Knipton Reservoir

New research reveals forgotten industrial treasure

"We can learn so much from the thinking and engineering expertise behind Knipton in approaching tomorrow’s infrastructure, such as HS2.”
Ian Houston, Associate, LDA Design

Historic England has extended the designation of the Belvoir Estate in Leicestershire to include a previously overlooked gem, Knipton Reservoir, following detailed research by landscape historian and writer Steffie Shields and LDA Design.

In a move set to protect the future of the site for generations to come, Historic England has included the reservoir in the boundary and description of Belvoir Castle on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.

Leicestershire County Council has also recognised the site as one of special interest, adding it to the county’s Historic Environment Record of archaeological remains and historic buildings.

Situated within one of England’s most beautiful parkland settings, which has close associations with renowned landscape designers including Capability Brown and Harold Peto, Knipton Reservoir was designed to feed Grantham Canal. This 33mile-long industrial canal is thought to be the first in England to rely on floodwater reservoirs. It was built in 1797 between Nottingham and Grantham to extend the network for transporting coal and bulk fertiliser.

Research carried out by Steffie Shields and LDA Design’s Ian Houlston has revealed the reservoir’s historical significance for the first time. It was designed to be a striking feature in a naturalistic setting, with new plantations to enhance its visual and aesthetic appeal and frame views to local church spires, a boathouse and nearby cottage.

The serpentine reservoir dam is crossed by the Croxton Avenue riding, which has also been included within the registered boundary, and still offers up some of the finest views on the Belvoir estate.

“Knipton Reservoir is a significant part of England’s industrial heritage,” explains Capability Brown expert, Steffie Shields, who has authored a detailed report on the site. “Unusually, it was designed to provide flood protection and grow the local economy, at the same time providing a place of recreation and beauty in the Brownian picturesque manner so successfully that it attracted Royal visitors.”

LDA Design’s Ian Houston adds: “The reservoir is an early example of how engineering performance and aesthetics can be aligned to integrate innovative large-scale infrastructure into its wider landscape setting to enhance rather than diminish. We can learn so much from the thinking and engineering expertise behind Knipton in approaching tomorrow’s infrastructure, such as HS2.”

Please contact Ian for more information.

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