The remains of the Nant-y-Gro dam – Past Squares 11

Staying away from Sicily and anything Roman, for that matter….. (and the main image at the bottom of his post IS square)

About 33 years ago, I was in the Elan valley in mid Wales with my parents, and my father told me there was an old ruined dam that had been used by the Dambusters in practice runs before the Ruhr raids. As we were near the Caban Coch dam we could do a walk to the site. He knew I would be interested, so off we went.

In the early stages of the construction of dams and reservoirs in the Elan Valley, a small masonry dam was built across the Nant-y-Gro stream about 0.5 miles upstream from the Caban Coch dam site. This small dam created a million gallon reservoir on the rocky slopes above Caban Coch which was used to provide a temporary water supply for the navvies building the main Elan valley reservoirs and dams. Once the main reservoirs were completed, Nant-y-Gro was no longer needed.

The dam, however, was still intact at the time of the war when the government requested the use of the 35 feet high dam for secret experiments under the direction of Barnes Wallis. The advantage of the use of the Elan Valley site was its remoteness, ensuring top secret trials could be carried out without fear of being observed.

So there we were, viewing a small piece of history that had been part of the DamBusters run up to their 1943 raids on the German dams.

I wonder how easy it is to find now, three decades later…..(but as it is a listed site, and a lesser tourist draw for WW2 buffs perhaps it is)

Moving up the Elan Valley

linked to PastSquares at Beckys here



  1. Lovely series. Thanks for the back story Sue.

  2. Interesting … and worth a visit, if only a Virtual Visit at the moment.

  3. great piece of history, and you made me giggle with the square message!

  4. Very interesting to have explored that site. The legend of the Dambusters lives on!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. Really very fascinating.

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