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Repair work completed at historic Conwy reservoir

06 Aug 2023 2 minute read
The Pen y Gwaith Reservoir in Gwydyr Forest

Repair work has concluded at a historic Conwy reservoir which was used to power machinery at two lead mines in the 19th century.

The work carried out by Natural Resources Wales (NRW)at the Pen y Gwaith Reservoir in Gwydyr Forest included strengthening embankments, building a new overflow structure and installing a gated outlet to enable the reservoir to be drained in an emergency.

The work at the reservoir, which holds 12,500 cubic metres of water or the equivalent of five Olympic-size swimming pools, allowed the structure to remain in place while reducing flood risk and maintaining a water supply for nearby properties.

The reservoir, built in 1850, supplied water to the nearby High Hafna and Pen y Gwaith lead mines to turn giant waterwheels which powered machinery before the advent of coal, electric and diesel-powered engines.

The machines drained the mines and crushed the rock which contained the lead.

As well as repair work, a picnic bench has been installed overlooking the water along with an interpretive panel explaining the history of the site while improvements have been made to the forest walking trail that runs across the site.

Industrial archaeology

Dylan Williams, NRW’s North West Wales Operations Manager for Land and Assets, said: “This work has helped ensure a piece of Wales’s industrial archaeology is safely retained for future generations and also forms part of our wider work to ensure Wales is resilient to the impacts of climate change.

“These works have also safeguarded an important ecological habitat as the reservoir is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“We have been able to provide additional benefits for visitors with a picnic bench, improved walking trails and an information panel to help them enjoy their visit.”

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