22/05/2006

Water Service commemorates Reservoir deaths

A memorial dedicated to the nine men who died during the construction of the Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs has been unveiled today by the Water Service.

The ceremony was held at the Silent Valley Reservoir where the memorial has been erected and was attended by relatives of the men who lost their lives.

The Mourne granite memorial was unveiled by Katharine Bryan, Chief Executive of Water Service who paid tribute to those who died.

She said: “It has been a great honour to unveil this memorial on behalf of Water Service. It is a fitting tribute to the nine men who made the ultimate sacrifice, many at such a young age, so that the Belfast area could have a regular and reliable supply of clean drinking water.

“It has been a very poignant day, however I am delighted to have been able to meet so many relatives of those who lost their lives and formally recognise the lasting contribution made by the men so many years ago.”

After the unveiling, nine native trees were planted to represent the lives lost during the construction of both dams.

The Silent Valley Reservoir was constructed between 1923 and 1933 by a workforce of around 2000 men made up of locals from the Mourne area along with many others from across Great Britain and Ireland.

Although celebrated on completion as one of the great civil engineering achievement of its time sadly eight men died during its construction, six from Northern Ireland.

Following the war, the Water Commissioners decided that it was necessary to use the full yield of water available from the Silent Valley catchment area in order to meet higher demands.

As a result the Ben Crom Reservoir was constructed between 1953 and 1957 in the Upper Silent Valley.

A total of 186 men were involved in building the mass gravity dam but regrettably one person was killed, a foreman joiner from Northern Ireland.

(EF/GB)

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