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A Brief History of Powdermill Reservoir

Originally forming part of the Great Sanders Estate the name is derived from the fact that there was an 18th century Black Powder (gunpowder) manufactory on the site. The mill used to grind the powder was driven by water from a mill pond formed by a dam across the original stream. The mill was the scene of three explosions, before its eventual closure, in which several workers died (one of whom, according to a rather ghoulish contemporary newspaper report, was blown into five, named, pieces). One of the original pair of mill stones may be seen, half buried, at the eastern end of the dam. Prior to its use as a powdermill the site held an iron foundry which predated the attempt by the Spanish Armada to invade Britain.

Under the direction of Sydney Little, "The Concrete King", the reservoir was constructed between 1929 and 1932. Of approximately 56 acres (21 hectares) it holds in the region of 188 million gallons (855 million litres) when full.

= Click for photograph taken during the construction of the dam.

The dam is of earth with a concrete slab facing and a clay puddle core and is 370yds long with a height of 40 ft. The construction of the dam required 170 men working for nearly 40 months and, due to unforeseen difficulties caused by underlying and extruding sandstone strata, the estimated construction costs were exceeded by a considerable margin. A number of the workers employed on the site were of Welsh origin and several married local girls and settled in the area giving rise to a fair proportion of Welsh surnames in the Sedlescombe community.

Filling of the reservoir began on November the fifth 1931 and was complete in March 1932.

Once the reservoir was completed Hastings Corporation (the original owners) were approached for the lease on the fishing rights. A seven year lease was granted to the "Hastings Fly Fisher's Club" for a fee of 5 (five pounds) per annum and the HFFC undertook to stock the waters with two thousand fish per season. Since then the lease (and the number of fish stocked) has risen by a considerable margin.

Copyright Hastings Fly Fishers Club Limited