Powys Digital History Project

The Elan Valley dams
Eustace Tickell - Engineer and artist

The location of
the Elan Valley dams
and reservoirs
is shown on the
sketch map.  

Doomed to destructionEustace Tickell
Eustace Tickell was the civil engineer who supervised the construction of the Pen-y-Garreg dam under George Yourdi. The photograph (right) shows him on site during the later stages of the project.

He was also a very capable artist and writer, and in 1894 he wrote and illustrated a fascinating limited edition book about the area which was about to be changed for ever.
Just 200 copies of a volume called "The Vale of Nantgwilt - A Submerged Valley" were published.

Elan River
seen from the bridge
below Cwm Elan.
Drawn by
Eustace Tickell
in 1893

County Archives

Elan River by Tickell,1893 His reason for doing so was
"to commemorate scenes in one of the most charming valleys in Great Britain. Scenes which are soon to be lost for ever, submerged beneath the waters.."
"Beautiful lakes they will doubtless be....but their construction dooms many a picturesque and interesting spot to destruction, and it would indeed be a pity if they should be allowed to pass away without some record, however inadequate."

Eustace Tickell was being unduly modest about his contribution. Today, his delightful illustrations, pen and ink drawings made in the field from which copper-plate etchings were later prepared for reproduction in his book, provide a far from inadequate record of the attractiveness of the lost valleys.

  He sketched the simple little ivy-covered church of Nantgwyllt, as shown on another page, and noted that:
"The little chapel will also have to be destroyed and submerged 90 feet deep. The Baptist chapel, with a burial ground, the school house, and twenty farmsteads will all be engulfed to supply the thirst of Birmingham". 
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