Dam in the Sperrins prevented a ‘water famine’

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Banagher Glen in the Sperrin mountains features in next Monday’s episode of UTV’s Ulster Giants, which celebrates Northern Ireland’s rich civil engineering heritage.

Popular presenter Joe Mahon will be exploring the fascinating story about how the reservoir there was constructed almost 100 years ago.

Throughout the series Joe has been travelling all over Northern Ireland looking at the inspiring stories behind our examples of civil engineering, both outstanding individuals and the gigantic structures they created.

The programmes have been celebrating the mighty achievements of the past that have transformed our daily living, and reveal the cutting-edge technology that will shape the future of our infrastructure.

In this episode of Ulster Giants Joe visits the beautiful Banagher Glen in the Sperrin Mountains familiar to many hikers.

He will tell the inspiring story of the building of the Altnaheglish Reservoir back in the 1920s.

It is also the story of Matthew Robinson, the engineer appointed by Londonderry Corporation to save the city from a “water famine”.

The result of his pioneering efforts remains to this day.

It is a remarkable engineering achievement which involved building a dam in a remote mountain glen, constructing an access road of several miles along a steeply sloping valley and then sinking an aqueduct which allowed gravity alone to carry the water under the ground all theway to the city of Derry some 20 miles away.

Joe will then visit another dam, this time on the River Erne in Donegal and Fermanagh, which was built for entirely different purposes.

The Erne Hydro-electric Scheme, using the fall of the river to generate electricity at two separate stations along the river, Cliff and Ballyshannon, was a key element of the Republic of Ireland’s rural electrification plan.

But it was also a way of reducing the effects of flooding along the Erne’s banks in Fermanagh.

Because there was obviously a cross-border dimension to the scheme it called for a high level of co-operation between the two governments, a co-ordinated approach to controlling water levels which continues to the present day.

You can watch this episode of the programme on Monday, September 2, starting at 8pm or on the ITV catch up player.