The Elan Valley Reservoir System

This certificate was unearthed at the bottom of a cardboard box in October 2012 - a full 74 years after it was presented to Edward Jerman in 1938, only five years before he died.  He was the requisite 65 years old when he retired from the employment of the Birmingham Water Corporation.  Whether or not he received a pension from them, or relied on the state pension, is unknown: in either case his short-lived retirement was typical of the time - and also about that actuarially assumed by the creators of the first old age pension schemes in the early part of the twentieth century.  Now, of course, different life expectancy assumptions prevail. Too old for service in World War 2, Edward Jerman was, in 1943, living at Tan y Gorn, a cottage at the bottom of the Gorn Road, Llanidloes.  One of his daughters had shown an eye for fashion and had run a milliner's shop, then married a grocer and general outfitter to set up shop in Llanidloes.   They bought Tan y Gorn sometime in the late 1930s for themselves, their father and some of their siblings.   One of them, of course, Russell, was away serving in the Allied forces.

The question is why did a Llanidloes man, who never moved from the area, work for the Birmingham Water Corporation, for what appears to be about forty years?  The answer lies in exploring one of the greatest feats of civil engineering to be undertaken at the turn of the twentieth century.   This took place at the Elan Valley, some 12 miles from Llanidloes.

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Edward Jerman and work colleagues, Elan Valley reservoir system 

Edward Jerman is believed to be shown top left, pipe in mouth, with what look like work colleagues.  He looks a bit older and is dressed a little differently: he may be the foreman.  One problem with this photograph is the very clean appearance of the workers – if that is what they are - particularly the gentleman at the front in the white shirt!  Perhaps the occasion is a works outing, or possibly the photograph was taken at the start of the day.   This photograph is believed to have been taken near the filter beds on the Elan Valley reservoir system, located near Rhayder, an early impression of which is shown below.  Thanks to Lloyd Lewis, Editor of Cronicl Powys, Powys Family History Society, for suggesting the photograph’s location, and also for identifying the following other workers:

 Top: L-R:  Edward Jerman, Jock Donald, unknown, unknown   Middle: Percy Price, David John Davies, Scofield Owen, unknown  Bottom:  Unknown, Ralph Price, Luther Williams, Unknown.


The statue of the "unknown worker" outside the modern Elan Valley Visitor Centre provides inspiration to the most recent generation.  Photo by G. Jones, August 2010.










Edward Jerman would not have worked on the last dam to be built - the Claerwen - in the 1950s.

This page awaits further work.


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