- Written by Ben
During a recent expedition in Snowdonia a group from Warwick school spent a night wild camping near Lynn Eigiau in the Carneddau.
One of the school staff had produced a fact sheet on the Eigiau dam disaster of 1925, when the reservoir dam breached resulting in several deaths. The dam is still in place today (providing a nice windbreak for the campsite) and the breach can clearly be seen.
I've thought for a while that 'disasters' makes a good theme for outdoor education - the British countryside is full of the sites of plane crashes, industrial disasters and of course mountaineering deaths. In this case it was the breach of a reservoir dam resulting in the loss of 17 lives. There is of course a risk of appearing heartless or macabre when dwelling on these disasters, but there is equally the potential not only for increased awareness and thought but also for igniting genuine interest in the wider historical, geographical and political contexts of these events as well as in the mountains themselves.
The Eigiau dam was built in 1911 by the Aluminium Corporation to provide water for a power station, to power the aluminium works at the nearby village of Dolgarrog. Its construction was the cause of controversy over allegations of corner cutting by a contractor and today the dam can be seen to have been inadequately constructed. In 1925 following several days of heavy rain the dam failed releasing huge quantities of water down the valley to Coedty reservoir, the dam of which then also failed releasing the flood water into Dolgarrog and resulting in 17 deaths. It is thought that the death toll could have been even higher had not many of the villagers been in the local cinema. In 2004 a memorial walk was opened by the last survivor of the disaster, Fred Brown, who had lost family members in the flood.
The breach in the dam wall at Lynn Eigiau