Old archive photos of Prince Philip in Hunts in 1966
- Credit: ANGLIAN WATER
In July, 1966, a trailblazing project to build a reservoir at Grafham, that would supply 40 million litres of water to homes in the East Anglian region, was opened by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke later became patron of the Grafham Water Sailing Club.
The plans for Grafham Water were conceived in the 1960s and later the Duke described the project as "far-sighted". The innovative project also marked a huge step forward for the industry as it planned to use the reservoir for recreation as well.
In July 1966, 2,400 acres of farmland at Grafham were flooded to supply water to thousands of new homes in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Without Grafham Water, Milton Keynes could not have been built.
In 1966, the Duke carried out the official opening duties, but he returned in 2016 and during this visit, he took the time to speak with representatives from the organisations and clubs based at the reservoir.
Teenagers from the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme showcased their fire-making skills.
Members of the Grafham Water Sailing Club were also there to meet the Duke and there were three generations of the Saxton family - one of whom, 90-year-old Kenneth Saxton, was chief engineer on the Grafham Water project in the 1960s and met the Duke at the official opening in 1966.
Peter Simpson, chief executive of Anglian Water, said, “On behalf of Anglian Water, we extend our condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the family and friends of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
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“I would like to pay particular tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh’s passionate advocacy for environmental and community causes, concerns which are close to our hearts here at Anglian Water, too. Our aim is to bring environmental and social prosperity to the region we serve, and I believe that is a mission we shared with His Royal Highness."
The Duke returned to Grafham Water in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening.
Mr Simpson added: "It was particularly appropriate as he had originally opened the site in 1966, when the reservoir was constructed. It was a pleasure to welcome him back, and I recall the community greeted him very warmly."