Abbeystead Village Hall
Abbeystead shown within Lancashire
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||Over Wyresdale|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
|UK Parliament||Lancaster & Wyre|
Abbeystead is a small, picturesque village located in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Lancashire, England. Abbeystead lies close to the Trough of Bowland but even in medieval times, was considered part of Wyresdale rather than within the domain of that powerful local magnate, the Lord of Bowland, so-called Lord of the Fells.
The name is derived from "The site of the Abbey" and relates to the short-lived presence of a house of Cistercian monks in the reign of Henry II. The traditional site of the monks' house is just below the junction of the Marshaw Wyre and the Tarnbrook Wyre, on the north side of the reservoir.
There are a number of notable buildings in the Abbeystead area: Cawthorne's Endowed School, rebuilt in the 19th century; Holme Farm opposite, also 19th century; and Abbeystead House, built in 1886 for the 4th Earl of Sefton. Records trace the chapel to the west of Abbeystead back to the 14th century. The church was rebuilt in 1733, with a spire and new chancel added during restoration in 1894.
The Abbeystead Reservoir was built in 1855 by Lancaster Corporation to supply mills lower down the River Wyre in the dry season. Although the reservoir is no longer in service it still features an attractive curved overflow weir visible from the footpath.
On 23 May 1984, 44 people were attending a presentation at a valve house at the outfall end of the Lune/Wyre Transfer Scheme in Abbeystead intended to explain the effects of the scheme on winter flooding in the lower Wyre Valley. During the presentation, water was pumped over the weir designed to regulate the flow of water into the River Wyre. When the pumping commenced, however, there was a bright flash followed by an explosion that killed 16 visitors, injured 22 more and severely damaged the valve house.
Compensation claims totalling up to £4 million (by those involved and North-West Water) have resulted against the firm of consulting engineers, Binnie and Partners (now Black & Veatch), who designed and supervised the construction of the pumping station into which naturally occurring methane gas had migrated.
The gas had built up in the valve house, seeping in from the Wyresdale tunnel. An unidentified source ignited the gas and caused the explosion. The source of ignition could have been an electrical fault, but it was suggested that a visitor may have tried to light a cigarette, since smoking was permitted in the valve house.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2010)|
- Forest of Bowland official website
- The Abbeystead Explosion. A report of the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the explosion on 23 May 1984 at the valve house of the Lune/Wyre Water Transfer Scheme at Abbeystead, Health and Safety Executive, 1985: 
There is an account of the explosion, the medical response, and a report on interviews with survivors at http://www.medbc.com/annals/review/vol_10/num_3/text/vol10n3p171.htm
Media related to Abbeystead at Wikimedia Commons