The charity making life better by water

Restoring Toddbrook Reservoir

We are currently working on a major project to restore Toddbrook Reservoir after the dam auxiliary spillway was damaged in August 2019 after a period of intense rainfall.

Picture of water in a reservoir

Update 29 January 2024

Future works programme

Early in the new year we are taking stock of the progress made in 2023 and the works which are set to continue throughout 2024. Most of the piling work has now been completed, which enables Kier to move onto the next phase in the construction programme to install the spillway structure, mainly with the use of reinforced concrete. Once constructed, the exterior of the turrets at the end of the stilling basin will be sandblasted with artwork, created as part of a community art project by artist Tom Edwards. See below for more details.

We are anticipating much of the new spillway construction work will be completed by the end of 2024 and the reservoir restoration work finished by summer 2025. This will be followed by demobilisation of the construction site, building the new sailing club and extensive landscaping to return Toddbrook Reservoir and Memorial Park back to public use. We are now expecting a project end date around autumn 2025. We recognise this is later than hoped for and as set out in our original anticipated construction programme. Both the weather and ground conditions have proved challenging, but looking ahead, works will be above ground, and it may be possible to make up time.

Many thanks to everyone in the local area who may be affected by these essential construction works. We are very grateful for your continuing patience and cooperation. Our team will continue working to keep up the momentum and to keep you informed of our progress.

Update 10 January 2024

Change of Date

Please note the date for the drop-in community art project to decorate the construction hoardings in Whaley Bridge Memorial Park has unfortunately had to be changed from Saturday 20 January to Saturday 10 February. The timing is still 10am – 2pm.

Many apologies to those who had the initial date in their diaries.

Update 3 November

Community Arts Project: Please give us your ideas for artwork to cover the new dam stilling basin turrets

Staffordshire artist Tom Edwards (We are Culla) is working with the Canal & River Trust, Kier and local residents to create new artwork to cover two stilling basin turrets, at the base of the new Toddbrook Reservoir spillway in Whaley Bridge Memorial Park. Tom has issued an open invitation for adults and children to get in touch to suggest themes or motifs from local nature, history, culture or industry, they would like to see incorporated into the final designs.

The 6 metre-high turrets are crucial elements in controlling the water flow from the spillway and will be large focal points once complete. The Trust is keen for them to fit into the local environment as sensitively as possible. The final artwork will be ‘etched’ into the surface of the turrets, helping to soften the impact of the concrete structures on the local environment.

Artist impression aerial view of turrets on a reservoir
Man in high vis jacket and hard hat standing in front of construction site

Caption: Staffordshire artist Tom Edwards is leading a community art project on Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge. He is pictured here on the construction site, in front of the planned new turrets.

Over the next few months, Tom will be developing different design concepts and is looking for stories, comments or suggestions to take on board alongside his own research.

If you have an idea you would like to share with Tom, feedback can be provided via this online form

Alternatively, the form can be downloaded here. Please return to him, either at a special postbox in the Whaley Bridge Transhipment Warehouse or by emailing [email protected]. Deadline for feedback is 15 December 2023.

Want to get involved? Dates for your diary:

Saturday 9 December, 10am – 2pm Drop-in community art session, Transhipment Warehouse, Whaley Bridge Canal Basin. Saturday 20 January, 10am – 2pm Drop-in community art project to decorate the construction hoardings in Whaley Bridge Memorial Park. Plus special art workshops with local schools.

We are planning to share Tom’s preferred designs for public feedback in March 2024.

Update: 26 September 2023

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Staffordshire artist Tom Edwards to work on a special community art project, as part of the Toddbrook Reservoir restoration work.

The design for the new overflow spillway channel includes two large cylindrical concrete turrets, which play a crucial role in slowing down the waterflow into the new stilling basin. Rather than leave the exterior bare concrete, the plan is to sandblast the turrets with attractive artwork created by Tom, guided by the local community. Watch out for opportunities to join in his creative workshops. We will then put a final selection of designs out for public consultation this autumn to choose the winning artwork.

Tom says: “My style of work is very broad, encompassing everything from impressionism through to geometric minimalism. Most of my work is produced for a specific setting, and as such I like to work with my audience to find a style and approach which best suits its location. I love to paint organic shapes, plants and wildlife - especially birds!

“Over the next few months, I will be working alongside The Canal & River Trust, Kier and local residents to design artwork for the two stilling basin turrets. The final artwork will then be ‘sandblasted’ onto the concrete surface of the towers, creating a subtle change in texture and colour. This approach will help soften and blend them into the surrounding landscape, as well as telling a story that will resonate with the residents of Whaley Bridge.

“I’m very much looking forward to meeting you all. I will be hosting a number of creative workshops to directly involve you in the creation of what will be a long lasting and beautiful piece of art.“

Update: 6 September 2023

The bywash channel, which carries water flowing from Todd Brook stream around the reservoir into the River Goyt, is being diverted temporarily within the construction site, as part of the construction sequence to ensure reservoir safety,

The new route runs along the edge of the new spillway channel and is a key construction milestone, as it allows Kier to complete excavations for the new structure.

Once the new spillway channel is complete, all water flowing down the existing bywash will be diverted into the new channel to enter the River Goyt.

Aerial view of Toddbrook showing temporary bywash diversion

Update: 11 July 2023

Many thanks to everyone who attended the two open days at Toddbrook Reservoir construction site on 7 and 8 July.

Visitors were taken onto the dam footbridge to get a bird's eye view of work to create a new overflow spillway.

Group of men on a bridge talking to a man in high vis clothing on a sunny day
Construction work

Update: 1 June 2023

Computer Model

We have commissioned a new interactive, fly-through 3D model of the new dam spillway structure. Unfortunately our online model portal is currently down – we are working to correct this and make it available again as soon as possible.

Interactive instructions for the 3D map

Update: 18 April 2023

Kier has now installed 422 piles to create the new side channel weir and tumble bay at the top of the dam, which completes the tumble bay section of the sheet piling work. Over the coming months a further 600 piles, ranging in size from 4-12 metres, will be installed to line the route of the new spillway channel. Once in place, the ground will be excavated to form the new channel, lined in concrete, forming a base for the new spillway structures.

Where we have excavated at the dam crest, sheet piles will be kept in place throughout construction to maintain essential flood protection measures.

View from bridge of a big work site on a reservior

Update 16 February 2023

With our main contractor, Kier construction company, we're hosting a joint public open day on Wednesday 15 March at Toddbrook Reservoir, offering visitors a unique behind-the-scenes view of the two-year, £15 million restoration project that will bring the reservoir back into active use.

Visitors can book in advance for free, one hour guided tours onto the dam crest to view work in progress at the site, with sessions being held between 10.30am and 3.40pm.

Site work February 2023. View from dam crest

The main construction phase started last autumn and despite difficulties caused by a wet January, the plan is still to reopen the reservoir by late 2024. Kier have created a site compound on the northern end of the town's Memorial Park, which has been temporarily closed to the public. Hoardings have been erected, site accesses installed, and existing drainage and feeder channels are being realigned. The public is still able to walk through the park on a footpath connecting Reservoir Road to the Memorial Park Bridge, and new children's play equipment has been installed as a temporary measure at the top of the dam, next to Whaley Bridge Athletic Football Club.

Kier staff have started at the top of the site and already installed around 100 steel sheet piles at the dam crest. Further piles will be put in place over the coming months to construct the new side channel weir, tumble bay and spillway. These vary in size from 12 metres to 4 metres high and, once in place, the ground will be excavated to form the new channel, lined in concrete, forming a base for the new spillway structure.

Site work February 2023. Route for new spillway channel

We very much appreciate the patience of local residents during this phase of the project, which we expect to have finished later this summer. We are constantly monitoring noise, vibration levels and air quality at several stations across the site and appointed chartered surveyors to assess the impact.

The closure of the main road through Whaley Bridge by Network Rail for a couple of months has caused some issues for deliveries, but we currently have an average of ten lorries per day visiting the site and they are taking alternative routes where needed.

Site work February 2023. Piling for new side weir and tumble bay

To book a free place on Kier's Open Doors event on Wednesday 15 March, please go to the website or follow the link: Toddbrook Reservoir | Open Doors 2023.

We are also planning a briefing day for local school children later this term and will hold further public open days as the works progress.

Site work Feburary 2023 park hoarding and viewing point

Update: January 2023

Anyone travelling to the Toddbrook site office, please note that Network Rail has closed the main road through Whaley Bridge. The closure will last for about 10 weeks to allow Network Rail to repair the railway bridge over the A5004 Buxton Road. The road is due to reopen at the end of March. Drivers from northern routes are advised to approach the site office via Kettleshulme and Macclesfield Road.

Update: November 2022

Our contractors Kier have made good progress with setting up the main construction site and starting work on several drainage diversion schemes. The hoardings around the Memorial Park are now in place and will be decorated with a range of illustrated panels explaining the new spillway construction scheme, history, heritage and environment of Toddbrook Reservoir.

Aeriel shot of a construction site

The main construction works to create the reservoir's new overflow spillway are expected to begin in December, in the upper part of the site near the dam crest. One of the first tasks will be to install steel sheet piles, lining the new channel, and concrete piles by ‘continuous flight auger' on which the structure will be founded. Unfortunately, this will inevitably cause a certain amount of disruption in the local area. We apologise in advance for any noise and vibration caused by the piling work and we will be monitoring this very closely.

Construction work will be paused over Christmas and start again the first week in January.

Aeriel shot of a construction site

Anyone wanting more information, can contact Kier's dedicated Whaley Bridge stakeholder manager, Tess Smith. She is available every other Wednesday afternoon at a drop-in community hub, 2.30 -5pm, held at the Transhipment Warehouse in the town's Canal Basin. Check noticeboards at the warehouse and site works for further details and updates. There will also be local letter drops to near neighbours about construction traffic and site activity. Tess can be contacted by emailing [email protected].

Update: September 2022

Major construction work has now started to restore Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge. We will be working with our contractor Kier to deliver the restoration. The project is likely to cost around £15 million and take around two years to complete. The reservoir is due to reopen in late 2024.

Work has already begun to create a site compound on the northern end of the town's Memorial Park, which has been temporarily closed to the public. Hoardings are being erected, site accesses installed and existing drainage and feeder channels realigned.

The public will still be able to walk through the park on a footpath connecting Reservoir Road to the Memorial Park Bridge, which will feature a viewing point. New children's play equipment has been installed as a temporary measure at the top of the dam, next to Whaley Bridge Athletic Football Club.

At the end of the project, a new playground, similar to the existing one, will be rebuilt at the same location in the Memorial Park. The park will also be re-landscaped with replacement trees, wildlife habitats, extra paths and a new footbridge over the reservoir bypass channel. The project aims to achieve a net biodiversity gain of more than 10%.

Later this autumn, construction work begins to create a new overflow spillway structure to the north of the dam. This involves building a side channel weir, ‘tumble bay', spillway channel and stilling basin which will link into the existing bypass channel flowing into the River Goyt in the park.

Our specialist consultants Arup have created this fly-through video of the new Toddbrook overflow spillway route. The video only shows the new construction project, not existing landmarks like Toddbrook Lodge, which will be carefully preserved throughout the work.

To make way for the new spillway works, the sailing club will be relocated behind the new tumble bay. The current clubhouse has been dismantled and will be replaced by a new sailing club slipway, clubhouse, boat storage and car park.

The final phase of the project will be to remove the concrete panels from the 1970s-built overflow spillway, damaged in summer 2019. The dam will then be repaired and grassed over. This will be followed by works to the inlet cascade, at the far end of the reservoir, to increase resilience to high flows from Todd Brook stream.

Construction access will mainly be along Reservoir Road and we very much appreciate the cooperation of those residents in particular as we enter the main construction phase. We will do our best to mitigate noise and disruption as far as we can.

Want to keep up-to-date with progress?

Kier has appointed a new community stakeholder manager, Tess Smith. She will be available at a weekly drop-in hub every Wednesday afternoon, 2.30 – 5pm, in the Transhipment Warehouse at the Canal Basin in Whaley Bridge. There will also be a noticeboard with regular updates, both at the warehouse and by the site works, plus local letter drops to near neighbours about construction traffic and site activity.

Tess will be sending out regular updates by email. Anyone who has specific construction queries or would like to join the email list is invited to contact her via email: [email protected].

Please direct any construction specific queries to [email protected] or 07731 987228.

For any general queries, please email [email protected].

Extra safety precautions have resulted in a slight amendment to the original construction site plan. The first entrance to Memorial Park will now be primarily for cars/vans only. HGVs will enter and exit the site via the Sailing Club entrance on Reservoir

Why do we need to restore Toddbrook Reservoir?

Toddbrook Reservoir normally provides just over a third of the water supply needed to keep the beautiful Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals operational. It is essential we repair the reservoir to secure the long term future of the canal network in High Peak and East Cheshire.

Summer 2020, Auxiliary spillway - resilience repair project completed

As part of the first phase of restoring Toddbrook Reservoir, an important repair project to the dam's damaged auxiliary spillway was completed in late summer 2020, greatly increasing its resilience against extreme weather events.

A protective, waterproof nib or short wall has been added to the crest of the dam wall above the damaged spillway. This reaches down to create a seal with the dam's clay core and ensures no water from inside the reservoir can penetrate beneath the concrete slabs at the top of the spillway.

The spillway crest has also been increased in height by just over one metre with the installation of a sturdy waterproof concrete wall. Engineers completed the job with the installation of new pressure relief holes and joint repairs on the spillway.

Summer 2020: Works to increase the resilience of the dam wall were completed.
Artist impression from Memorial Park
Artist impression of Toddbrook dam
Artist's impression of the 'tumble bay'
picture of work site and reservoir in the background
Artist impression of new sailing club
Picture of spillway of a dam
Picture of a house with a small boat red boat in the garden

Improving the Todd Brook inlet and bypass channel

Toddbrook Reservoir is fed by a stream, Todd Brook, which is diverted at the head of the reservoir to either feed into the reservoir or along a bypass channel. The bypass channel runs along the northwest edge of the reservoir before feeding directly into the River Goyt.

After the emergency in August 2019, the masonry weir at the inlet channel was raised with the installation of mesh baskets filled with sandbags.

The plan is to replace these with a new structure, incorporating a footbridge, to provide a greater degree of control over how much water flows from the brook into the reservoir or around it via the bypass channel.

During normal weather conditions, while the reservoir remains drained, all flow is sent down the bypass channel ie. none into the reservoir. Expert hydrologists are constantly monitoring localised weather forecasts and water levels in the reservoir and bypass channel via a series of remote sensors. They can then alert colleagues if the on-site pumps need to be activated or sluice gates opened.

Toddbrook inlet and bypass channel

About the emergency

Following intense heavy rainfall at the end of July 2019, several concrete panels on the Toddbrook dam spillway collapsed. Around 1,500 residents of Whaley Bridge were evacuated from their homes for up to six nights as a safety precaution. Trust staff and volunteers worked around the clock with the local emergency services, including Derbyshire Fire & Rescue, Derbyshire Police and the Environment Agency, to stabilise the dam wall.

Over a billion litres of water were pumped from the reservoir during this emergency phase and water levels continue to remain nearly empty while the dam is repaired. This is likely to take several years.

Toddbrook Reservoir fast facts

  • Construction: Built in 1830s. Opened in 1840 as a feeder for the Peak Forest and Macclesfield canals
  • Length: 1.1km
  • Volume: 1,238 megalitres – equivalent to 495 Olympic-sized swimming pools
  • Dam wall height: 23.8m
  • Environmental status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Last Edited: 29 January 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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