Arnfield Treatment Works

This is perhaps the most visually dynamic of Besant-Roberts’ buildings. Nestled at the foot of Woodhead Pass, adjacent to the A57, it is one of those utilitarian buildings that is so markedly contrasting to the vernacular, that it acts, principally, as a landmark for motorists travelling between Manchester and Sheffield. The ‘lazy Z’ profile of the roofscape seems to somehow acknowledge the vale within which it sits and the precisely engineered landscape of the water treatment and collection process; the banks of the reservoir opposite are similarly geometric. The buildings house plant and equipment for treating water from the Longendale catchment area, a natural valley that has been utilised for this purpose since Victorian times. Further up the valley, the earlier structures can be seen. Very specific spaces were designed to hold and handle lime and other chemicals. Provisions were also made for laboratory, offices and staff accommodation.