Construction Development Alliance (CDA) members Archaeological Research Services (ARS) recently was involved in the much-loved Toddbrook Reservoir and dam, recording and heritage survey.

The dam is best known for its appearance in the national news during the summer of 2019, with the residents of Whaley Bridge having to be evacuated. The striking images of RAF helicopters dropping sandbags onto a damaged spillway section are also remembered this time.

The Canal & River Trust commissioned ARS to undertake a detailed drone survey of the Toddbrook Dam prior to significant work to install a new spillway. The new spillway will fulfil the requirements of reservoir safety needed for the reservoir to be refilled and returned to normal use.


Using a sophisticated drone-mounted laser scanner and camera, we created a highly detailed ‘digital clone’ of the dam and its surrounding area, showing the site before it began to be transformed.

Aside from the dam, such as the two impressive 19th-century valve houses, important structural details can be seen in the model and the original spillways and by-wash channels.

Many original features will become hidden and inaccessible to the public, as ongoing work to install a replacement spillway will ensure the safety of the reservoir for years to come.

The creation of a digital replica of the site not only ensures that an accurate and detailed 3D record of the original dam will be archived for posterity but also allows for the creation of exciting products, such as interactive digital 3D models and scaled 3D printed models that can be used for public outreach.