History of the Dam

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History of the Dam


The Dam was designed by John Rennie and construction started in 1797 with Hugh Henshall as resident engineer.   Shortly after the Dam was completed, cracks were found at its ends necessitating the Dam to be extended with wings at each end to reinforce the structure.  The Dam incorporates a ‘spillway’ which determines the maximum level of the water in the lake; when in use it provides a spectacular waterfall.  The flow of water to the Caldon canal is controlled by valves in the two housings at the west end of the dam.

In the early 1900’s, the Dam was raised and a landing stage added for the boating business run at the time by George Heath.  A dance floor was built on the Dam in 1907, complete with a shelter and bandstand.  There were stalls selling souvenirs, fancy goods and refreshments for the increasing numbers of visitors attracted to the Lake.  These numbers peaked in the 1920’s and 30s with trippers not only from the Potteries but as far away as Lancashire and Blackpool arriving by coach and railway and, increasingly, by car.  The Dam area was the natural first attraction for these visitors with ice cream stalls particularly popular as was the dance floor at summer weekends.  In the colder winters of that time, the lake froze over with many skaters taking to the ice at the Dam head.

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