THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Men work night and day to repair the damage to ruptured water pipe

From the Belfast News Letter, June 7, 1937

Sunday, 7th June 2020, 10:00 am
Belfast Water Commissioner's Building, Belfast
Belfast Water Commissioner's Building, Belfast

Thousands of houses in Belfast had been left without water the previous day as a result of a 36-inch main pipe rupturing near the Ormeau Road tram terminus, reported the News Letter on this day in 1937.

The Knock, Belmont, Dundonald, Cregagh and Breda districts, and certain parts of the Ormeau and Ravenhill roads were left without water supplies as a result of the incident. The piped burst at roughly 3am on June 6 in front of the entrance to Galwally House.

The water tore a rent 10 feet long and two feet wide in the one-and-a-half inch thick cast iron pipe.

The pipe lay 10 feet below the surface of the road but the enormous pressure soon forced the water up through the clay and stones.

The water having reached the surface, made an enormous hole in the road, washing tons of red, sandy soil down the incline to Rosetta, a quarter of a mile away.

A policeman who saw the rushing torrent of muddy water raised the alarm with some of the Water Commissioners’ employees who had been making alterations to a valve on the Ravenhill Road.

They left their work, and with great difficulty approached the burst, but were unable to do anything until the water was turned off half-an-hour later.

Meanwhile, the many gardens and side thoroughfares were left been flooded and the water rushed along Galwally Avenue before finally reaching Galwally Lake.

The burst pipe carried a supply from Knockbracken Reservoir and when the water was turned off it affected houses over a large area in the higher levels.

Many householders found on waking up the following morning that the main tap would not yield the usual supply, and, not knowing the seriousness of the position, many persons soon used up the water in the cisterns.

The News Letter noted that the result was that by dinner time there was: “Water, water everywhere/Nor any drop to drink.”

Despite an emergency repair gang being hurried to the spot and the despite the fact that the men had worked throughout the day and the night it was unlikely that water supplies would be restored until later on the evening of June 7.