Prior Park Historic Landscape Restoration

The landscape restoration of the historic dams at Prior Park is now complete. This  project secures the long-term preservation of the National Trust’s Grade I ‘Registered Park and Garden’.

The dams – a series of structures dating substantially from the mid -1700s – are a key element of the designed landscape at Prior Park. With the erosive effects of climate change and burrowing invasive Signal crayfish, the middle pond had been drained empty for safety. Essential repair works have been undertaken to the middle dam, including:

  • Constructing a new clay core.
  • Repair of stone work and restoring sections of the upstream dam wall.
  • Reprofiling the crest and bank profile to control overtopping in extreme flood events.
  • Protection of earth banks with sheet piling faced with timber cladding.

Work on the lower dam included raising the crest level and building a new outlet. The work will ensure that the dams can now deal with extreme weather events without risk of failure.

The success of the project depended on the sensitive integration of the newly engineered structures into the historic landscape setting.

Our role

Acting as lead consultant to the Trust, we needed an indepth understanding of the sensitivities of the landscape garden. This allowed us to collaborate with stakeholders and the design team to select appropriate engineering solutions. Key to this process was our preparation of visual montages of the design options. These allowed the team to see how the proposals would integrate into existing views.

Part of the new water management engineering works included restoration of an historic cascade at the middle dam. Its reconstruction involved careful analysis of historic evidence and interpretation of archaeological investigations. The sight and sound of water tumbling down the cascade once again animate the landscape!

The final stage of the project has established grassy lawns on the slopes of the pond banks and replanting of the landscape. The planting, undertaken by National Trust, includes new tree planting on the east lawn and shrub planting along the lower dam. These help the new engineering to blend into the landscape.

It has been a privilege to be a part of this project to restore this special landscape. It can now be safely enjoyed by generations to come.

To find out more about our landscape restoration work, please contact Jamie Farnell.

Charles is a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute. He has experience working in a range of sectors including education, residential and historic landscapes.

Recent Insights

See more