Trusts and Partnerships Join Forces on a Victorian Aquaduct

Volunteers with Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham Project, along with volunteers from Northumberland Wildlife Trust, joined the four man team from Northumbrian Water Conservation Department for a day of action.

The two trusts benefit from a working partnership with Northumbrian Water which provides the salary for the two trust officers. This is a valuable partnership which allows them to work on conservation projects within their own area while at the same time helping to provide help and support on the numerous water assets that Northumbrian Water holds and manages for wildlife and biodiversity between the two counties.

Once a year the two partnerships and volunteers meet up to carry out a conservation task. This year the Heart of Durham ventured across the Northumberland border to Whittle Dene water treatment works.

Built in around 1840, the Victorian aqueduct carried water from the Whittle Dene reservoirs to Throckley on the outskirts of Newcastle, providing the people of Newcastle and Gateshead with a steady, clean and regular supply of water.

The aqueduct is now no longer used, but this linear feature is an important wildlife corridor running for about one mile from the Whittle Dene treatment works east to Northside Farm where it goes underground. The thin strips of land either side of the aqueduct are managed by Northumberland Wildlife Trust and include species-rich grassland and woodland habitats.

Anne Porter, Heart of Durham Project Officer, said: “Durham Wildlife Trust volunteers have been using scythes to manage grassland habitats for more than four years and love them. They have developed their scything skills which have been referred to as ‘not pretty but effective’. They are champions of the art and were willing to extol the virtues to the Northumberland volunteers.”

So with a 12-strong scything team they set at the banks of the aqueduct and made a very impressive difference. Meanwhile other intrepid volunteers braved the cold and wet of the aqueduct itself to clear away typha and pond weed.