Toddbrook Dam Collapse, Whaley Bridge, UK

Mick West

Staff member


Reminiscent of the Orville spillway, but this time the spillway is on the face of the (much smaller) dam, so continued erosion could lead to a total collapse.

Metabunk 2019-08-01 06-57-42.jpg

This is in the North of England, where I'm from, small towns and villages in narrow valleys. The town of Whaley Bridge, directly under the reservoir, is currently being evacuated.

Metabunk 2019-08-01 07-01-46.jpg


Senior Member.
cant they just throw some sandbags over the bad area to divert the water to the ok side?

edit add... I see, it isn't the spillway hole that's the problem so much, its the river set up down stream is breaking apart. (not seen in this photo, just included to give perspective)

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Mick West

Staff member
They are filling the hole with bags of aggregate (sand and gravel)


They are also draining and pumping out as much as they can, as well as blocking the inlets to the reservoir - which I presume can only be a temporary measure to slow the inflow while they shore it up, as there does not seem to be a way of diverting the water around the dam.

Nice weather though!
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Senior Member.
I meant like this guy is doing.. (but once I saw how fast the water sometimes comes down I thought I was being silly, guess not. hope it all works!)



Senior Member.
2016 Footage of the auxillary spillway shows it was poorly maintained:

Wow! that's pretty bad. I didn't even realize originally how 'thin' the berm was at the top, used to looking at Orville I guess.

Read this morning, they have 35% of the water out of the reservoir and are going to do a total rebuild.


Senior Member.
2016 Footage of the auxillary spillway shows it was poorly maintained:

And it is only 50 years old. Added to the dam in 1969 when the existing spillway capacity was deemed inadequate
Metabunk 2019-08-05 05-26-52.jpg

Reading through Toddbrook's Wiki page it seems that it has always had problems and may not even have been built to the original specifications
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Mick West

Staff member
A better scan of the above link:
Binnie, G. (1974). The Evolution of British Dams. Transactions of the Newcomen Society, 47(1), 207–224. doi:10.1179/tns.1974.015

Fig. 13. Todd Brook Dam 1968. Photo by courtesy of the North West Water Authority
Metabunk 2019-08-05 05-39-57.jpg

Fig. 14. Todd Brook Dam Main Spillway.
Metabunk 2019-08-05 05-41-51.jpg

Fig. 15. Todd Brook Dam 1978, with auxiliary Spillway.
Metabunk 2019-08-05 05-38-01.jpg

Plants were growing out of it in 1976! Still, if it was not there, the dam probably would have failed.

Gary McH-P

Badly maintained!! A small tree growing and plant-shrub roots are not exactly helpful in the gaps between the concrete sections. Over time they will crack and break up the sections, severely weakening it. Which is what has happened to that section that has been undermined, collapsed and washed away. Amazingly it passed its last inspection! .

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