The Elan Valley dams
|Worth a good salary
James Mansergh, the creator of the remarkable dams project, requested the appointment of "one principal resident engineer to supervise the whole of the works in the Elan Valley". He spoke very highly of George Nicholas Yourdi, who had worked for him on other major civil engineering projects. "This gentleman" he said "..has had fourteen years continuous experience of reservoir construction and will require, and is worth, a good salary".
Yourdi was duly appointed in June 1893, and it is clear from the records of the project that he deserved much credit for the successful outcome of the waterworks scheme.
George Yourdi was an interesting character of striking appearance, with dark hair, bushy eyebrows, and a very large moustache. His father was a Greek consul in Cork, Ireland, and his mother was Irish.
He was a bachelor who was wedded to his chosen occupation. A highly skilled engineer, he was also a very hard worker who demanded very high standards from his workers. It seems that he was always to be found somewhere on the huge construction site and was very reluctant to take a break during the long period of construction.
It was said of him that "..his previous experience has been very considerable, and his talents in devising special machinery to meet engineering difficulties is only equalled by his ability in other directions".
|Yourdi drew up most of the very detailed rules
and regulations governing the behaviour of the residents of the
navvies village. Although a strict
disciplinarian, he seems to have been highly respected by all
who worked with him.
During the construction of the dams, he lived in the old manor house of Nantgwyllt, which was briefly a residence of the poet Shelley. The house was later demolished and the site lost beneath the waters of Caban Coch reservoir.