WORSBROUGH Mill today celebrated the reopening of its reservoir after a £2.4m investment which will preserve the historic visitor attraction for decades to come.

The reservoir’s crumbling bankside walls required immediate repair work having been lashed by waves and have been put right following a six-month project.

The metre-high walls around Worsbrough Reservoir are a favourite place for local anglers but had become unstable as wave action undermined their foundations.

Built in 1793, the 60-acre reservoir holds 266,000 cubic metres of water – about the same amount as used by over 2,200 homes in a year.

It is located inside the 240-acre Worsbrough Mill Country Park, home to a wide range of wildlife and habitats and criss-crossed with pathways for walkers, while the reservoir itself is also home to a continuous stock of carp and other angling species, making it a popular fishing spot.

A decision was made to close the northern and southern shores at the Barnsley Council-owned site in May last year but the areas requiring attention proved difficult to access for machinery, which resulted in a temporary access track being made.

Contractor Balfour Beatty removed and rebuilt it with the help of Salix River and Wetland Services, using pre-filled rock bags, known as ‘mattresses’.

Project manager Chris Smith said: “We’ve built the new wall this way rather than the traditional gabions or concrete piling.

“Stones measuring around 40mm to 80mm in diameter have been used, where traditionally 100mm to 150 mm stones would be used.

“The smaller stone encourages aquatic invertebrates – a major source of food for many freshwater fish – to settle in the spaces between rocks.

“In the end this means a more natural bankside for local wildlife and a boost for anglers.

“Scour or soil erosion is a major concern in the water sector. Because it’s a natural process, working against it with traditional engineering solutions like rock armour or sheet piling will only get you so far. By working with nature, using more sensitive solutions that are less impactful, nature is allowed to thrive while you can protect against erosion.”

Today’s event marked the end of the work – and the reopening for angling and walking.

Balfour Beatty spokesperson Chris South added: “The rock mattresses arrived on site pre-made which, coupled with the fact you could tie them together, meant that wagon loads to site were reduced. They were quicker to install than traditional-faced gabion baskets and they produce a natural look, which was in keeping with the surroundings of the site.”

The project will also see some landscaping works completed by the spring.

Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for culture and regeneration, said: “Worsbrough Mill Country Park is not only an important part of Barnsley’s history but also significant in terms of ecology. It is home to many important habitats. It’s vital that we protect and preserve the area and its wildlife.

“The essential reservoir improvement works will make it a safe and sustainable place to visit.”