4 March 2017

Bellmouth

For some reason, I like the word "bellmouth". It is a technical term in the water industry to describe a massive stone plughole in a reservoir. In times of flood, the bellmouth allows water to overflow whence it is channelled to the original river valley beyond the dam. Sometimes dams are constructed so that excess water simply flows over the dam wall but where earth and clay embankment dams are concerned, the bellmouth method has been widely used.

The biggest reservoir near Sheffield is in The Derwent Valley. It is called The Ladybower Reservoir. Its construction was finished in 1943 and required the inundation of two little villages - Ashopton and Derwent. Physical evidence that they existed still lies below the water. Near the dam wall there are two massive bellmouths into which excess water plunges thirty metres before joining spillways that lead down to the course of the old river.

I took this picture of the eastern bellmouth in August 2012. As you can see the water level is well below the edge of the great stone hole:-
But on Thursday afternoon, water was cascading into the same bellmouth:-
And this was the scene at the western bellmouth looking to one of the reservoir's two road viaducts:-
Yes, "bellmouth" is a good word but it is a scary proposition. Every time I stand by one I get the jitters, half-imagining plunging down to Hades. Just for good measure, here's another smaller bellmouth in the conduit that joins the upper reservoir at nearby Redmires but even that one gives me the willies:-
I think that "bellmouth" would be a useful term for certain human beings. People with big hollow mouths who in fact  have little of value to say. Numerous politicians and radio DJ's come to mind.

19 comments:

  1. I wonder how many people have been disposed of down one of those in the past. Certainly a scary looking object stuck in the water like that, never seen one before.

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    1. Someone made an amateurish YouTube video of the descent to the spillway and out again. See this link:-
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmZFV01pNCg

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  2. I've never seen anything like that. I think it's quite beautiful,but like you I would not want to stand too close.

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    1. Human beings can be so ingenious can't they Wenda? I read that those big bellmouths used to have walkways round them which sightseers could access. Ugh!

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  3. "The Bellmouth of the Ladybower" sounds quite poetic. Like a sequel to "The Lady of Shallotte."

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    1. Ha-ha! One could recite it while drifting towards the bellmouth in a small inflatable boat. The last line would then be - AAAAAAARGGH! PLOP!

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  4. Bellmouths are quite common. I refer you to the article "Spillway" in Wikipedia.

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    1. Thank you for the signpost to "Spillway".

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  5. I just saw a picture of one of these the other day; I believe it was in the U.S. I get the same jittery feeling when I look at them as you do ... large bodies of water frighten me to begin with and these watery holes make it worse! Interesting to read about, though, and they perform a very useful function.

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    1. Just like a plughole in the bathroom but on a much bigger scale.

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  6. I've never heard the term before. I ill have to see if we have any bellmouths here. I wonder how ice would do going down the bellmouth.

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    1. That reservoir sometimes ices over and I am sure that the engineers factored this in to their design. In northern England it would be extremely rare for the ice to ever be more than half an inch in thickness.

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    2. Wow! 1/2 an inch. You can't even walk on that. Here lake ice usually gets to 24 in thick. Then we bore a hole through it and drop a fishing line down and fish! Nuts eh?

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  7. I can understand your feeling jittery when looking upon the "bellmouth". The thought of being dragged down into it would give me the jitters, too - a horrible image and thought!

    "Bellmouth"...a good, descriptive name. It certainly suits a couple of people I know who I wish I didn't know! lol I'd better not add it to my vocabulary, though, because my big bellmouth might end up calling them that to their face! (But, on the other hand, they'd be too busy listening to themselves, they'd probably not notice)! Hehehehe!

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    1. I shudder at the thought of tumbling into the bellmouth but I also shudder when I hear a mature woman going "Hehehehe!" Pointy hats and cauldrons come to mind.

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    2. You picture me perfectly, Yorkie.

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  8. I think a bellmouth is less scary and a a lot prettier than a dam wall.
    There is a water feature at Darling Harbour here in Sydney, a spiral with a small stream of water running down. There are always children in it getting their shoes wet. Your cascading bellmouth looks quite a lot like it

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    1. I will have to advise local parents that their noisy brats can have a fun time at the bottom of a bellmouth!

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  9. I have never ever seen anything even remotely similar to that!!! Astonishing pictures of a scary construction, like a black hole or something taken out of a science fiction film. Bellmouth people? Well, they do exist, hopefully I'm not one..... The cows in your other post where lovely YP, but I am real sorry your knees are giving you a hard time. I started my blog because of a bad hip that has been reconstructed, but my knees are still ok. Since you like your long strolls I really wish you can find something to keep going. Up here we use turmeric and rose hip, both in powder and lotion.

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