NT9924 : Water outlet, west of North Middleton

taken 8 years ago, near to North Middleton, Northumberland, Great Britain

Water outlet, west of North Middleton
Water outlet, west of North Middleton
A large and constant stream of water flows out from a pipe and descends in a steep open ditch alongside the track towards North Middleton Farm.

We discussed the possibility that a spring supplies the water but if this were so, it would be a highly productive spring, located in a very unusual situation at the summit of a small ridge. If this is the case, then the aqueduct which runs south NT9923 : Aqueduct, Old Middleton may once have been used to carry a source of fresh spring water south towards the old village.

I do not think this is the case, and as explained in the description for the aqueduct, it seems more likely that the aqueduct was made for, and still carries water in quite the opposite direction, towards the outlet shown here. A wonderful feat of hydraulic engineering.
North Middleton Aqueduct

The farmer at North Middleton confirmed the interpretation discussed here NT9923 : Aqueduct, Old Middleton

The inlet, on the stream to the south, is actually higher than the outlet to the north. However, it certainly doesn't look it, a situation he describes as an optical illusion, and told me it surprised him when he first saw it. He described it as Cheviot's version of the 'Electric Brae' in Ayrshire NS2513 : The Electric Brae Experience.

The water is conveyed through the aqueduct in a pipe which in places may be quite deep below ground level, as running water cannot be heard directly above. It is undoubtedly a lot deeper where it cuts through the top of the ridge, as the water outlet on the far side is clearly lower than the top reached by the track.

The farmer told me that there are few problems apart from an occasional blockage of the grill directly where water leaves the burn in Old Middleton deserted village. Although he didn't know when it had been made, he thought it was likely to have been in the C19th, and provided a water supply to the millpond just west of North Middleton Farm. The old pond is now covered.

Large scale OS maps, from 1895 until present, show the south end of the aqueduct as an open channel leading off the main stream to a point below the low crags where the aqueduct cap stones start today. Much of its course has now been filled in but ran slightly further north to that followed by the now underground pipe. The course of the main stream appears to have been re-routed slightly south from a bend upstream, to provide a straight input into the aqueduct channel at a slightly higher level. An overflow from this new channel bent sharply north, to rejoin the former stream bed. Water flow could have been controlled at this point by a sluice gate. After 1923, this route was also altered, and the bend to rejoin the former stream bed is now further east.

Perhaps the stream had cut its own new channel in a time of flood or after the aqueduct had gone out of use. An aerial photo of Old Middleton deserted village taken by Tim Gates in 1977 clearly shows the channel at the south end from where it leaves the stream, to its dog-leg bend which takes it to the base of the crag line at the bottom of the slope. That it is a deep channel is clearly shown as it is crossed by a bridge which carries the track from the old village. The channel has been largely filled in and only traces of its former course are now visible.

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NT9924, 29 images   (more nearby search)
Photographer
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Date Taken
Friday, 26 October, 2012   (more nearby)
Submitted
Tuesday, 30 October, 2012
Geographical Context
Uplands  Paths  Farm, Fishery, Market Gardening  Rivers, Streams, Drainage 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 9924 2411 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:30.6453N 2:0.8154W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 9925 2412
View Direction
Southwest (about 225 degrees)
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