Fountains Abbey Internal Culvert Inspections


Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal is classified as a World Heritage Site in North Yorkshire.  The abbey was originally established by monks in 1132, which they operated for just over 400 years. It became one of the wealthiest monasteries in England until its dissolution in 1539 under the order of Henry VIII.

The water garden at Studley Royal was created by John Aislabie in 1718 and was expanded by his son, William when he purchased the adjacent Fountains Estate. The water gardens consist of lakes, canals, temples and cascades. One of the ponds in the water garden, known as Half Moon Pond, has several culverts carrying water from Half Moon Pond, into a network of canals.

We were commissioned by the National Trust to carry out internal inspections of three of these culverts and to report on the structural integrity, recording the location of any defects and recommending remedial work.


Our in-house, confined space trained, asset inspection team was mobilised by Craig Lucas.  The height and width restrictions of the culverts allowed the team to walk through some sections but at times needed them to crawl on their hands and knees in others.

Inspections included measuring chainages (the distance along the culvert), providing a detailed description of any defects or damage and taking reference photographs of each defect. All the survey information recorded on site was uploaded to our GISmapp website and recorded on an iPad. This allowed the team to georeference the asset location and defect details with chainages and attach pictures to sections of interest.


It is vital that the culverts are functioning properly to maintain the flow through the water gardens as originally designed and to prevent the Half Moon Pond from over topping and flooding the surrounding gardens and walkways. The regular inspections are carried out to highlight any issues that need addressing to ensure the culverts are performing as they should.

Failure of any one of the structures would require the National Trust to close the grounds and would lose important revenue generated by visitors. This could create an emergency repair situation that would come at a high price to repair any damage caused by overtopping water from Half Moon Pond.

As the culverts are around 300 years old it requires any defects to be addressed urgently to prevent any damage causing further issues. Regular inspections and maintenance ensure the National Trust can keep on top of historic structures and enable them to be viewed by the public all year round.

Want to know more?

Email Craig Lucas for more information on internal culvert inspections. You can also find out more about our work in this area on our asset management web pages.

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