The dams project FAQs

A view down to the Palladian Bridge through luscious plant growth, the bridge is reflected in the top lake

We're sure you have lots of questions about the dams project and what it will mean for the garden in 2019. To help you find answers quickly, we've collected your frequently asked questions below. This page will be updated regularly, throughout the duration of the project.

What will the impact be on visitors during the work?

We anticipate the garden will remain open during the work, but the visitor route will have to be adapted and access to some areas will be restricted. We will design the programme of works to enable visitors to see what is happening, as there will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see an 18th-century dam deconstructed and rebuilt.

Will entrance fees change during the work? 

Fees will be consistent with 2019 rates. As an independent conservation charity, we rely on the money earnt through entrance fees to help protect and conserve the special places we look after. National Trust places that undergo major restoration also try and incorporate the project into the experience for their visitors and the dams project will be a great chance for people to see conservation in action. Our theme for 2019 will be the dams project, and there will opportunities to find out more on guided walks, interpretation displays, by talking to our staff and volunteers and getting close to the action. 

During the dams project the Palladian Bridge will provide an excellent viewing point of the works
A family group stand on Prior Park's palladian bridge on summer's day, one of the women points out something of interest to a small child in her arms
During the dams project the Palladian Bridge will provide an excellent viewing point of the works

Will I still be able to access the Palladian Bridge? 

In a word- yes! Our current plans still enable visitors to access the bridge during the work. In fact, the bridge should be a great viewing point of the works. 

How will you be protecting the Palladian Bridge?

All historic structures in the garden have been surveyed, and we are working with a conservation engineer to review access arrangements to ensure the bridge and other historic features are fully protected during the work.

Although the tea shed will be closed, we hope to have a temporary catering stall at the top of the garden.
A home made carrot cake cut into slices, with a small chalk board sign in front of it.
Although the tea shed will be closed, we hope to have a temporary catering stall at the top of the garden.

What about the Tea Shed? 

The Tea Shed area will be within the contractors compound and work area, so it won’t be open to visitors. We are looking at the options for a temporary catering stall at the top of the garden instead.

What facilities will be available for blue badge holders

We hope to maintain normal access at the weekends. However regrettably we cannot guarantee normal access during the week. If you require use of the accessible parking to visit the garden, please contact the office when planning your visit.

Can I still use the lower gate?

We hope to keep the lower entrance/exit gate open, but might have to occasionally restrict access. Please check our website for details before you visit.

The works have been carefully planned to have minimal impact on Prior Park's wildlife.
A mature Great Tit sits in springtime branches.
The works have been carefully planned to have minimal impact on Prior Park's wildlife.

What provisions are being made for wildlife?

For more information, you can read about our plans on the article linked below. 

What will the work involve? 

The work involves deconstructing the middle dam and adding a new clay core faced with stone, maintaining the existing section of upstream face wall and building new wall where there are gaps. Timber edging will be added on the downstream face. The improved dam will be reprofiled to enable it to safely overtop in the event of an extreme flood event, whilst retaining its historic integrity. 

Similarly, the lower dam will also be upgraded to enable it to better manage extreme flood events. The works will also restore the historic cascade between the middle and lower lake, so that it flows freely once again. 

How long will the work take? 

The main phases of the works will take about a year, although, planting is likely to take a little longer. 

What will happen if you don't raise the extra £100,000

The dams project will still go ahead as planned, however, if funds are tight we may be unable to complete important aspects of the project that are not essential to the main works. We'd likely be unable to complete the landscaping and replanting of the garden once the engineering works are complete.

The lower lake as it currently stands, it still holds water but the banks are unstable and it is full of silt.

The dams appeal 

We have already secured £2.1 million to fund the dams project, but we're still fundraising for the final £100,000 needed to ensure we can complete the works. With your help we can restore the dams, reinstate the paths and refill the lakes, so visitors can enjoy tranquil reflections once again.