Rutland Water history exhibition

Well I was a teenager, I’d just
learnt to drive it was all new but it was it was something I’d
grown up with we’d always known that it was going to happen it just took a long
time to build the dam, it took a long time to
fill the reservoir but it was extraordinary watching it all happen, I
remember driving around and you could watch you could see the water gradually
filling up but it was very slow so one week you drive and it would be down in
the valley and then the next week you drive along that country lane and it
would be lapping at the edges of the roads and you think ‘oh I won’t be
able to do this again’ and then the next time you go down that same lane you just
have to turn round because it was all flooded it was extraordinary – So I
arrived back in 1975 in April a bit green having never even thought
about the size of the project and the scope ahead of me realising
of course this was just a massive task something that has never been done on
the scale in terms of the conservation creation anywhere probably almost
globally – Coming back now 40 years later obviously it all looks fantastic and it
brings millions of pounds to the local economy and I think most people really
appreciate what they’ve got here you know Rutland is a beautiful unique
county and it has a beautiful unique water feature in the middle of it but at
the time it was very hard it was 1/10 of the county and of course Rutland was
about to be absorbed into Leicestershire in the name abolished which was why it
was so important to run the campaign to call the reservoir Rutland Water
rather than Empingham reservoir which is what it had already been called I
think because that’s where they built dam but you can’t actually see Rutland Water from Empingham So it was very much formulating ideas starting up a volunteer group because obviously I had
no staff here with me I was very much a one-man band than the dog and a tractor
I planted about a hundred thousand trees in the first three years and so you know
I have this amazing memory of just putting my whole life and passion into
this amazing project and you know hopefully as a result you know we’ve now
got a site of SSSI we’ve got the Ramsar site and we’ve
got the Special Protection Area so you know it’s been a lifetime of love of
Rutland Water but particularly the wildlife It’s been both an emotional and but
an extremely positive experience and it’s been wonderful to meet all these
people the thing is there are lots and lots of documents there’s
documentary evidence of what life used to be like but there’s
absolutely nothing like sitting across a table from someone who can remember
exactly what it was like 50 years ago and they tell you their living history
but you get people’s thoughts and feelings and opinions and memories and
in their own words and that’s extremely powerful and it needs
capturing because none of us are getting any younger

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