Turn of the screw is village’s big TV show

Millions of television viewers saw Whalley take a giant leap into a new age of water power this week.

The 40ft Archimedes screw arrives at Whalley Weir.
The 40ft Archimedes screw arrives at Whalley Weir.

It was the biggest free show around as fascinated villagers watched contractors lower a huge steel Archimedean screw into a concrete trough, where it will spin to generate hydro-electricity using the power of the River Calder.

A low-loader lorry crept through the village on Monday to deliver the 13-tonne screw – 12 metres long and 3.6 metres wide – then on Tuesday morning eased down a farm track to the site on the Billington side of the weir to be lowered into place in just six minutes.

“It’s a very important milestone in the project, and it’s all gone extremely well,” said Chris Gathercole, a director of Whalley Hydro.

The 40ft Archimedes screw arrives at Whalley Weir.

BBC and Granada camera crews plus local photographers recorded the operation while people watched from the Calder bridge and a nearby footpath.

The project combines modern technology with ancient engineering; the weir built by Whalley Abbey’s monks 600 years ago and the screw device for raising water, credited to Archimedes, from at least three centuries BC.

When the £750,000 project is handed over to Whalley Community Hydro Ltd in 
mid-November, it will produce power for 100 homes, to be fed into the National Grid and earn money for shareholders and community schemes.

The generating station will not be open to casual visitors, but school parties will be able to organise visits.