Weston Turville Reservoir was also variously labelled as Weston Reservoir and more confusingly as Halton Reservoir in maps and Newspapers right up until the early 1960s.

A reservoir at Weston Turville was proposed in the second Parliamentary Bill relating to the Grand Junction Canal in 1794. The viability of the Grand Junction Canal was dependent upon supplying adequate water to the highest point of the Grand Junction Canal at Tring summit. The proposed solution was a feeder canal diverting the water from River Wendover and Wendover Springs in conjunction with a reservoir to reliably provide “Compensation Water” to the mills whose water rights or physical mills had not been purchased by the Grand Junction Canal Company. Weston Turville Reservoir was constructed between 1797 and 1798 and road layouts, parish boundaries and land ownership changed to accommodate it.[1]

There were however already more efficient technologies for milling and the undershot mills were soon superseded removing the need for the supply of “Compensation Water”. This was convenient because the Wendover feeder canal leaked badly and in 1814 a steam engine was installed at the reservoir to pump water into the canal in an attempt to maintain the water level. The pump was in use for almost 25 years. [1] [4]

When constructed, the reservoir held 104 million gallons of water.[10] Back in 1853, Weston Turville Reservoir was described as “covering about 70 acres, and in the deeps there are upward of 30 feet of water".[2] Today, it has silted up considerably and is described as a 19 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.[3] The deepest areas are now about 3 metres, the discrepancy in depths doesn't imply a 6 metre build up of silt, the run-off built in 1833 indicates that the water level was over 3.5 metres higher at the time.[6] It was estimated that in 1969 there were 40 million gallons of water in the reservoir.[10]

Having such a large body of water nearby, did pose a risk to local inhabitants (and to a lesser extent still does) and in 1937, Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News included the following article.

"FLOODING.—During last weekend, floods, caused by a rush of water from the Halton Reservoir, completely isolated Weston Turville Church, and the residence of Lady Wake. Fortunately. the inconvenience only reached the amusing stage, and although the floods had receded somewhat on Sunday morning, by the same evening the day's downpour had made the tide rise again. Choirboys rode to church, their bicycles well sunk in the waters, and a few ladies, without rubber shoes, might have been seen making an undignified approach, side-stepping, crab-wise, along the fence, precariously balanced over the swirling waters. But in spite of all, a creditable congregation of thirty battled against the elements and attended the Parish Church on Sunday evening." [7]

The Environment Agency 2022 Risk analysis provides includes (together with an interesting map of the areas that would be impacted):-

“If the Weston Turville reservoir were to burst, the nearby village of the same name would suffer as a result of the canal at risk of flooding.

Both the Church End and Brook End areas of the village would be affected”

Despite protests, the canal was closed for commerce and navigation and a stop lock was constructed at Tringford. [1] [4]

For most of its life, the reservoir has been a commercial White Elephant to it’s owner, but a successful resource for recreation and a haven for conservation. [1]


Recreation was probably never considered in the construction of the reservoir. At the time, the reservoir had no gentle slopes for easy entry or exit other than for launching boats. Even today, we don’t see wading birds on the Reservoir.

In it's early life any access, particularly poaching would have been discouraged, even recreation would have been seen as trespass.. Access to the general populis probably didn't occur until the death of Sir John Dashwood (The 4th Baronet) in 1849.

By 1808, there does seem to have been a fishery at the reservoir and Thomas Tyndal was paid retrospectively for “Fishery at the Reservoir” when the Weston Turville Reservoir Fishing Club was established in 1812. [1]

1809 - An announcement was displayed in local papers as far afield as Northampton

“Notice is hereby given, That all Persons who are found FISHING or otherwise TRESPASSING in the RESERVOIR or upon the Banks thereof, at WESTON-TURVILLE, in the County of Buckingham, will be prosecuted as the Law directs. And anyone who will give information of the Name or Names of such Person or Persons so trespassing, and of the Time when such Trespass shall be committed, will be handsomely rewarded for their Trouble, on Application to Mr. Thomas Tyndal, of Aylesbury. May 20th, 1809” [5]

Access to the reservoir for recreation was discouraged by 1934, when The Grand Union Canal Co. erected a sign at the Weston Turville end of the reservoir stating “These lands are private property, there is no public right-of-way.” The Ministry of Transport stated that there is only one right-of-way at the reservoir. This is the path which runs parallel with Halton Lane towards the Perch Bridge end. All other paths were for the use of the Ministry in connection with the upkeep of the reservoir.

Since the reservoir really had no commercial purpose there seems to have been little or no enforcement and the reservoir continued to be used for swimming and fishing by local residents who referred to it as a lido. Though their offices were only in Ruislip, the Inland Waterways Department were probably oblivious to the large population of locals who regularly used the reservoir as a popular community resource.

That all came to an end when the The Inland Waterways Dept. of the Ministry of Transport leased use of the reservoir to Prestwood and District Angling Club instigating major clashes with the local community in 1949 and 1954 at least. The local anglers resented and refused to pay 2s. 6p. a day for access which had been free, bathers and picnickers outnumbered Prestwood and District's Club members in a show of civil disobedience. Clearly there had been no public consultation.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, The Inland Waterways Dept. of the Ministry of Transport at Ruislip told the “Bucks Advertiser” that people had never swum in the reservoir except on odd occasions. It was preserved for fishing.

There would have been times when any use of the reservoir would have been hindered by maintenance such as when the steam pump was installed to top up the canal and in 1956 the reservoir was nearly drained dry to accommodate a major clean-up.




  1. ^ Weston Turville Reservoir by Tessa Taylor.

  2. ^ Field magazine 29 Jan 1853

  3. ^ The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

  4. ^ Weston Turville a History by Hamish Eaton

  5. ^ Northampton Mercury 27 May 1809

  6. ^ Records of Buckinghamshire 1987 Vol 29

  7. ^ Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 19 March 1937

  8. ^

  9. ^ Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 15 Jul 1949

  10. ^ The waterways archive (Canal & River Trust) BW167/26/27/9/7 - Grand Union Canal: Wendover Arm