Duke of Edinburgh opening Grafham Reservoir 50 years ago

• The Duke of Edinburgh visits Grafham Water to celebrate reservoir’s 50th anniversary and open a new facility to secure water supplies for decades to come

• Community and school children kick off a summer of celebration at the water park

• Winning flag designed by Buckden Primary School pupil hoisted by the Duke at the ceremony

It’s 50 years since the Duke of Edinburgh first opened Grafham Reservoir. Today (25 May) His Royal Highness returned to the popular Cambridgeshire water park to mark its special anniversary.

The Duke also officially opened Anglian Water’s state-of-the-art storage reservoir and pumping station next to the existing Grafham Water Treatment Works.

The new £28million facility will store an additional 40million litres of treated water to secure supplies for more than a million homes and businesses in the growing Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes area for decades to come.

On the banks of the reservoir at the Grafham Water Fishing Lodge hundreds of people from the local community, Grafham activity clubs, and Anglian Water employees, gathered for the anniversary celebrations. It was the perfect opportunity to see the pivotal role Grafham Water has played in the community over the past half century.

Water is at the heart of the local community. Grafham has also created hundreds of jobs and training opportunities, provided a hub for recreation and education, and a haven for wildlife. However, it is fundamentally a working environment and vital part of the East of England’s water infrastructure, supplying millions of litres of clean, safe drinking water to millions of customers every day.

Peter Simpson, Anglian Water’s Chief Executive, said: “We were thrilled The Duke of Edinburgh has honoured Grafham Water with a visit – not just once, but on two landmark occasions in the site’s history. And it’s fantastic to see so many of the local community – our neighbours – here to celebrate too. I’d especially like to thank the children from Buckden Primary School who have done such a fantastic job in designing a flag for this very special anniversary.

"Grafham Water was a trailblazing project when it was first conceived in the Sixties. The Duke called it ‘far-sighted’ at that time, and we continue to uphold that forward looking approach today.

“As a region we face the twin challenges of population growth and the impact of climate change. As a company we have responded by building ever more resilient systems and this brand new facility just outside Perry is the latest example of that. As well as providing drinking water to millions, it’s part of a bigger jigsaw providing the essential infrastructure for sustainable growth in this important part of the country, underpinning the regional economy and ensuring this area remains a great place to live and work for generations to come.

“We’re delighted the Duke has recognised this milestone with us.”

The Duke, accompanied by Peter Simpson, joined members of the local community and schoolchildren at the Fishing Lodge on the banks of the reservoir to launch a summer of celebratory events and activities.

The Duke raised a new commemorative flag with the help of the winning designer eight year old Louis De Pina from Buckden Primary School. The flag will fly for the duration of the summer celebrations.

The raising of the flag launched a flotilla of boats and watercraft on the water in recognition of the Duke’s role as patron of the Grafham Water Sailing Club.

A time capsule was also on display containing a letter, from the Duke, to future generations, original photos from the 1966 opening, a collage about the future of water from pupils of Buckden Primary School, as well as other memorabilia from the past 50 years and Grafham Water’s various supporters. The time capsule will be planted in the grassed bank later in the summer.

During the visit the Duke met with various representatives from the local community and leisure clubs based at the reservoir. He also heard about the long-standing and successful partnership between Anglian Water and the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust which has led to some fantastic conservation work at the reservoir’s nature reserve – one of the reasons Anglian Water earned the 2015 Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development.