Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Llanfyllin and district
Lake Vyrnwy
  When Victorians changed the Powys landscape  

Lake Vyrnwy is a beautiful stretch of water which was created by Victorian engineers when they built a huge masonry dam across the river valley in the north of Montgomeryshire. Completed in 1889, it was the first large stone-built dam in Britain. Earlier dams had just been created by making earth embankments.

The newly
dam at
Lake Vyrnwy
in 1889
Engraving of Lake Vyrnwy

Lake Vyrnwy was needed to provide a storage reservoir of safe water for the rapidly growing city of Liverpool. Many cities in Britain were becoming crowded with workers for the new factories and mills of the Industrial Revolution. Terrible slums grew around these factories, and clean water was desperately needed to reduce the dangers of disease. The factories too needed large quantities of water for their steam-driven machines.
The same problems were shared by Birmingham, which was to start work on an even more impressive system of dams in the Elan Valley a few years later. You can see more about these dams in the Rhayader section of this website, or just click here.
The new lake meant that the farms and houses of the people of the valley would be lost underwater...

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