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Silent Valley restoration work pays homage to reservoir engineers

By Staff Reporter ·

Video: Historic property reopened to celebrate Silent Valley heritage

It is one of the houses which once accommodated the engineers who built the Silent Valley reservoir - and now it's been refurbished and reopened.

The reservoir - which supplies safe, clean, drinking water to a fifth of the homes in Belfast and Co Down - was the scenic backdrop for a special celebration of Watertown House.

In the 1920s, while the Silent Valley reservoir was built, Watertown sprang up to accommodate the many engineers and labourers who were involved in building the vital water source.

However, when the reservoir was completed in 1933, the houses in Watertown fell empty and a number were sold.

Heritage Lottery Fund funding has now allowed the relocation and restoration of one of the original houses.

Chairman of Newry, Mourne & Down District Council Mark Murnin said: "This grade B listed building was kindly donated by the Haugh family and dates back to 1923, when the temporary settlement of 'Watertown' was established at the Silent Valley.

"At its peak, there were almost 2,000 workers on site, with approximately one-third of these living in Watertown."

John Haugh's grandmother, Mary Cunningham, lived in the house for half a decade before her passing in 2010.

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The opening of Ben Crom dam in 1959

Mr Haugh said: "I am looking forward to the Watertown house being officially opened to the public as it is an important part of our local heritage and history."

Meanwhile, you can watch extraordinary footage on the Belfast Telegraph website of the two-year restoration project of the Mourne Wall which is under way in Co Down.

Watch the footage at www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Video: Helicopter view of Mourne wall restoration
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The opening of Ben Crom dam in 1959
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NI Water chief executive Sara Venning presents Christopher, John, Lynn and Tom Haugh with a painting of Watertown House