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The Reservoir

I was first made aware of the sinking of the reservoir as a 17 year old returning from Whitland Grammar School’s French department day out to the theatre in Cardiff in 1983. My French teacher, Miss Margaret Jones had mentioned that she had grown up in New Inn, the daughter of the local vicar. I told her that a number of my ancestors were from Glascoed and mentioned Beech Farm (Roger Williams is my Gt-Gt Grandfather). She told me that she used to cycle around the lanes of Glascoed and that she thought that Beech Farm had probably been sunk beneath the reservoir. My heart sank at the thought.

This moment gave me a glimpse into what it must have been like for those folk who lost their homes when the reservoir claimed their homes in the 1960s. Obviously, my disappointment was nothing compared to those who were more directly affected.

Here is an account from Pat Morris, who also provided the map at the bottom of the page. She puts things far more clearly than I could hope to do, having lived through the experience:

The Development of the Llandegfedd Reservoir and its effects on the residents of Glascoed

As a teenager growing up in an idyllic countryside area the development of a reservoir and all of its implications for a family living there was traumatic. I will attempt to outline some of the people and places affected, as well as add some personal information.

The name “Llandegfedd Reservoir “ always irritates me because in fact the bulk of the reservoir is in Glascoed . The name originated because originally the reservoir was going to be lower down the valley and could possibly have covered parts of Llandegfedd. This change in location of siting the reservoir further into Glascoed meant that my home would now be affected..

 It was a big upheaval for many people who had been born in the houses in which they were living, in fact my mother had lived in our bungalow, Oakfield Bungalow, since 1932 when her father had had it built on land between Llan–y-nant Farm and Parcnewydd Bungalow.

There were many objections submitted to the minister of Housing and Local Government and he decided to hold a Public Enquiry  on October 2nd 1957 at the Civic Centre in Newport. Prior to this there was a meeting at the Three Salmons Hotel in Usk on the 17th September which had been organised by the National Farmers Union for people to air their views and plan for the Public Enquiry.

However Cardiff Corporation won  and in November 1958 under the title of Cardiff Corporation Water (Llandegfedd  Reservoir)Order 1958 an order was granted which covered the following:-

1. To construct an impounding reservoir on the Sor Brook

2. To take water from the River Usk

3. To acquire compulsorily lands approx 550 acres.

4. To stop up and extinguish all rights of way over certain roads.

5. To make provision for the supply of water to Abertillery and District Water Board, The Pontypool & District Water Company, and The County Borough of Newport.

The cost of constructing the reservoir was estimated at £3,139,858, in 1957,a sum which had to be borrowed by application to the Minister of Housing & Local Government.

Many people thought that residents would gain financially but in reality all properties were purchased under a Compulsory Purchase Order and every penny gained had to be fought for. Each resident employed their own valuer who would then negotiate with the District Valuer regarding the final price. Cardiff Corporation also employed a valuer who came out and visited every farm, house, or piece of land affected. I remember walking down from my bungalow to Llan-y-nant Farm with him . He completed a report as to the effect the reservoir would have on each of the properties affected.  Depending on this report , the finance received for compensating the owners/tenants would be calculated .He assessed farms etc on their ability to continue working after  the reservoir was built i.e. would they be economically viable and what loss or inconvenience would be caused by the building of the reservoir.

I have a copy of this report and his general description of the area affected was “almost all good agricultural land being well farmed and whilst some of the fields are banky they provide the necessary shelter, shade and water for stock.” One has to ask the question, why was this area chosen? having regard to the previous statement. One of the answers given was that the current reservoir would provide  more than 5,000 million gallons capacity and be able to meet increased demands both for housing and the development of the Spencer Works in Newport. But this reservoir is not filled by natural catchment, no big river was flowing through the valley, only the small  Sor brook. The water to fill this reservoir has to be pumped from the River Usk .the pipeline enters the reservoir at the Glascoed end of the reservoir just beneath Parc Newydd.

The Cardiff Corporation surveyor classed the affected lands into 4 categories.

1. Farms or lands which would be completely flooded

Pettingale Farm – Mr N Stone

Cwmbwrch Farm – Mr W C Vimpany

Llan-y-nant Farm – Mrs L M Edwards

Little Cwmbwrch – Mr O Williams.

2. Portions of land which would be taken from farms

Sluvad Farm – Mr Boulton

Lower Trostra Farm – Mr RD Jones

Greenmeadow Farm – E T Price

Tyn-y-caeau Farm  - Mr G Lawrence.

All of the above farms lost land, and it was assumed that loss and inconvenience would also arise from reduction in stock, redundancy of some farm buildings and implements, and the severance of some land making the future work inconvenient.

Greenpool Farm – Mr A E Williams

In the case of Greenpool Farm half of the farm would be under water and the  half left would be deemed unworkable as a family unit so the recommendation of the valuer was for Cardiff Corporation to purchase the lot with view to another farm being given the option to rent or buy the land not affected.

3 .Accommodation land and small areas.

These were pieces of land which

a. farms outside of the reservoir area used,

b. were needed for pipelines ,access etc.

  Although these people would be inconvenienced by their loss, this inconvenience is outweighed by the additional amenity value given to their properties.

4.Bungalow and Cottage Properties

Parcnewydd Bungalow -  A Summers

Oakfield Bungalow – Mrs F Evans

Cwmbwrch Cottage -Mr G Cox

Construction of the reservoir started in 1961 , most people had moved out by mid-1962 and the filling of the reservoir started in October 1963.Supplies of water were made available to the various local authorities by March 1964.

After our bungalow was sold to the Cardiff Corporation  we moved to Griffithstown. Griffithstown, which although more convenient for travel to school and work, was not as attractive as living in a rural bungalow with orchards and large gardens.

 My parents were allowed to dismantle and sell off any part of the bungalow or outbuildings. It was strange seeing your home without a roof once all the slates had been removed, and rooms minus their grates, etc and even stranger on a visit after the reservoir was built to see the shell of the building still standing in a particularly dry summer.

I wonder how many people who use the reservoir for various activities ever give a thought to those families who had to give up their homes and livelihoods?  

Pat Morris (nee Evans)  Nov.2013

A map showing the extent of the reservoir and properties submerged,

provided kindly by Pat Morris.