Days Gone By - when Tattingstone was changed forever by the Alton Water reservoir
Alton Water is the largest man-made reservoir in Suffolk with a perimeter of more than eight miles, writes David Kindred,
Plans were made for the site in the 1960s when it was clear that Ipswich’s underwater supply would be insufficient in the future.
Alton Water mill was built at the turn of the 19th century. It was dismantled and rebuilt at the East Anglian Rural Life Museum at Stowmarket in 1973, prior to the construction of the reservoir. In 1903, George Blackmore was employed to run the mill. He and his family lived in the mill house until the outbreak of World War Two when they moved to Ipswich. Afterwards the mill was no longer used on a commercial basis.
The next photo shows Tattingstone from the air in June 1971. The reservoir now runs across the centre of this view. St Mary’s Church is in the centre foreground. The complex of buildings were the workhouse for the Samford area. In the 1930s it became St Mary’s Hospital for the chronically sick and elderly. It closed in 1991 and the site has now been converted to residential use.
Lemons Hill runs up through the centre of the picture, a bridge across the reservoir now links the road. Do you know more about the history or have photographs of the workhouse or when the building was a hospital?
A dam was constructed at Holbrook in 1974 and water from the Tattingstone valley, and that pumped from the River Gipping, now supplies Ipswich and the southern part of Suffolk from Stowmarket to Felixstowe.
The project and filling it with water took 13 years to complete and was officially opened by the Princess Royal on July 10, 1987.
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The valley that was flooded had been mostly farmland, but also included Alton water mill and Alton Hall. The mill was dismantled and reconstructed at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket.
Alton Water Park is set in 400 acres of beautiful countryside and provides an ideal location for walks, cycle rides, wildlife spotting and family picnics, while the reservoir has water sports and fishing, attracting thousands of visitors, and there is also a café and visitors’ centre.
• Do you have memories of the area? Did you live in the valley before the reservoir was there? Share your memories via email