Powys Digital History Project

The Elan Valley dams
The "Navvies Village"

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

A "model village" for the workers
As the new dams and reservoirs were being built in such a remote location, it was necessary to construct a temporary "navvies village" to house the large number of workmen employed on the project and, in many cases, their wives and children as well. A Birmingham Corporation official remarked that "the settlement designed by the Committee may be regarded as a model village, and should serve as an example to other public bodies."

The small market town of Rhayader could not accommodate many of them, and it was, in any case, some eight or nine miles from the remotest parts of the huge site. The location chosen for the "model village" of accommodation huts, accident hospital, public hall, school, shop and other facilities was on the bank of the River Elan below the site of the lowest of the dams at Caban Coch.

Accommodation huts
in Elan Village
during the building
of the dams

By kind permission of
Radnorshire Museum,
Llandrindod Wells

Street in Elan VillageThe new village was purposely sited on the opposite side of the river to the road from Rhayader, so that access to the village could be strictly controlled. No outsiders were allowed to enter the village without permission.

The Water Committee of Birmingham Corporation was justifiably proud of the very high standards of the provisions made for its workers on the waterworks scheme, which were very much better than those for most other major civil engineering projects of the time. In return for this commendable treatment of its employees, the Corporation not unreasonably insisted upon high standards of work and behaviour from all who were employed on the project, and from all who were permitted to stay in the village.

There are 7 pages on Elan Village. Use the box links below to view the other pages. 

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