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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted -  09/12/2011  :  09:30

POWER FOR THE PEOPLE.

Once again the vexed question of alternative energy from wind power is being debated in the local press. My personal view is that wind turbines are a thing of beauty and I love seeing them slowly turning and producing clean energy. However, I don't want to get into an argument with those who hold opposing views beyond pointing out that when they refer to our 'unspoilt' countryside and natural views that they are talking about a landscape that has been modified by the hand of man since the first inhabitants of our area felled a tree or enclosed a field.

Being an historian I am more interested in another proven source of renewable, carbon emission free energy which we used in Barlick for hundreds of years, water power. I love the bulk of the Weets and Whitemoor looming over the town to the South West. I always remember Psalm 121; 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help...' and no, I didn't have to look that up. Wycliffe Sunday School in Stockport and many years on the church choir embedded many parts of the Bible in my brain. Apart from being a superb protector of the town against the prevailing south west winds it gathers much of the rain which would otherwise fall on us and delivers it to the town down the many drains and gulleys which are the source of Gillians and Calf Hall Becks. Give our ancestors their due, they knew what to do with this water. True, some uses like handy natural sewers was one of the least attractive of these but they also managed the flow to power water mills. Ouzledale Mill was a saw mill and in later years a water-powered iron foundry. The Corn mill was driven by water and Gillians, Parrock, Mitchell's (later Clough) and Old Coates were all water driven cotton mills. County Brook Mill is in Barlick and used the water off the tail end of the Weets which flows down through Earby and onwards to the River Aire. Further down the valley towards the Ribble Valley, Bracewell Corn Mill was powered by the Stock Beck which was the combined flow of Gillians and Butts becks. For hundreds of years the water was used for useful purposes.

By the early 19th century steam power was developed and gradually usurped water power. The last working water wheels were at Clough where its power supplemented the new steam engine installed before 1827, at the Corn Mill where a turbine was installed in the mid 19th century and at County Brook where the wheel was still being used in the 1930s, Newton Pickles told me about doing repairs on it in the late 1920s when he was just starting work. However, there were easier ways of turning a mill after the 1930s, oil engines, gas engines and eventually electricity finally killed the old water wheels off. One of the things that I have often noted is that when a resource is no longer valuable to us, we tend to forget about it. Who can remember where the town wells were today? We have had no need for them since the 1890s when we got a mains water supply. The same thing happened to the power from the water running through the town, once it was not needed for the mills the old dams fell into disrepair and we forgot about it.

Of course the water is still there. That free energy source is still with us but in times like the Barlick Flood of July 1932 was seen as a danger, not a resource. Indeed it was the neglect of the water courses which allowed the high water running down from the moor to be so destructive. Incidentally this danger persists to this day and we have not yet addressed the matter of the choke points in the system. One of these days we may regret this.

Does anyone remember the 2009 initiative, 'The Barnoldswick Beckside Regeneration Scheme'? I suggested at the time that part of the project could be to install a water wheel or turbine in Clough Park powered by the same water that drove Ouzledale and Mitchell's mills providing not only an interesting feature but a source of energy. The Council were so taken by the idea that they asked for a copy of the article but since then I have heard nothing of it. My point is that I know of at least three useful sites in the town where, with minimal investment and no impact on the visual amenities, carbon-free renewable electricity could be generated and fed into the National Grid providing a small but reliable source of income. I have a friend who owns a water site who has done just this and over the years it has been profitable.

We are not talking about vast amounts of energy, in global terms it would be minuscule, but it would be a valid statement of intent and a tangible commitment to helping the environment. The stumbling block is of course the capital cost, perhaps we need to think laterally. Suppose someone pointed out to Tesco that within 200 yards of their proposed new store there was a water power site which could produce enough electricity to make a significant reduction in their energy bill, improve their carbon footprint and be a valuable public relations asset to them. I think that given the cooperation of the planning authorities a feasibility study might convince everyone that whilst this was not going to produce an enormous profit in the short term. In the long term it would pay for itself and the more energy prices rose, the more profitable it would be.

I don't expect Tesco or the Council to come knocking on my door because, like the town wells, these hidden resources have not only fallen out of mind but are automatically dismissed as pipe dreams. This could well be true but at least it's original thinking and I suspect we would get more progress on renewable energy if we thought the unthinkable, looked closely at the possibilities and didn't allow ourselves to be ruled by short term thinking. Such a use of existing resources would be Power for the People in more ways than one.

Butts Beck. This dam served the corn mill and is still in good order.


Stanley Challenger Graham




Barlick View
stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk

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Tardis
Regular Member


453 Posts
Posted - 09/12/2011 : 10:54
Stanley, if you go and check the Pendle resources you will discover that they have done studies on the water power that is available.

They have identified several sites, none of which are actually within the bounds of Barnoldswick. I am not an engineer but do understand that it requires a 40' drop of water over a certain distance to make the project economic. Maybe you can more readily tease the relevant facts from it, because at some points I'm afraid I'm left baffled.

On top of which, in ye olden days there wasn't an environment agency who worried about firms taking water from the becks, and putting it back a little further down stream thus leaving a much lower level of water inbetween. Plus turbines do affect fish migration, which Cllr Whipp is currently championing with his "fish ladder" project for Victory Park.


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thomo
Barlick Born Old Salt


2021 Posts
Posted - 09/12/2011 : 12:45
"Fish ladder for Victory Park"? Have fish returned to that once heavily polluted area? and how will they get past B & Ds, a fish lift perhaps?!!!!

Edited by - thomo on 09/12/2011 12:47:04 PM


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panbiker
Senior Member


2300 Posts
Posted - 09/12/2011 : 14:40
I spotted a few minnows during the summer down at the iron bridge out of the park, A far cry from the buckets full of minnows, sticklebacks and bullheads that you could get without much bother when I was a lad (red bellies as well).

Upper and lower reaches had plenty of trout that you could "tickle" if you knew where the best bits were. Below Greeberfield and above Calf Hall up as far as Springs were favorite areas for the decent fish under the banks.


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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 09/12/2011 : 15:01
quote:
panbiker wrote:
Upper and lower reaches had plenty of trout that you could "tickle" if you knew where the best bits were.
Catgate would probably say "Just behind the pectoral fins"!


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panbiker
Senior Member


2300 Posts
Posted - 09/12/2011 : 15:49
And I would deserve it Tiz, not very good grammar on my partEmbarassed


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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 10/12/2011 : 05:36
Michael, my suggestions are based on experience not reading other people's reports. How do you think we ran a water-powered industry for over 100 years? All sites are in Barlick and viable.


Stanley Challenger Graham




Barlick View
stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk Go to Top of Page
Tardis
Regular Member


453 Posts
Posted - 10/12/2011 : 10:31
They were viable for the damping of steam engines, but running a turbine to generate electricity may be somewhat different.

I am meeting someone from Pendle on Wednesday, if you want I can ask them to see if they are willing to bring along the hydro report.

As I said it might mean much more to an engineer, but I was disappointed by the content. I am no expert in such stuff, but if someone is paid for it then their view may stand up to scrutiny.

There is a possibility of small power generation projects, but Pendle are of the view that they could have very long pay back dates, and as I stated above you will have rather a large battle with the environment agency (and the other pressure groups) about taking the water from the beck and affecting the wildlife.

Before any of that happens, I would suggest that someone investigates the head waters of the becks with a view to planting a lot of trees to stem the "flood" when it rains and even out the flow of the water. Then have a very long chat with United Utilities about the storm drains which just empty directly into the beck and cause their own ecological damage. Flood spates cause river bed material to move and that may not be conducive to the smooth operation of the turbines.

I hear that Hollins Court is being fitted with GeoThermal heat source pumps which may directly affect Valley Gardens. I'm not sure if long term studies have been done on removing heat from below plants.


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pluggy
Geek


1164 Posts
Posted - 10/12/2011 : 11:59
Ground source heat pump is more likely unless theres volcanic activity under valley gardens I don't know about.

They have little or no effect more than a couple of metres from the evaporator element since the ground is a relatively poor conductor of heat. Its unlikely they will site the ground source off their own property.  It may chill their lawn/gardens a little but its not going to affect valley gardens particulary at the other side of the beck (which is an excellent conductor of heat).


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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 10/12/2011 : 12:25
quote:
Tardis wrote:
Before any of that happens, I would suggest that someone investigates the head waters of the becks with a view to planting a lot of trees to stem the "flood" when it rains and even out the flow of the water. Then have a very long chat with United Utilities about the storm drains which just empty directly into the beck and cause their own ecological damage. Flood spates cause river bed material to move and that may not be conducive to the smooth operation of the turbines.
Tardis, good ecology there, I wish more people in companies, local authorities, government etc understood it too. Many trees have been removed without any attention given to the moderating effects on rate of drainage into streams, rivers and reservoirs.

Pluggy, your mention of volcanic activity reminded me of the Cuadrilla fracking experiments. Did you hear the progarmme about the Blackpool experiment on Radio 4 this week - very interesting and balanced.


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pluggy
Geek


1164 Posts
Posted - 10/12/2011 : 14:40
No I ddn't Tizer. My mind is made up on the shale gas question.  We should go for it. A couple of 'earthquakes' one of which you could barely feel if you were stood on top of it (magnitude 2.x) and the other which was only detectable with seismometers (magnitude 1.x), which MAY have been caused by fracking is a none argument in my book. Small insignifiant earthquakes of less than magnitude 3 occur thousands of times a year anyway. Its only when they get above 6 do they do real damage and make the news. Ones of 3.x which loosen the odd chimney pot will make the local/regional news here because they are rare in this country. 

The more CO2 argument doesn't carry much weight with me either, the greenies may like to think that wind, wave and solar are viable, but they are expensive and they make the stuff when they want, not when you want. You need backups to produce it when they aren't and if you've got a lot of it, you need somewhere to get rid of it when you've got a glut of it. (You could do what Denmark does and PAY Norway and Sweden to take it off your hands assuming you've got good Inter country power links. Dumping it into heat sinks is probably cheaper... ).  

Natural / shale gas (same stuff) is an efficient and quick way to generate electric when you need it, It lends itself readily to use in combined cycle power stations which are both quick to run up (the gas plant part any way) and efficient (when the steam plant is also running).  Nuclear doesn't like varying loads and are used almost exclusively for base load in this country, coal produces a lot of CO2 and is reasonably efficient only when running flat out. Big coal stations like Drax again are used for base load. A lot of renewable power would make the national grids job a lot harder because they won't know how much they need when which isn't the case when you can predict load by the temperature, day of the week and time like they can now.

On top of that, it produces quite a few well paid jobs and it gives us a degree of energy security (because its here, not shipped in from from some far place with dodgy politics /extremists / foreign policy like Russia or the middle east). 

This time round we should keep it to ourselves and not sell it for a quick buck overseas like we did with our own natural gas and North Sea oil.

This from somebody with 'green' solar panels on his roof and prides himself on his lack of xenophobic tendancies.......... 



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thomo
Barlick Born Old Salt


2021 Posts
Posted - 10/12/2011 : 15:41
One of my tasks as an engineer in the Navy was generating electricity, enough in some cases to power a small town. For Turbo Generators the steam input was 440 psi, the diesels were Davey Paxman, all were efficient, but costly in terms of energy required to run them, Any efficiency gained from the steam was by way of it being used again as heating for other equipment, ie feed water and fuel heating or desalination plants. The power available from water here in Barlick for electricity generation would be inadequate at best, and in a good Summer or drought, virtually non existant, Turbo Hydro Electricts need a massive head of water to make them efficient, not practical here.


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Whyperion
Regular Member


122 Posts
Posted - 11/12/2011 : 00:09
Power station for Barnoldswick ?

There is probably a site where water power ( though this seems to be not much more than to charge up a 12v car battery - about the same power as a car engine , useful but not enough for many users , Solar on the roof, run a diesel generator on recycled take away frying oil ( are there enough areas of supply in Barnoldswick ) , and add a vertical wind powered generator , could be useful.


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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 11/12/2011 : 06:45
Water had nothing to do with steam engine power apart from cooling condensers. No power derived from water flow. Corn Mill and County Brook both ran on turbines as replacements for wheels. Main point about water power in Barlick isn't the size of the resource but the principle of using what power there is to concentrate people's minds on the possibilities of renewable energy. Every little helps and there are tens of thousands of neglected water sites in England alone. I spent a year reseaching water power in the Lake District and it was amazing the number of turbines that were still in situ and unused.

Tress on headwaters is not a factor in Barlick. Doubrful if Whitemoor was ever wooded and if so, thousands of years ago. The moderator on Weets is the peat moss cover which is an effective reservoir until it becomes water-soaked and it is a sudden event on a soaked moor that causes exceptional run off. The flooding problem in Barlick is mainly the choke points and one sugestion I made was to do away with the Clough culvert which was the main culprit in July 1932 flood. Water has to get away through the existing becks and the correct policy is to remove choke points and allow free draining. Even so, a hundred year event like the 1932 flood can never be foreseen or avoided. Flow was eight feet deep in Butts and even if the culvert hadn't choked and sent the flow above ground in Wapping the weight of water would still have been there lower down the system.


Stanley Challenger Graham




Barlick View
stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk Go to Top of Page
Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 11/12/2011 : 10:30
Pluggy, the podcast of the shale gas programme is on this BBC page - LINK

They talked to both Cuadrilla, British Geological Society and local people. Interesting stuff. I agree with you about the earthquakes - people forget, or don't know, that the Richter scale is logarithmic and that a scale 2 is one-thousand times weaker than a 5. Also, triggering frequent small, insignificant earthquakes releases pent-up energy in that local area of the earth's crust and prevents a big, potentially damaging earthquake later.

Stanley, a good point about the peat moss, there is going to be an increasing frequency of those water-soaked run-of events. Once they occur more often the run-off will create those chasms I remember so well on the tops of the Bowland Fells and which in dry weather get carved out even more by the wind. Then the peat reservoir can't work effectively and the water shoots down the chasms and straight off the tops in heavy rain.


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tripps
Senior Member


1404 Posts
Posted - 11/12/2011 : 12:20
Earthquakes - there was a report on BBC last week of a small one in Cornwall. and Wadebidge area was mentioned.  No mention yet from Bradders. I wonder if he noticed it?


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