The story of the drowned village of Powys which refuses to be forgotten



THE past is never far away in the Vyrnwy valley.

Indeed, the very landscape, beautiful as it is, was shaped by the hand of man during the Victorian era to supply Liverpool’s water needs.

The Great Lake Vyrnwy Reservoir was created in 1888 by flooding the head of the Vyrnwy River valley – completing a nine-year project that saw the village of Llanwddyn submerged – and completing the UK’s first large stone dam .

The dam cost £ 620,000, but the cost was also cultural and historical.

The village of Llanwddyn and its inhabitants were never consulted about the drowning of their beloved valley and despite their opposition to the plan, the project was implemented.

The old village of Llanwddyn. Image: Powys Digital History.

Their move involved the demolition of a church, two chapels, three inns, ten farms and 37 houses, with their old houses submerged under 84 feet of water and covering the equivalent of about 600 football fields.

On February 23, 1889, when the lake had partially filled with water, the Illustrated London News published a long article on Lake Vyrnwy and the project proclaimed it “one of the greatest works of modern times”.

A new settlement to house them has been built further down the valley by the Liverpool Corporation.

County Times: The old village of Llanwddyn.  Image: Powys Digital History.

The old village of Llanwddyn. Image: Powys Digital History.

Even the remains of the bodies of the chapel cemeteries were removed before the flood and re-buried in the new church cemetery.

Eunant Hall, a large house and estate owned by a member of the local nobility, Sir Edmund Buckley, was also lost underwater.

Along with all the other buildings behind the dam, this was also demolished, although no new halls were built and instead a tree was planted at the site which will soon be submerged.

County Hours: Eunant Hall.  Image: Powys Digital History.

Eunant room. Image: Powys Digital History.

However, the legacy of the past community, long lost in the depths, remains through its 311 streams, waterfalls and feeding rivers.

Afon Hirddu, Eunant, Afon Naedroedd, Afon Cedig and Afon Y Dolau Gwynionew while Afon Eiddew includes Pistyll Rhyd-y-meincau, commonly referred to as Rhiwargor waterfall.

However, the old village of Llanwddyn has never been completely forgotten.

County Hours: Eunant Hall.  Photo: RSPB Lac Vyrnwy.

Eunant room. Photo: RSPB Lac Vyrnwy.

Whenever the water levels drop to a certain level, the never-to-forget village skeletons can be seen.

Recently, tourists and locals alike got a chance to see the remains of Eunant Hall – the grand abode of the Vyrnwy Valley – which was never rebuilt by Victorian architects and engineers whose legacy is still present.


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