A £2.1m flood alleviation project has had an unexpected benefit – uncovering some of Spen’s past.
The scheme to improve the sewarage system and reduce the risk of sewage flooding into homes and roads in Cleckheaton, is now complete, and Yorkshire Water is thanking people living nearby for their patience.
However they also revealed that their excavations have uncovered a stash of old bottles, some dating back over 100 years.
Among them is a Holgate and Fentiman’s Botanical Brewer’s bottle dated 1912 and some Victorian ink bottles.
The scheme involved the installation of a huge underground waste water storage tank in land near St Peg Close which can hold two million litres of waste water – the same volume of water in an Olympic swimming pool.
To connect the new tank to the current sewer network, contractors BarhaleWSP also installed 728 metres of new sewer under St Peg Close and Brooke Street. It was while digging to build the new sewer that workers found the old bottles buried in the ground.
Holgate and Fentimans was started by Thomas Fentiman, an iron pedlar, who began making ginger beer after a fellow tradesman borrowed money from him. Their deal was sealed with a handshake, and security in the form of a recipe for the drink.
The loan was never repaid, so Thomas took the recipe and began brewing it for family and friends from premises at Rawfolds. It is still produced to this day in Northumberland.
Project manager Melissa Reynard said: “We’re pleased to announce the completion of the project which will benefit almost 40 properties which previously suffered from sewer flooding.
“We understand the project was disruptive to residents at times and would like to thank them for their patience.”
She said residents had sent many letters thanking the workmen for their friendliness and professionalism.