The works on the lower dam
Another important aspect of the dams project is the future-proofing of the lower dam. The works on this part of the garden are focussing on improving the dam's infrastructure and capability, as well as re-profiling the lakes damaged banks.
Expert engineers and architects carefully considered how the lower dam should be re-designed to increase its water outlet capacity, in order to ensure that the dam would effectively manage an extreme weather event. Yet whilst modern thinking and advancement in engineering is central to the restoration of the dam, the project team has ensured that visually, the new design will be in keeping with its 18th-century origins.
Before the works began, the lower lake was slowly drained through a controlled release into the waterways downstream.
As with the middle lake, the banks of the lower lake had been slowly deteriorating and needed similar attention and restoration. The banks were gradually slipping into the lake and had become so steep, that some areas had been roped off for some time before the project started. By re-profiling and stabilising the east bank, we will be able to create a more authentic sweeping lawn down to the water's edge and open up more of the garden to visitors.
To help restore the beautiful landscape seen in Thomas Robbins' 1762 sketch, the works will include the redistribution of the silt that has collected within the lower lake to reduce weed growth, and to restore the reflections on the surface.
Although some trees have needed to be removed to enable construction vehicles to access the lake area, the trees lost will be replaced with trees and shrubs that are more authentic and in keeping with the 18th-century style.
At the end of the works the lower dam's capabilities will have been modernised and the banks will have been protected from further damage. Importantly, the changes will also help return Prior Park to it's 1764 glory, how the garden looked at the time of creator Ralph Allen's death