Gaddings Dam - Group

The Gaddings Dam Group

Gaddings Dam is owned and maintained by the Gaddings Dam Preservation Company Ltd, more commonly known by its trading name, the Gaddings Dam Group.

The group is a not-for-profit company set up for the sole purpose of preserving Gaddings Dam as a heritage site and amenity for the public. It is run by unpaid volunteers and is funded by donations and subscriptions.


Group members are kept busy with operation and maintenance of the dam, administration for the Reservoirs Act, regular inspections and rubbish collections, as well as fund raising and research into the history of the dam. Long term maintenance work includes reconstruction of the walls, stabilisation of the embankments and the management of wave erosion.

Group members carrying out wall repairs

The beach is heavily used and takes a lot of work to keep it in good condition, especially during summer. Litter has to be cleared and broken glass and beer cans from teenage parties has to be picked out of the sand before children arrive to play the next day.

The time consuming job of wall reconstruction

Repairs to the stone cladding of the walls is a long term project. So far over 2000 stones have been lifted from the floor of the reservoir and returned to the walls. Dive to the bottom and grab a rock, walk with it across the bottom and up the wall to break surface, then carry it to the top of the wall and put it into place. The diving for stones is easy and quick, the skillful and time consuming part is the actual wall reconstruction.

The reservoir is inspected weekly and the embankments checked daily during periods of heavy rain. The embankments were very well built and have stood the test of time, and measurements show that seepage is negligible. Nevertheless they do need some work to prevent the surface of the steeper slopes from slumping. Operations are ongoing to pin the surface, this is expensive and time consuming but is essential to preserve the integrity of the dam.


In the 1970s the dam was purchased by Mr John Slater, who lived locally, and who had already bought and preserved the nearby Lee Dam. By the 1990s, John Slater had retired and moved to Spain, and during the exceptionally wet winter of 1999 to 2000, an official from North West Water passed the dam whilst on other business, and noticed that the water levels were dangerously high. He reported this to Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, the Statutory Authority then responsible for administering the Reservoirs Act.

The Reservoirs Act applies to all reservoirs with a capacity of 25,000 cubic metres or more, a definition which comfortably applies to Gaddings Dam, with its 100,000 cubic metre capacity. Using their powers under the Act, the Council appointed an All Reservoirs Panel Engineer to carry out a statutory inspection of the dam as an 'Inspecting Engineer' (under the Act, all reservoir owners are supposed to appoint an Inspecting Engineer once every ten years, something that had not happened with Gaddings).

In his report, the engineer outlined a challenging programme of repair required to bring the dam into legal compliance, and concluded reluctantly that draining and abandoning the reservoir might be one option to explore. The then owner was not in a position to guarantee that this work would be undertaken, and the general consensus was that the dam's future was limited.


During the spring of 2001 a local enthusiast, Mr Jolyon Trimingham, formed a pressure group to campaign to save the dam. The group approached the owner, who promised to sell the dam to us at a preferential price of 1,500 provided it was preserved for the people of Todmorden. The group met weekly, deciding initially to constitute as an Unincorporated Association, and finally agreeing to form a Not-for-Profit company,

Tim Challis, Chairman of the Group from its formation until 2015

The Gaddings Dam Preservation Company Limited was registered in November 2001 and had the following Directors and elected officials:

(* still serving board members)

The Company Objects and Articles were designed, and the Company registered, by the Industrial Common Ownership Movement (ICOM) Ltd in Leeds, the cost of this being met by the Company's directors personally.

The Company's objectives are:

The Company's first full calendar year of operation was 2002, and the priority was to raise the money needed to purchase and insure the dam. A letter seeking support from the public was distributed to all signatories of earlier petitions, and to local companies and organisations.

Peter Rigg presents a cheque for 1,000 to the Gaddings Dam Group

Collectively, individual members of the public donated 1,600 to the cost of purchasing and maintaining the dam. Todmorden Town Council also donated 500 at the end of 2001, and a number of local companies gave smaller contributions. As the summer of 2002 approached, Gordon Rigg's Garden Centre in Todmorden donated 1,000, with the owner Peter Rigg presenting the cheque personally at the Company's stand at the Todmorden Agricultural Show in June.

Some 130 people signed up as 'Friends' of the dam for 10 each. The conveyancing for the dam was undertaken at a reduced rate by a respected local solicitor Mr Douglas Wilson, and Mr Nick Reilly, the All Reservoirs Panel Engineer appointed by Calderdale MBC, offered his services as 'Supervising Engineer' free-of-charge. In the summer of 2002 the conveyancing was completed, and the reservoir became the property of The Gaddings Dam Preservation Company Limited.


The group currently has six board members who share the workload between them.