"Everybody loves a bridge. They are essentially romantic objects - brave, adventurous, usually handsome or at least interesting to look at, often magnificently idiosyncratic and every single one of them a seperate individual with its own personality, pedigree and background, each time to be freshly encountered and enjoyed."
Bridges. Sir Hugh Casson. 1963
The reservoir was opened in July 1967 and constructed at the instigation of the Durham County Water board and the South Shields and Sunderland Water Company to provide supplies of water to the populations served by those two organisations. Water is extracted directly from the reservoir (in contrast to Kielder which is a regulating reservoir) and treated at Mossend Treatment Works and thence goes by pipeline to customers around Wearside. There is a dam at the eastern end three thousand feet long and 120 feet high. The Derwent valley was flooded together with some farms.The reservoir is the second largest in the northeast and part of it is a nature reserve where many species of bird can be seen. There is a sailing club and a car park at the eastern end. New roads were built and picnic areas with car parks made. The Millshield Picnic area is on the north side and the Pow Hill Country park to the south, while the Carrick Haugh picnic area is at the western end. The reservoir is stocked with trout and is popular with anglers. It is operated by Northumbrian Water.
The flow of the Derwent has been adversely affected since pollution in the river was not so effectively cleared as river levels fell. In recent years, however, the closure of Consett Steel Works, Derwenthaugh Coke Works and other polluting industries, including mining, has meant a great improvement in water quality in the Derwent.