The works on the middle dam
After more than 250 years, the middle dam is showing its age. Is was the part of the garden that was most in need of restoration and expert attention. The middle lake has stood empty for the last few years, in order to relieve the pressure on its damaged dam. The current works will allow us to refill the lake and restore its reflections of Prior Park's iconic Palladian Bridge.
Whilst the passing of time has inevitably had an impact on the condition of the lakes, some pesky intruders have also caused a significant amount of damage. The invasive American signal crayfish have made Prior Park their home and their persistent burrowing contributes to the instability of the banks. The deterioraton of the banks was so extensive that sinkholes appeared alongside the middle dam, causing the closure of paths to visitors.
Much of the work on the middle lake is focussing on protecting the dam and its banks from these unwanted guests. Better defence systems against their burrowing are being built into the banks and their long term impact will be controlled through the creation of a management plan to control numbers. The original 18th-century wall that lines the upstream face of the dam is also being repaired and extended, to help prevent the crayfish burrowing into the dam itself.
Once the dam has been restored, we will be able to re-open the long-closed path between the lower and middle lake, opening up more of the landscape for visitors to enjoy. Excitingly, the works will also include the reinstatement of the small cascade between the middle and lower lakes, which was one of Ralph Allen’s original features, but had run dry in recent years.
At the end of the project, the reflections of the iconic Palladian Bridge will return to the middle lake, original features will have been restored and visitors will have freer movement along the paths.