Manuscripts and Special Collections

Severn Trent Water Authority, 1974-1989


Officially constituted on 14 August 1973, the Severn Trent Water Authority took over control from the Trent River Authority on 1 April 1974, and also assumed responsibility for sewerage and sewage disposal from local authorities, water supply from statutory undertakers, and land drainage, fisheries, and prevention of river pollution, from the river authorities. It was one of ten water authorities, and was named after the two main rivers in its catchment, the Severn and the Trent. Its catchment area covered 8000 square miles, stretching from the Bristol Channel to the River Humber, and from mid-Wales to Rutland.

Initially there were 23 single purpose divisions (including two river divisions), within Severn Trent Water Authority, in order to continue operations at local level during the transitional period, but as planning of water resources and water reclamation needed to be controlled by headquarters, this meant that the river divisions had less of a role to play. The Nottingham Water Supply Division was based at Hucknall Road, Nottingham (previously the headquarters of the City of Nottingham Water Department which had been responsible for water supply).

Following reorganisation, which came into operation on 1 April 1975, the Authority restructured into eight new operating divisions. The area in the East Midlands formerly covered by the Trent River Authority, became part of the Lower Trent Division, which had its headquarters at Mapperley Hall, Nottingham, with other offices at Hucknall Road and Trentside, in Nottingham, and also Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. Based on Nottinghamshire, the Division also included parts of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Yorkshire and Humberside. This Division, together with the Lower Severn Division, was rather exceptional within the new structure as its predecessor bodies were river boards rather than water boards.

In 1987 the Divisions merged and became four new Divisions, Western, Northern, Southern, and Eastern, the latter formed from the Lower Trent Division and Soar Division, with a Management Centre based at Leicester Water Centre. These new Divisions were further divided into fifteen operating districts, with district offices at Nottingham, Leicester and Mansfield. The ten water authorities were sold as water service companies and passed into private ownership in 1989.  


Multi-level descriptions of the Severn Trent Water Authority records are available through the Manuscripts Online Catalogue. The catalogue was produced in 2011-2012 with support from The National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme.

The material currently held by the University gives a very fragmented picture of the work of the Authority. Files (RWA/F) cover a diverse range of topics, and originate from a number of the different divisions and districts which have existed over time. They include papers of the Nottingham Water Supply Division Management Committee (1974-1975), files belonging to the Photographer of Lower Trent Division (1978-1981), a press file of newspaper cuttings relating to the Authority and general water issues (1975-1977), location maps and lists of water works of the Nottingham District (1974-1977). Of particular interest are research papers on the history of Stoke Bardolph Water Reclamation Works for its centenary (1978-1980), and a collection of tender documents and plans relating to the restoration of Wilford Suspension Bridge, Nottingham, in 1983-1984.

There is a fairly comprehensive run of minutes, from 1974 to the early 1980s, of the Authority and its various committees, but very few annual reports (RWA/G).

A large volume of photographic material is present (RWA/Ph), including an indexed Lower Trent Division collection of contact sheets and slides showing various works, aerial photographs of water works and flooding incidents, and staff portraits (some intended for use in 'Downstream', the newspaper for staff of the Lower Trent Division).

The small collection of plans (RWA/P) of various dates are mostly Lower Trent Division drawings and sections of reservoir improvements, including Belle Vue Reservoir in Nottingham and Redhill Reservoir, Nottinghamshire, work on mains pipes, at Basford, Nottingham, and a series of Nottingham Water Supply Division plans (dating back to 1971) relating to easements for the Southern Area trunk main.

Printed material (RWA/Pr) includes a series of issues of the 'Stream' newspaper for the period 1978-1981, published by the Authority for all Severn Trent and East Worcestershire Waterworks Company employees, which provides useful information about the day to day work of the Authority, its technical developments, and staff members, etc. Also present are commemorative publications relating to Stoke Bardolph Water Reclamation Works, a thesis on river navigation, various technical reports, and a bundle of pamphlets and leaflets aimed at the general public or intended to communicate to children the issues around the treatment of water, water conservation, water safety, etc.    

Severn Trent Water Authority booklet for children, pre-1987, featuring 'Effie the Effluent' to explain the water cycle, water treatment, and water pollution (RWA/Pr/10)
Severn Trent Water Authority booklet for children, pre-1987, featuring 'Effie the Effluent' to explain the water cycle, water treatment, and water pollution (RWA/Pr/10) 



Next page:  Severn Trent Water, 1989-1996 

Manuscripts and Special Collections

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