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Burrator Dam
Burrator Reservoir, north east of Plymouth, Devon, UK
associated engineer
Edward Sandeman
date  9th August 1893 - 21st September 1898
era  Victorian  |  category  Dam/Reservoir  |  reference  SX550680
ICE reference number  HEW 549
Burrator Dam, together with Sheepstor Dam which lies just to the east, impounds Burrator Reservoir 13km north east of Plymouth. The reservoir superseded the artificial watercourse known as Drakeís Leat (1584) as the water supply for the city. The dam spans the River Meavy at Burrator Gorge.
To avoid any vibration to the underlying ground, blasting was avoided in the excavation for the foundations of Burrator Dam, and all fissures and loose materials were removed carefully by manual labour. The foundation trench went down 16m and yielded plenty of granite stones which were used in the concrete body of the dam. Both sides are set with roughly dressed granite masonry. The dam is 23.5m high and 110m long, with a crest width of 5.5m and a base width of 18.9m at riverbed level.
Work on the two dams, the reservoir and a pipeline link to Roborough service reservoir was authorised by the Plymouth Corporation Act of 9th June 1893. Burrator Dam was designed by Edward Sandeman, water engineer to the corporation, who also supervised its construction by direct labour. Work began on 9th August 1893 and was completed in 1898 at a cost of £102,000, with an official opening ceremony by Mayor J.T. Bond on 21st September 1898.
Between December 1923 and 1928, the damís crest level was raised by 3m. The work was government-funded as part of an unemployment relief programme, and with the corresponding raising of Sheepstor Dam, increased the capacity of Burrator Reservoir by some 35% to 4,660 million litres.
Orr, Watt & Co of Motherwell in Scotland, erected a suspension bridge near the dam to carry works traffic. This temporary bridge had a weight limit of 10 tonnes but Russell Lillicrap drove a traction engine towing a threshing machine across it Ė the cables were so stretched that they had to be repaired.
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH South

Burrator Dam