Keys to the Past

Local History

Tunstall Reservoir (County Durham)

Tunstall Reservoir, near Wolsingham, was built in 1879 to supply industry in the growing towns of Shildon, Spennymoor and Willington.

There are a number of remains of early periods of history still surrounding the lake. Particularly important are the extensive remains of medieval iron working. Traces of a bloomery where iron ore was smelted can still be seen at Tunstall. There is a large slag heap which can still be seen. It is close to a number of charcoal platforms and charcoal pits] at Backstone Bank Wood This is a an area of ancient woodland with a long history of coppice management. It contains at least twelve charcoal platforms. The wood is likely to have been part of one of the 'springs' or coppice woods in the Bishop of Durham's Park at Wolsingham, which supplied wood for lead and iron smelting.

Tunstall Reservoir and is now a nature reserve. It supports a small number of breeding great crested grebe, tufted duck, goosander, moorhen, coot, mallard and common sandpiper. Oystercatcher, redshank and lapwing sometimes roost on the dam. The Reservoir provides a regular winter roost venue for black-headed gulls and a maximum of 850 birds has been recorded. Ospreys have been recorded on a number of occasions and cormorants are regularly present in the winter. The muddy margins of the Reservoir provide a habitat for the rare thread rush, which is typically found on the margins of lakes that have a fluctuating water level. Other marginal vegetation includes amphibious bistort and water horsetail. Common butterflies that occur in the grasslands around Tunstall include small skipper, large skipper, large white, small white, green-veined white, small copper, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma, meadow brown and small heath.

Reference number:D6898

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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.