Manuscripts and Special Collections

Stoke Bardolph Sewage works and Bulcote Model Farm, 1892-1975

The Nottingham and Leen Valley Sewerage Board was established following the Nottingham and District Sewerage Act of 1872. There had been much discussion about ways in which to deal with the pollution of the River Trent and River Leen from the city of Nottingham and surrounding areas.

In 1877 the Board's powers passed to the Corporation of Nottingham. The Corporation leased 638 acres of land at Stoke Bardolph from Earl Manvers in 1878, and later purchased the estate. Construction of a sewage farm began under the direction of the Municipal Engineer M. Ogle Tarbotton.

Surveys of the land at Stoke Bardolph identified it as a suitable area with good drainage, where the sewage could be disposed of by means of spreading it on farm land and letting it seep through into the soil. The first sewage was received on 17 June 1880. The area covered by the farm increased in subsequent years and it soon extended into the neighbouring parish of Bulcote. The farm was a fully-functioning agricultural business, selling milk produced from cows grazing on the land.

Aerial photograph of the Stoke Bardolph site (RWA/F/4/9/3)
Aerial photograph of the Stoke Bardolph site (RWA/F/4/9/3) 


In 1936 a combined scheme for Main Drainage and Sewage Disposal Works in the Corporation of Nottingham was inaugurated. New piping systems and a pumping station at Sneinton brought extra sewage to the farm, and new buildings were opened providing for preliminary treatment of the sewage before the effluent was spread on the land.

Plan of the Stoke Bardolph estate, 1978 (RWA/Pr/4 p.13)
Plan of the Stoke Bardolph estate, 1978 (RWA/Pr/4 p.13) 


Stoke Bardolph is currently the largest of over 30 sewage works in Nottinghamshire. Much of the sewage sludge produced during the treatment is still injected into the land at Stoke Bardolph and Bulcote Farm, and treated water is discharged into the River Trent. There has also been much investment in new processes and technologies, including the generation of electricity to power the plant using the biogas from the sewage.



The records were transferred to the University Library by the Lower Trent Division of the Severn Trent Water Authority in 1981.

Multi-level descriptions of the Stoke Bardolph and Bulcote Model Farms records are available through the Manuscripts Online Catalogue.

The collection is made up of large ledgers and volumes recording the work of the farms from 1892, a decade after the sewage farm became operational, up to 1973. The records include ledgers and accounts, sales records, details of horses, livestock and tractors, and wage records. Some of the series of ledgers, such as the wage records span lengthy time periods, revealing developments such as pensions, war allowances, and the employment of women and boys. Customers listed in the sales ledgers include many local businesses and institutions, such as University College Nottingham's halls of residence. The records show how the use of motor vehicles and tractors took over from horses in terms of transportation needs, but animals continued to play an important role, and at times, the farm has been a centre of pedigree shire horses, pigs and cows.  


Next page: Plans of Papplewick Pumping Station 

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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