Cat no. 790

The Hanningfield Scheme

Running time23:20 Colour Sound 1960 Hanningfield, Essex

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The building of the Hanningfield scheme to provide water for Southend-on-Sea and South Essex, and the official opening of the site.


DocumentaryIndustrial / Sponsored Film

A record of the construction of the Hanningfield reservoir between September 1952 and its opening in 1957: an animated plan explains the construction theory. In the second year of construction there is damming and pipe laying on the River Chelmer. Water treatment facilities are shown in some detail. By 1954, the site is almost complete; a steam powered grading machine is in use. The first water arrives at the reservoir in 1955: views of the pumping station at Langford, the treatment plant at Hanningford, laboratories, accelerators and the sludge lagoon. Filtration is explained. There are shots of the access roads, buildings and landscaped areas. The site is officially opened by the Minister of Housing and Local Government who plants a tree. The potential leisure uses of the site are pointed out.

Shots of the South Essex and Southend Water Company building, and factory buildings with people leaving work. The narrator explains the expansion of Essex new towns and therefore increase in population requires an increase in the supply of water. Montage of shots show water and its many uses; rain and puddles, a kettle boiling, a baby being bathed, London’s Trafalgar Square fountain, a train emerging from a washing shed.

In 1952, the South Essex and Southend Water Companies embarked on one of the largest post-war water schemes in the country; The Hanningfield Scheme. Officials on the steps at the Hanningfield water treatment plant following the opening of the reservoir in 1957.

A map of Essex shows the districts covered by the South Essex Water Company, and the Southend Water Company, and the sources of their water supplies. The map then shows the site of the Hanningfield Reservoir, a joint project of these two companies, with its water source at Langford. An illustrated diagram of the reservoir shows a dam, water entry-point, outlet, valve-tower, pumping station, and treatment plant.

September 1952; the foundations of the valve tower and work being carried out on site of the main dam, with bulldozers moving gravel. An animated diagram shows the valve pumping station.

Excavating machines burrow down to the London clay bed on which the dam's core will be set. Clay is carried on conveyor belts to the "sausage machine", which minces the clay and mixes it with water to the correct consistency; the clay is carried to position by truck, and spread and beaten down into a solid mass by the workers’ boots.

During the second year of construction, steel pipes are laid in trenches, this is to carry the water from Langford to Hanningfield. The River Chelmer is drained to allow for work to be carried out. The aforementioned pipeline is encased in concrete. Returning to the Hanningfield site where construction of the valve-tower and pumping plant is continuing, with aerial shots of the accelators.

By 1954, the valve-tower is nearly complete and concrete slabbing has been laid on part of the embankment. A special machine mixes and lays concrete, and positions the slabs, and the embankment is swept clean with a tractor and attached leveler.

Nine months later; the main aqueduct carries water down to the reservoir. There are aerial views of the reservoir followed by the installation of equipment inside the pumping station.

By 1956, the reservoir is nearly completed. A road runs along the main embankment, and sludge pipes go to the lagoons. At the Langford pumping station, inside are the flow pumps. The treatment plant buildings at Hanningfield, then the detailed process of water softening is shown. Chemicals are added to the water in the accelators and bags of chemicals are unloaded from a lorry. Demonstration of how the sodium silicate and alumina flocculate reacts in water. A bulk delivery of limestone is unloaded at the site. The limestone passes through a crusher, and, together with soda ash is added to the water to reduce its hardness. Sludge collects in the accelators and is pumped off to the sludge lagoons. The clear, soft water, is drawn off at the accelator surface and is channeled to the contact tank. Here, activated carbon is added to remove residual taste or odour, and carbon dioxide gas to reduce alkalinity. Two pipes are shown, one corroded, the other uncorroded. Inside the filter house, cleaning the filter bed.

Sampling and recording water content at each stage of purification is done in the laboratory. Water is finally sterilized with ammonia and chlorine. An overhead shot of the grounds where underneath is a storage tank. At the completed pumping station with various shots of buildings, and the reservoir, completely fenced around, with service roads, and staff housing. Henry Brooke, Minister of Housing at Local Government, plants a tree at a ceremony to mark the start of a landscape garden programme. There are views of the gardens, birds at the reservoir and fishing at the reservoir and shots of the surrounding countryside.

Featured Organisations:

The Southend and South Essex Waterworks Companies

Featured Events:

The opening of the Hanningfield Scheme, September 1957

Featured Buildings:

The pumping station, Langford; The water treatment plant, Hanningford

Hanningfied Water Joint Management Committee

Stanley Schofield

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