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Cowm Dam
Whitworth, Lancashire, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  1867 - 1886
era  Victorian  |  category  Dam/Reservoir  |  reference  SD879187
ICE reference number  HEW 547
The first earth dam where it is known that grout was used to seal the foundations. After construction began, fissures were found in the underlying sandstone and the grout was applied to remedy the consequent leakage.
Cowm Dam impounds the waters of Tong End Brook, at Whitworth, north of Manchester. It was built under the powers granted by the Rochdale Waterworks Act 1866. The reservoir's catchment area is some 390 hectares of rough pasture land.
The dam is an earth embankment with a core of puddle clay. It retains some 1,076,000 cubic metres of water in the reservoir to a maximum depth of 15.5m. The crest of the embankment is 332m long. The downstream side of the dam has a slope of 1:2.5 and has two berms (ledges). The inner slope is 1:3, and is protected by stone pitching, with a storm wall 1.5m high. A 19.3m long weir discharges excess water into a masonry lined channel below the dam.
Construction began in 1867 and seemed complete by 1876. However, a trial filling of the reservoir revealed the leakage and the fissures were subsequently found in the underlying sandstone. Once these were grouted, the reservoir was brought into service in 1887. Subsequent subsidence and further grouting reduced the leakage to acceptable levels by 1886. No further work has been needed since.
Research: PD
"Rochdale Jubilee, 1856-1906", Rochdale Public Library

Cowm Dam