Llyn Celyn

Straining tower, Llyn Celyn reservoir, with Arenig Fach behind


11 August 2012

Tryweryn valley

SH 87810 40036; 52.94593°N, 3.67110°W


In 1956 — in an era before Wales had any high-level representation in Westminster — Liverpool City Council sponsored a private bill enabling the construction of a dam to flood the Tryweryn valley and create a reservoir to supply water for its city. Despite fierce opposition in Wales — none of the 36 Welsh MPs supported the legislation — the bill was passed the following year and the resulting act of Parliament bypassed any requirement for planning permission to be sought from Welsh authorities.

In the face of a long-running and bitter campaign against the reservoir, with more radical elements even resorting to bombing the construction site, the building project commenced in 1960 and was completed with the flooding of the valley in 1965. The village of Capel Celyn was destroyed in the process: its inhabitants together with those of 12 neighbouring farms were evicted under compulsory purchase orders and their homes demolished. Trees in the valley were felled and the village cemetery was concreted over before ultimately being lost forever below the waters of the new lake.

Outrage over the whole affair led to a rise in the popularity of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, and also placed the question of devolution on the political agenda. In 2005, Liverpool City Council publically apologised for insensitivity in the matter at the time.

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Release of water from the reservoir into the Afon Tryweryn helps to regulate the flow of the River Dee, of which the former is a tributary. Water to supply Liverpool is then taken from the Dee further downstream.

The water released from Llyn Celyn drives a 4 MW hydro-electric plant before passing into a stilling basin prior to its descent through the narrow valley of the Afon Tryweryn — a passage taken advantage of for international-level white-water-canoeing activities. The Canolfan Tryweryn (National White Water Centre) is nearby, and special releases of water from the reservoir are arranged for specific events.

Llyn Celyn (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales);
Llyn Celyn (Wikipedia);
Canolfan Tryweryn (National White Water Centre)