Powys Digital History Project

The Claerwen dam 2
Concrete dressed as stone

 Claerwen dam,
March 2000
(far right)

County Archives

The largest of the dams
It is a measure of its size that the Claerwen dam was to create a reservoir which holds almost as much water as the combined total of the three earlier damsClaerwen dam in 2000 built in the neighbouring Elan Valley. The new dam is 184 ft (56 m) high and 1167 ft (355 m) long.
The Claerwen dam was designed to be in keeping with the appearance of the much older structures nearby. Although built in concrete, the huge dam was faced with dressed stone at considerable extra cost in materials and labour. By the late 1940’s it was necessary to employ over a hundred skilled stonemasons from Italy because most skilled British workers were employed on restoration work on the Houses of Parliament in London at the time.
The Claerwen
in full spate
Dam in full flow,1999Unlike the much earlier dams in the Elan Valley, which needed an extensive network of railway lines to carry materials to the dam sites, the Claerwen used road transport only. Most of the building supplies were brought from the railway at Rhayader, because the tracks built for the construction of the first dams had long since been dismantled.

Queen Elizabeth
the opening
of the Claerwen dam
in 1952
(far right)

Photograph by
kind permission of
Radnorshire Museum,
Llandrindod Wells

The construction of the Claerwen dam, the last of the dams in the The Queen at dam opening,1952district, took six years, using a workforce of 470. The improved techniques and mechanisation of large-scale civil engineering projects meant that large numbers of manual workers were no longer needed.

The Claerwen dam was ceremonially declared open by the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth (right) in October 1952, in one of the first official engagements of her reign.

This is the second page of the two pages on the Claerwen dam.

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