘Water Aid’.

The walk leaves 10:30am St Andrew’s Church Hall at 10.30am,

It is an urban walk on pavements, gentle but steady uphill/downhill.

Talk and refreshments starts 2:15pm at above venue.