Covered Reservoir


 An aerial view of the Covered Reservoir

The covered reservoir was built in 1845 and is located near the tennis courts on the park’s west side, hidden by a ring of trees.

Since Tudor times, a system of underground conduits (channels for conveying water) and reservoirs had supplied water from springs in the park to buildings in Greenwich.  However, demand for water began to increase in the early nineteenth century as the Royal Hospital and Deptford Dockyard required an increased and improved supply.

The Admiralty began the search for a site for the new reservoir in 1830, proposing various locations on Blackheath. However, nearby residents, including HRH Princess Sophia Matilda in the Ranger’s House, raised objections to what would have been a large, open stretch of water close to their houses. Plans were revived in 1843, and similar objections were raised. By 1844, the Admiralty began to look for a site in the park, where they held legal rights to use the water to supply the hospital.

The location they chose was close to the Croom’s Hill Gate, but when residents found out about the plans, there was an outcry as this would have meant encroaching on the site of the Anglo-Saxon Barrows. A public campaign was launched against the proposal, possibly one of the earliest protests to stop the destruction of an ancient monument. Despite the objections, initial construction work was allowed to start in June 1844, destroying about 12 barrows. Fortunately, an agreement was soon reached to stop the work and prevent further damage.

By July 1845, the current site was finally agreed upon, and the reservoir was completed in early 1846. It was an open reservoir until 1871 when legislation required that it be covered. By 1891, the Admiralty had stopped using the reservoir to supply water to its buildings.

Originally covered with turf, the top and slopes of the brick dome now provide a valuable biodiverse grassland habitat.