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RICS 150

5 DEC 2018

William Telford Gunson: Thirlmere dam & aqueduct

William Telford Gunson was born in Durham in November 1839. He made his name in surveying working on the Thirlmere dam and aqueduct.

The project was built between 1890 and 1925 and helped meet the dramatic growth in demand for water in post-industrial Manchester.

William trained as a civil engineer, architect and surveyor, before relocating to Manchester where he worked in the city surveyor's office for ten years. William then went on to serve as a member of Manchester City Council from 1884 until 1892.

In 1884 William joined the team that conducted the survey for Thirlmere dam and aqueduct. The aqueduct took eight years to construct and the entire project took over 35 years to complete. 3,000 men were involved in its construction. Running water first arrived in Manchester from Thirlmere in the Lake District in 1894.

To this day the aqueduct still delivers water to Manchester city; in fact it recently underwent a £25 million restoration programme. It delivers 220 million litres of drinking water each day, which is 11% of the North West's drinking water, from the Lake District to Manchester in a 36 hour journey. When the M6 motorway was under construction a section of the aqueduct was diverted, such is its importance. Another section has also been rerouted to accommodate a new road. The 96 mile journey is entirely gravity-reliant and has no pumps along its route.

William founded WT Gunson, a commercial estate agent and surveying firm, in 1873. He was joined by his son shortly after founding and the pair combined to successfully deliver some of the region's finest churches, as well as public buildings such as Lytham Pier and Pavilion and Hyde Reform Club. The firm still operates across Manchester and the North West today.