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Whaley Bridge: RAF Chinook drops 400 tonnes of sand onto Toddbrook Reservoir dam

Aug 02, 2019
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A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter was today sent in to a Peak District market town to stop a reservoir collapsing after it was badly damaged during heavy rain and 1,000 inhabitants were forced to immediately flee. 

Officials told of a ’50/50 chance’ the Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire would collapse after residents of Whaley Bridge spent a worrying night away from their homes amid the ‘critical’ situation following five days of downpours.

Engineers were ‘very concerned’ as they scrambled to save the 19th century dam which could be set to burst any minute, with teams laying sandbags to prevent the water breaking through and wiping out the picturesque town.  

Officers spent hours going door-to-door around homes in the village, as residents fled the area in case the 1.3million tonnes of water contained in the huge Georgian-era Toddbrook Reservoir starts to escape. 

Families were turning up in tears at the evacuation point of a school three miles away in Chapel-en-le-Frith as they were put up in hotels in the Buxton area and police also told them of a 50/50 chance the dam would be breached.

The Environment Agency issued a severe ‘danger to life’ flood warning after 82.8mm (3in) of rain fell on the hills above Whaley Bridge in 48 hours up to yesterday afternoon, the equivalent of a month’s worth of rain. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers will chair a Cobra emergency response committee meeting to discuss the situation, and his ‘thoughts are with those who have had to leave their homes’. 

Whaley Bridge councillor David Lomax told LBC Radio that there was a ’50/50 chance’ the dam would collapse – and the worst case scenario would be an ‘awful lot of damage’, although it would not ‘wipe out the town’.

He said the main shopping area are under the dam, and the emergency services were doing ‘a lot of work’ during a spell of dry weather. Mr Lomax warned residents they would not be able to return for at least a couple of days. 

Residents affected by the evacuation will gather at Chapel High School at 5pm today to talk about their concerns with representatives from Derbyshire Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Service and High Peak Borough Council. 

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

The RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

The RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

Drone images show the damage to the dam and the empty streets of Whaley Bridge today after police ordered an evacuation

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

Military personnel use a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter to lower bags of aggregate onto the reservoir dam this morning

Military personnel use a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter to lower bags of aggregate onto the reservoir dam this morning

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter has been sent in to Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire today to help at Toddbrook Reservoir

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter has been sent in to Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire today to help at Toddbrook Reservoir

Donations that have been left for families evacuated to Chapel High School following the concerns over the dam yesterday

The scene at the Toddbrook Reservoir dam above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire yesterday where flooding has burst the dam

The scene at the Toddbrook Reservoir dam above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire yesterday where flooding has burst the dam

Where Whaley Bridge is in relation to the reservoir and the dam wall which has a hole in it, and the flow of the water

Where Whaley Bridge is in relation to the reservoir and the dam wall which has a hole in it, and the flow of the water 

The reservoir, which contains 1.3 million tonnes of water, has seen ‘extensive’ damage from flooding including a huge hole in the dam wall – with the helicopter sent from RAF Odiham in Hampshire to assist emergency efforts. 

The Chinook was putting gravel on the damaged section of the spillway, with engineers saying the crucial puddle clay core of the dam was intact – but the load on the core lost when the earth was eroded had to be replaced. 

Toodbrook Reservoir is home to ducks and heron and dates back to 1831 

  • The reservoir, opened in 1831, feeds the Peak Forest Canal.
  • Toddbrook reservoir has a variety of trails, making it popular with walkers, and it is also used by its own sailing club.
  • It is a protected area – known as a Site of Special Scientific Interest – as it is home to herons, ducks and rare mosses.
  • The reservoir contains 300 million gallons of water which is equivalent to 454 Olympic swimming pools.
  • When the dam underwent a controlled emptying during repair work completed in 2011, a ‘fish rescue’ meant 11,000 lb of fish were evacuated, to be replaced when it was refilled.
  • The Whaley Bridge area has 26 grade II listed buildings ‘of special interest’ and 2 grade II* buildings, which are particularly important buildings of ‘more than special interest’.
  • Properties in Whaley Bridge sell for an average of £276,324 and during the last year, prices increased by 14 per cent on the previous year.

Wing Commander Gary Lane, the RAF liaison officer at the scene, said: ‘Once the call from the civilian authorities came, we rapidly deployed an RAF Chinook and support crews to provide this vital support. 

‘We will continue to use the skills of our highly trained air and groundcrew and the astonishing lift capability of the Chinook to assist in ensuring the safety of the public.’

Videos shared by Shirebrook Fire Station showed the Chinook laden with the aggregate as it flew above the area and hovered above the the dam wall. Police said 400 tonnes of aggregate would be brought by the RAF.

Julie Odams from Derbyshire County Council said around 1,000 people were evacuated and most found their own accommodation with family and friends. 

The council also found a small number of people places to stay in hotels in the Buxton area, which meant nobody needed to sleep overnight at the rest centre set up at the high school in Chapel-en-le-Frith. She said the centre remained open for anyone who needed help.

‘The evacuation generally was very, very smooth but it was disruptive for people and the time for leaving wasn’t great so people weren’t able to collect everything they wanted to,’ Ms Odams said. ‘We’ve not had anybody who’s been very distressed or anything like that. The evacuation has been very orderly.’

Julie Sharman, chief operating officer of the Canal and River Trust which runs the reservoir, said efforts were ongoing today to protect the structure and reduce the amount of water being held back by the dam.

‘The operation loading the front face of the dam using the Chinook helicopter is in process and is going to go on for most of the day here,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘Additional pumping is going in and the good news is that the inflow to the reservoir has reduced considerably. We’ve lowered the level of the water in the reservoir by 200mm (8in). 

‘We are obviously aiming to get that down considerably more. The primary task at the moment is to load the front face of the dam to secure the structure, in parallel with lowering the water.’

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann, chairwoman of the Local Resilience Forum, said: ‘At this time the future of the dam wall remains in the balance and I would remind people of the very real danger posed to them should the wall collapse.’

Firefighters deployed from across the country used at least ten high volume pumps to reduce water to a safe level before work will begin to repair the dam wall. 

Attempts continue to repair the dam at nearby Toddbrook Reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge this morning

Attempts continue to repair the dam at nearby Toddbrook Reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge this morning

Derbyshire Police said 400 tonnes of aggregate would be brought by the RAF today as part of a multi-agency taskforce

Derbyshire Police said 400 tonnes of aggregate would be brought by the RAF today as part of a multi-agency taskforce

A dron picture shows the empty streets of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire this morning following the evacuation yesterday

A dron picture shows the empty streets of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire this morning following the evacuation yesterday

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

The Chinook has been dropping one-ton sandbags to reduce the flow of water where there is an estimated 1.3 million tonnes

The Chinook has been dropping one-ton sandbags to reduce the flow of water where there is an estimated 1.3 million tonnes

'It's not going to go away on its own. It's absolutely necessary': Derbyshire police say pumps are needed to get around 4.2 million litres of water an hour out of the reservoir

‘It’s not going to go away on its own. It’s absolutely necessary’: Derbyshire police say pumps are needed to get around 4.2 million litres of water an hour out of the reservoir

A helicopter prepares another sandbag drop off while engineers have pumped water from the reservoir overnight

A helicopter prepares another sandbag drop off while engineers have pumped water from the reservoir overnight

Derbyshire’s Chief Fire Officer Terry McDermott said there were 150 firefighters at the site, with ten high-volume pumping crews from around the UK. He said the priority was reducing the level of the water behind the dam wall. 

Evacuees offered bed and ‘continental breakfast’… for £100 per person

As 1,000 residents were evacuated, one man took it upon himself to offer them help – albeit at a cost.

Twitter user Scott welcomed the people of Whaley Bridge to his home – but claimed a bed and ‘continental breakfast’ would set them back £100 per person.

After being questioned, he added how he was ‘here to help’ and his ‘prices are clear’ – at a time when four-star Shrigley Hall Hotel offered people a place to stay free of charge if they quoted ‘Whaley incident’.  

Some responded to his ad with tongue-in-cheek replies. One said: ‘Just like to thank Scott for his hospitality, although the price was a bit steep, I slept soundly after he made me a lovely Horlicks before bed.’

Another joked: ‘How was the continental breakfast?’   

Some Twitter users suggested he was making it up, while others said they had reported him for ‘scamming’. 

Speaking in nearby Chapel-en-le-Frith, Mr McDermott said: ‘It does seem to be starting to reduce now. I think a lot of that is because the amount of water going into the reservoir has slowed down.’

But he said engineers remain ‘very concerned’, adding: ‘The structural engineer is saying if we don’t do something there will be a problem. It’s not going to go away on its own. It’s absolutely necessary, the activity that’s going on.’

Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘My thoughts are with those who have had to leave their homes and all of those who are affected in Whaley Bridge. First responders, engineers and RAF crews are working around the clock to fix the dam.

‘I have just spoken to Gold Commander and Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann to thank them for their ongoing efforts and I have instructed the Environment Secretary to chair a COBR meeting later today.’

Many people were told to leave their homes and directed to the evacuation point in Chapel-en-le-Frith. Police added that a timescale for people to be able to return to their homes is ‘currently unknown’. 

Ms Villiers said: ‘This morning I am receiving regular updates from the ground on the situation in Whaley Bridge and the fast action being taken by the police and other agencies.

‘Later today I will chair a meeting of the Government’s emergency COBR committee to make sure everything possible is being done to draw down water levels, fix damage to the dam and protect homes and businesses.

‘My thoughts are with those who have had to leave their homes and I would like to thank all emergency services, military personnel and all others for their continued hard work.’  

Dr Mohammed Heidarzadeh, a professor from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Brunel University London, said the damage to the reservoir spillway put the entire dam structure at risk. 

An elderly couple and their dog take a moment to watch the helicopter's landing as roads are swarmed with water and railways lines are closed

An elderly couple and their dog take a moment to watch the helicopter’s landing as roads are swarmed with water and railways lines are closed

Sandbanks are dropped by a helicopter at Toddbrook Reservoir, Derbyshire, amid Derbyshire Chief Fire Officer Terry McDermott's statement which warned that 'if we don't do something there will be a problem'

Sandbanks are dropped by a helicopter at Toddbrook Reservoir, Derbyshire, amid Derbyshire Chief Fire Officer Terry McDermott’s statement which warned that ‘if we don’t do something there will be a problem’

In it for the long haul: Water is going to be cleared from the dam for up to three days according to the county's police

In it for the long haul: Water is going to be cleared from the dam for up to three days according to the county’s police

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

Derbyshire Constabulary issued this photograph today showing damage to the Toddbrook Reservoir dam in Derbyshire

Derbyshire Constabulary issued this photograph today showing damage to the Toddbrook Reservoir dam in Derbyshire

Emergency service workers continue efforts to avoid a catastrophe at Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire this morning

Emergency service workers continue efforts to avoid a catastrophe at Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire this morning

Attempts continue to repair the dam at nearby Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

Attempts continue to repair the dam at nearby Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

A roadblock on the outskirts of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire is pictured this morning after the area was evacuated by police

A roadblock on the outskirts of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire is pictured this morning after the area was evacuated by police

Many people were told to leave their homes and directed to the evacuation point in Chapel-en-le-Frith yesterday

Many people were told to leave their homes and directed to the evacuation point in Chapel-en-le-Frith yesterday

Supplies of water in Chapel

Bags of supplies have been brought into the school

Water bottles and other bags of supplies were brought to the evacuation point in Chapel-en-le-Frith yesterday

He said: ‘The spillway is now broken and a big chunk of its concrete structure is damaged. There is a possibility that the spillway could then become fully broken in a few hours. If the spillway is fully gone, the embankment dam will be washed away very rapidly which could cause a massive flood.’

How dam burst in 1864 killed 240 in England’s worst man-made disaster 

The biggest man-made disaster in English history occurred when a Sheffield dam failed on March 11, 1864, killing 240 people.

The newly built Dale Dyke Dam – designed to supply the city’s burgeoning steel industry – burst its 100ft (30m) high banks in the middle of the night while it was being filled for the first time.

More than 700 million gallons (3,200 litres) of water and tons of rubble cascaded into Loxley Valley and continued south into Sheffield town centre, destroying everything in its path.

The Dale Dyke Dam in Sheffield burst its banks in the middle of the night while it was being filled for the first time in 1864

The Dale Dyke Dam in Sheffield burst its banks in the middle of the night while it was being filled for the first time in 1864

Entire mills, warehouses and homes were swept away and Sheffield was swamped, with more than 600 houses destroyed or damaged.

The initial cause was a crack in the embankment, the catalyst for which was never determined.

The dam was rebuilt in 1875, and its failure led to reforms in engineering practices and mandatory standards in the construction of large-scale structures.

The most recent fatal dam failure was in 1925 when 16 people were killed in Dolgarrog, North Wales, after two dams burst following heavy rain.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal and River Trust, which runs the reservoir, warned last night that it could be ‘at least 24 hours’ until they can rule out the dam collapsing.

‘We clearly don’t know the nature of the failure, we’ve not had the opportunity to examine it, but we’re operating in a very precautionary way with the other agencies,’ he told BBC Newsnight.

‘Our first priority is to draw down the water and it’s very important that we do keep everyone out of the area until that is done. It will be at least 24 hours, it could be longer, it really depends on how much progress we can make overnight and into tomorrow morning.’ 

He added that the last annual inspection of the structure by a senior engineer was last November.

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster added: ‘The Armed Forces continues to support local authorities in tackling the flooding we have seen across many parts of the UK. 

‘The rapid response of the RAF in deploying a Chinook helicopter will provide extra support in Derbyshire and we stand ready to assist in any way required. 

The Environment Agency issued a ‘danger to life’ warning covering the River Goyt, as the river could ‘rise rapidly’ due to water rushing in from the reservoir.

A small number of properties in the areas of Furness Vale and New Mills, outside Whaley Bridge but inside the flood risk area, were also evacuated last night.

A local resident said that another section of the spillway – designed to release water – further collapsed.

Carolyn Whittle, who lives in Meadowfield, on the hillside in Whaley Bridge, said: ‘Another section of the concrete on the dam face has now collapsed.’

The 45-year-old, who works for GM Moving, said: ‘I’ve lived in Whaley for the best part of 45 years, and I’ve never seen water flood over the dam like that, ever, nor thought that we could possibly be at risk in this way.’ 

Evacuees were told to gather at the school in Chapel-en-le-Frith or head further afield to stay with family or friends following fears over the reservoir, which was built in 1831 and drains a 43-acre catchment area. 

Police urged residents to ensure they took any pets and medication ‘for a number of days’, and asked people to ‘make alternative arrangements to stay with friends and family’. 

Emergency services and an RAF member take a snap of the helicopter - as some locals say they have never seen water flood over the dam like it before

Emergency services and an RAF member take a snap of the helicopter – as some locals say they have never seen water flood over the dam like it before

'If the dam goes, my cottage is in the firing line down river': Residents have shared their anguish about the 50/50 chance of the dam collapsing

‘If the dam goes, my cottage is in the firing line down river’: Residents have shared their anguish about the 50/50 chance of the dam collapsing

The Derbyshire reservoir has a 'history of leakage' according to the Environment Agency report on national dam incidents

The Derbyshire reservoir has a ‘history of leakage’ according to the Environment Agency report on national dam incidents

The aircraft creates a rainbow in the spray as it prepares for landing. There are an estimated 150 firefighters working at the reservoir with 10 'high-volume' pumping crews

The aircraft creates a rainbow in the spray as it prepares for landing. There are an estimated 150 firefighters working at the reservoir with 10 ‘high-volume’ pumping crews

Boris Johnson has praised the 'first responders, engineers and RAF crews [who] are working around the clock to fix the dam'

Boris Johnson has praised the ‘first responders, engineers and RAF crews [who] are working around the clock to fix the dam’

Night shift: Emergency services slowly descend into the empty town of Whaley with their next load of aggregate

Night shift: Emergency services slowly descend into the empty town of Whaley with their next load of aggregate

Resident Hanna Sillitoe has spoken about how the 'stark reality of what's happening upstream hits us again' when a Chinook flies over the blue skies

Resident Hanna Sillitoe has spoken about how the ‘stark reality of what’s happening upstream hits us again’ when a Chinook flies over the blue skies

The force said the evacuation was ‘not a decision that has been taken lightly’, adding: ‘We appreciate that there is significant impact on this community, however, this is an unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation.’ 

Respite from the rain with ‘dry and warm weather’ for most of Britain today

The Met Office is predicting ‘dry and warm weather’ for most parts of the country today – although some showers may develop in the north and east.

Over the weekend, conditions are set to be warm with scattered showers, but these could become heavy again in the north and west. More thundery showers are predicted in Northern England early next week.

Here is the forecast for the next few days: 

Today: Mostly dry and cloudy in the morning, although there will be sunny spells for Northern Ireland and south-west England. A generally dry picture through the course of the day for many, but some showers are still expected to develop, these most numerous during the afternoon. Generally gentle winds.

Tonight: It will be mostly dry with sunny spells during the evening, although a few showers will remain for a time across central areas. After midnight it will be dry with clear skies for many, although patches of mist and fog are likely to develop for many central, northern and eastern areas. Gentle winds.

This weekend: Tomorrow will be dry with sunny spells for many northern and eastern areas. Southern and western parts will start bright but become mostly cloudy with showers later. On Sunday, bands of showers will transfer eastwards across the country, some heavy, especially in the north. Light southerly winds.

Just before midnight last night Derbyshire Police said they had put in place an action plan, which included using water pumps to remove water from the reservoir to relieve pressure on the dam wall. 

Residents in the area have said they ‘have never seen anything like it’, despite living in the area all of their lives, one local also added that it was the worst flood in the village in living memory. 

The rest of the plan was for 400 tonnes of aggregate to divert water from entering the reservoir and into other surrounding watercourses designed for the purpose. 

Police said once those measures reduce the water to a level that is safe, work will begin on the dam wall itself. 

Last night Sarah Edgar, resident of Whaley Bridge since October 18, left with her husband, David and ten-year-old son just before residents were evacuated. 

The family live around a quarter of a mile from the dam. She said: ‘We have been keeping an eye on it since yesterday. It was torrential rain. I checked Facebook and everyone was saying how bad it was. 

‘Our garden and the houses opposite have a brook separating them and that became a raging river, it’s washed thins away in the neighbours garden. 

‘It used to be ten foot down from garden level and yesterday it was overflowing. This morning we got up and when we heard about the damage to the dam we knew we were going to be evacuated so we left earlier because my son would be panicking. 

‘It was scary, neighbours who’ve lived there for 15 years said they’d never seen anything like it. We moved from Buxworth in October last year, we wish we’d stayed there. 

‘I’ve never known it to flow over like that. The police told us to take medication, animals and prepare for a few days away. My husband is a landscape gardener so he hasn’t been able to work’.  

Damage caused to Toddbrook Reservoir, pictured yesterday, which has led to the town of Whaley Bridge being evacuated

Damage caused to Toddbrook Reservoir, pictured yesterday, which has led to the town of Whaley Bridge being evacuated

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Emergency services walked across a bridge and put down sandbags in front on the direction of the flowing water yesterday

Emergency services walked across a bridge and put down sandbags in front on the direction of the flowing water yesterday

Police told the town's 6,500 residents to gather at a local school yesterday following the damage to the dam in Derbyshire

Police told the town’s 6,500 residents to gather at a local school yesterday following the damage to the dam in Derbyshire

People gathered to watch the flood waters nesar the dam yesterday despite police having urged residents to evacuate

People gathered to watch the flood waters nesar the dam yesterday despite police having urged residents to evacuate 

A host of emergency services were seen last night as they tried to battle the damage and keep residents safe from harm

A host of emergency services were seen last night as they tried to battle the damage and keep residents safe from harm

An aerial view shows which areas would be hit if the dam was to burst, as police advise residents to gather their things

An aerial view shows which areas would be hit if the dam was to burst, as police advise residents to gather their things 

People look at the reservoir yesterday as deluged communities across the North of England face yet more flooding

People look at the reservoir yesterday as deluged communities across the North of England face yet more flooding 

The image above shows one man climbing underneath the bridge and investigating the structure of it yesterday

The image above shows one man climbing underneath the bridge and investigating the structure of it yesterday

The close proximity of homes to the Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire can be seen in this photograph taken yesterday

The close proximity of homes to the Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire can be seen in this photograph taken yesterday

As the evening went on, emergency services continued to battle to repair the damage done and were seen in a rescue boat

As the evening went on, emergency services continued to battle to repair the damage done and were seen in a rescue boat

The letter given to residents in the area explaining that they are at risk from the nearby reservoir yesterday

The letter given to residents in the area explaining that they are at risk from the nearby reservoir yesterday

Yesterday a team of men could be seen observing the damage in the area after it was damaged after rainfall in Derbyshire

Yesterday a team of men could be seen observing the damage in the area after it was damaged after rainfall in Derbyshire

Police went door to door in the area telling people to leave their homes and businesses and gather at a local school yesterday

Police went door to door in the area telling people to leave their homes and businesses and gather at a local school yesterday

One emergency services worker was seen with his hands on his head after battling to repair the damage yesterday

One emergency services worker was seen with his hands on his head after battling to repair the damage yesterday

Footage taken from a helicopter yesterday showed the water (right) flowing though the village as boats can be seen piled up

Footage taken from a helicopter yesterday showed the water (right) flowing though the village as boats can be seen piled up

Workers in the area had to use a JCB yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir into the Todd Brook

Workers in the area had to use a JCB yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir into the Todd Brook

A resident of the village of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire was advised to evacuate his home yesterday afternoon

A resident of the village of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire was advised to evacuate his home yesterday afternoon

Workers including the fire service use a JCB digger yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir

Workers including the fire service use a JCB digger yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir

Meanwhile one owner of a nearby local pub told which has also been evacuated told of how she called her partner to tell him it was time to leave.

What is the history of the Toddbrook Reservoir? 

Emergency services are evacuating people from their homes in Derbyshire over fears a reservoir could collapse following heavy rainfall in the area.

Toddbrook Reservoir is on the north-west edge of the Peak District National Park, sitting above the small town of Whaley Bridge.

It was built in 1831, according to some experts, while the Environment Agency record it as being built between 1840-41.

The structure supplies water to the Peak Forest Canal, a waterway in northern England running between the town and Ashton under Lyne.

Owned by the Canal & River Trust, the reservoir is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to local wildlife.

The spillway on the embankment dam, which releases water, became damaged following extensive rainfall yesterday and partially collapsed.

Reservoir safety is maintained by inspections under an act created in 1930 and strengthened in 1975, according to experts, but flooding and other weather events have led to concerns about safety of older structures.

Professor Roderick Smith, from Imperial College London, said: ‘Extreme weather events mean that there is increasing unease about the safety of older dams: particularly the need to release excess water safely and easily.’

The reservoir was damaged due to flooding in 1964, according to the Environment Agency, but another specialist said it was ‘unlikely’ it had been in an unsafe condition before the heavy rainfall on Thursday.

Professor Tim Broyd, Professor of Built Environment Foresight at University College London, said: ‘Dams are highly regulated structures, which includes regular structural inspections by highly qualified engineers.

‘It is unlikely therefore that the dam was in a previously unsafe condition. What may have been the cause, however, is that the flow rate into the reservoir was exceptionally high, as a result of extreme local rainflows.’

Speaking to the BBC, Jennifer, owner of the Goyt Inn said: ‘Bring the dog. We have to get out. The dam is a mess. It really looks very unsafe and there’s a lot of water in that reservoir.’ 

Officers said people with nowhere to go will be accommodated, but ‘there is limited capacity to do so’. They added: ‘If you are unable to leave your own home and require assistance please contact 101 and ask for the police.’

The National Fire Chiefs Council said firefighters pumped tonnes of water from the reservoir following significant rainfall resulting in it overflowing.

It added: ‘At least ten High Volume Pumps and a number of firefighters from across the country have already been deployed to assist as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s National Resilience response. 

‘In addition, a number of specialised members of staff including tactical advisers are at the scene. More assets could be deployed as the situation unfolds.

‘Levels in Derbyshire’s River Goyt could rise rapidly due to water coming from the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir, which contains 1.3 million tonnes of water and the dam holding it back contains 300 million gallons of water. 

‘There are concerns the reservoir walls could collapse, flooding nearby homes. A wall around Toddbrook Reservoir is already showing extensive damage.’

Network Rail confirmed Northern trains between Hazel Grove and Buxton stopped in both directions and will only run again when emergency services confirm it is safe for them to do so.

Rail passengers on the Liverpool Lime Street / Nottingham / Norwich line also had their journeys disrupted as a result of the dam threatening to collapse.

An East Midlands Trains spokesman said: ‘This rail closure of the Hope Valley follows a request by police in relation to the damaged dam at Toddbrook Reservoir, Whaley Bridge. We are working closely with other agencies to enable the railway to be re-opened as soon as it is safe to do so.’

Lee Rawlinson, area director at the Environment Agency, said: ‘We don’t issue severe flood warnings lightly but you can imagine the volume of water that sits behind that reservoir. If there was to be a catastrophic failure then that would have a huge significant effect on those living downstream.’

Local residents were given an ‘Appendix B – Evacuation Card’ which explained the major incident. It read: ‘There is a concern that you and your property are at risk from Toddbrook Reservoir, EVACUATE YOUR PROPERTY NOW.’ 

Evacuees leave Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir threatens to break in the severe weather

Evacuees leave Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir threatens to break in the severe weather

Workers use a JCB digger in their efforts to protect Whaley Bridge which was evacuated yesterday afternoon

Workers use a JCB digger in their efforts to protect Whaley Bridge which was evacuated yesterday afternoon

Emergency services in the village of Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir was damaged

Emergency services in the village of Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir was damaged

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge yesterday as the area was evacuated by police

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge yesterday as the area was evacuated by police

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had a 'large number ' of vehicles at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had a ‘large number ‘ of vehicles at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

It then goes on to give a list of instruction of what people in the area need to do, however the paper was dated April 2018. Residents have become overwhelmed, with some worried that they won’t be able to get out.

Retired reporter Steve Cliffe, 66, said neighbours in the hamlet of Fernilee were flooded and cut off. ‘The problem is we just can’t get out,’ he said. Fernilee is about 1.5 miles outside Whaley Bridge, up the hill.  

More damage to reservoir could see ‘massive flood’ 

Further damage to a dam which has seen thousands evacuated from their homes over fears it may collapse could lead to ‘massive flooding’, according to an expert.

A wall of a dam at the Toddbrook Reservoir became damaged following flash floods which caused thousands to be evacuated in nearby Whaley Bridge.

An expert from Brunel University in London said the damaged spillway of the dam – designed to release water – could become ‘fully broken’ within hours.

This could lead to ‘massive flooding’ following the heavy rainfall.

Dr Mohammed Heidarzadeh, assistant professor and head of coastal engineering and resilience LAB, said: ‘Due to heavy rainfall in Whaley Bridge area, the spillway is now broken and a big chunk of its concrete structure is damaged.

‘There is a possibility that the spillway could then become fully broken in a few hours. If the spillway is fully gone, the embankment dam will be washed away very rapidly, which could cause a massive flood.’

He added that a similar situation occurred at the Orovill dam in California in February 2017.

However, as long as the core of the reservoir is not damaged, the wall ‘should be okay’, according to another specialist.

‘Within the last few years new valves have been placed in the dam to expedite rapid drawdown in emergencies: presumably, this is happening now,’ said Professor Roderick Smith, from Imperial College London.

The former chief scientific adviser for the Department for Transport said the reservoir previously had ‘issues’ with an inadequate valve system which has seen been replaced.

Severe flooding in South Yorkshire in 2007 sparked the evacuation of roughly 700 people around Ulley Reservoir, near Rotherham, over fears its walls could burst due to unprecedented rain and apparent ‘areas of weakness’.

‘What seems to have happened is that during the real cloud bust, water has come down the main road up above us, and has been siphoned down this lane. It’s never had that quantity come down it before. 

‘It has ripped up the road surface and bedrock underneath, and now there’s rocks and debris deposited all over the place.’ 

But some residents were determined to stay. Andrew McLackland said he would remain in his home, despite his wife and son evacuating, adding: ‘The officers didn’t want to let me back through after I got my son out; my wife picked him up. It’s health and safety gone mad.’ 

Emma Potts, 35, came to check on her 64-year-old mother, and told the Manchester Evening News: ‘My mum won’t go. She’s got two dogs and a cat and doesn’t want to leave them. 

‘A few of her neighbours are in the same boat. She says if it does start to flood she’ll head up the path that runs up the hill next to her house and they said at least she had a plan. Everyone is really worried, especially looking at the river. 

‘But I’ve just read a pub in Chapel is putting on meals for everyone and people are offering to move horses into their fields. Everyone has really pulled together – it’s great to see.’

Anna Aspinall, 36, from Whaley Bridge, said she and others had been called to help place sandbags around the dam, but were sent away after structural engineers advised ‘that the wall is at high risk of failing’.

‘We have had significant rainfall over the past few days resulting in the overflow of the reservoir, which is very rarely breached, being completely flooded over,’ she said. 

‘The result is that the overflow this morning has undermining damage and there is a big risk of the village being flooded out. 

‘Residents are currently being evacuated along with businesses. We are praying (the dam wall) holds whilst the Canal and River Trust try to drain the water from the reservoir. I live at the top of a hill but am very involved in community life, so want to help where I can.’ 

Chapel-en-le-Frith High School was hastily converted into a reception centre for hundreds of residents from Whaley Bridge and a command centre for the police operation as the mass evacuation got under way.

Squads of police officers arrived, with dozens of police Land Rovers and vans arriving and leaving the car park and officers checking equipment in the boots of their vehicles, as locals began to appear with suitcases heading for a sports centre hall where those who could not be housed by friends or family spent the night.

Paul Nash and Janet Williams, a couple from Whaley Bridge, had just arrived at the centre after being told to evacuate at around 1pm yesterday.  

The Toddbrook Reservoir dam, above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, was damaged following heavy rains in the area yesterday

The Toddbrook Reservoir dam, above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, was damaged following heavy rains in the area yesterday

Authorities fear the Toddbrook Reservoir (pictured yesterday) containing 1.3million tonnes of water could start to escape

Authorities fear the Toddbrook Reservoir (pictured yesterday) containing 1.3million tonnes of water could start to escape

Officers said people being evacuated with nowhere to go will be accommodated, but 'there is limited capacity to do so'

Officers said people being evacuated with nowhere to go will be accommodated, but ‘there is limited capacity to do so’

Flooding hit the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire as it was evacuated yesterday due to the threat of the reservoir

Flooding hit the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire as it was evacuated yesterday due to the threat of the reservoir

Police urged residents from the picturesque market town to ensure they took any pets and medication 'for a number of days'

Police urged residents from the picturesque market town to ensure they took any pets and medication ‘for a number of days’

A wall around Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire was damaged yesterday and images show a huge hole in the dam wall

A wall around Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire was damaged yesterday and images show a huge hole in the dam wall

Mr Nash said: ‘The River Goyt is actually behind us, normally it’s 20ft down from our back garden but last night it raised up to nearly 3ft from coming over. We went to work as normal.

How Toddbrook Reservoir has a history of leakage 

According to a 2011 Environment Agency report on national dam incidents, Toddbrook ‘has a history of leakage’. The report outlined details of particular events at the reservoir in 1964 and 1977.

It said the 75m (246ft) long concrete weir was built over the dam wall in 1969 as a response to the 1964 incident when damage was caused to the original slipway channel during heavy rain. This original channel was deemed inadequate.

The report, which catalogued scores of incidents across the country, said that there were complaints about leakage into mine workings from the reservoir from 1880.

It said that in 1930 leakage was observed at the toe of the downstream slope of the wall and a depression was found on the upstream slope which was fixed.

The report said that in November 1975, when the reservoir was low, a depression was noted in the same position on the upstream face.

In autumn 1977, 120mm (4.8in) of subsidence had been measured since 1975 and the reservoir was emptied to allow an inspection of the depression.

The report said this revealed ‘a crater approximately 4m (13ft) across at the upstream toe partly infilled with silt and into which a tree appeared to have been sucked’.

It added that, in 1981, a 1.2m (4m) diameter culvert was found beneath the dam, possibly built for stream diversion during construction, and this formed a leakage path through the dam.

A compacted clay blanket was placed over the suspect area of the wall and the bed of the reservoir. It was refilled in December 1983.

The report said: ‘The good practice of periodic inspection of the upstream face of a dam is illustrated by this incident.’

It said the 24m (78.7ft) high dam wall consists mainly of boulder clay with sands and gravels.

‘Then we found out we needed to evacuate so we’ve been back home, got the cat, got what we needed to and that’s as far as we know at the moment. Bit surprised to be honest, never thought it would happen. 

‘Not sure whether this dam is going to go or not, it’s a bit concerning. At the moment there’s no updates really, no-one knows anything, so we are in the dark really, we’ve not been told we can go back.

‘If the whole dam goes, it’s going to cause absolute chaos. Probably the village will go, because it goes straight through. The River Goyt goes straight through the village centre.

‘They’ve not said when we can go back, we have got to stay away. Everything is in the house we’ve worked for, worked hard for, some things can’t ever be replaced.

‘Obviously the experts are telling us it might go, there’s still a chance it might not. No-one knows when we can go back. 

‘We’ve come down here to check in because they’ve told us if we check in, there’s no chance of them coming to knock the door down to check we are not still there.’

Derbyshire Police yesterday said it was unclear how long the evacuation of Whaley Bridge would last. 

The force tweeted: ‘Please make alternate arrangements to stay with friends/family, ensure that pets and medication that may be needed for a number of days are taken. 

‘If people do not have somewhere to go then they will be accommodated, however there is limited capacity to do so. If you are unable to leave your own home and require assistance, please contact 101 and ask for the police.’ 

The Environment Agency yesterday issued a severe flood warning, suggesting a danger to life, covering the River Goyt at Whaley Bridge. 

It states that the river could ‘rise rapidly’ due to water rushing in from the reservoir. 

As a helicopter hovered above the village, police were going door to door in Whaley Bridge to get everyone out. Going the other way were teams of council workers and mountain rescue vehicles heading into the village.

A photograph of Toddbrook Reservoir in the early 20th century is pictured. It opened in 1831 and feeds the Peak Forest Canal

A photograph of Toddbrook Reservoir in the early 20th century is pictured. It opened in 1831 and feeds the Peak Forest Canal

Todbrook Reservoir sits above the idyllic market town Whaley Bridge and has been a hotspot for families over the years

Todbrook Reservoir sits above the idyllic market town Whaley Bridge and has been a hotspot for families over the years

Memory lane: A peaceful reservoir is pictured in contrast to today where families have been evacuated to a nearby town

Memory lane: A peaceful reservoir is pictured in contrast to today where families have been evacuated to a nearby town

The reservoir is pictured in the past. Homeowners were told yesterday to 'EVACUATE YOUR PROPERTY NOW' by authorities

The reservoir is pictured in the past. Homeowners were told yesterday to ‘EVACUATE YOUR PROPERTY NOW’ by authorities

The Whaley Bridge area is dotted with small bridges and properties in the area sell nowadays for an average of £276,324

The Whaley Bridge area is dotted with small bridges and properties in the area sell nowadays for an average of £276,324

Two people stand and admire the view from The Two Bridges in the town which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest

Two people stand and admire the view from The Two Bridges in the town which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest

The reservoir, opened in 1831, feeds the Peak Forest Canal. This map shows the design of the site as it was in 1889

The reservoir, opened in 1831, feeds the Peak Forest Canal. This map shows the design of the site as it was in 1889

Dragging a suitcase up the deserted high street, local David Holt said: ‘Police are knocking on, evacuating everyone within risk of that dam wall breaking. If it’s going to go, it’s going to go straight through the village. 

Protecting core of dam wall is ‘key to the operation’ at reservoir 

Protecting the core of the 180-year-old Toddbrook Reservoir dam wall is vital to its survival, according to engineers who worked through the night to stabilise the structure.

The reservoir was built in 1831 using a method common to scores of other across the Pennines, with a puddled clay core supported by thousands of tonnes of earth.

Julie Sharman, chief operating officer of the Canal and River Trust, said the focus of the massive operation at the reservoir is to reduce pressure on the core and replace the load on it which was lost when the material above it was washed away.

She said this was being done using one-tonne bags of gravel lifted into place by an RAF Chinook.

Ms Sharman said: ‘It is a critical situation at this point in time. And until we’re beyond that critical situation, the risk is a material risk and that’s why we’ve taken the action we have. It is good news that overnight we’ve reduced the level by 200mm.

‘Most of the evening the inflows were almost equalling the outflows on the pumping system and on the weir but, this morning, the inflows have reduced considerably, which should accelerate the reduction of the water levels in the reservoir and additional pumping is being installed now.’

Ms Sharman said protecting the clay core is the key to the operation.

She said: ‘It’s currently intact but part of the reason we’re doing the loading exercise – ie dropping the one-tonne bags on to the front face of the dam – is to reinstate the loading that would have been provided by the material that’s been taken away through the erosion of those slabs.’

‘We’re in a critical condition so this is really important, this next phase, in order to stabilise the dam. So the combination of that loading and sealing and then lowering the reservoir water level is all designed to keep the clay core intact.’

Ms Sharman said three reservoir engineers are working on site at any one time in shifts and are using a drone to monitor the dam wall.

The reservoir is owned by the Canal and River Trust because it was built to feed the nearby Peak Forest Canal rather than to supply drinking water.

Most of the water comes from the Todd Brook, which enters the reservoir on the north bank, although some of the water is diverted along a culvert.

The original dam slipway was damaged by storms in 1964. According to some reports, the concrete spillway over the dam wall is a 1970s addition.

Ms Sharman said she did not want to speculate on what caused the damage to the wall. She said: ‘At this point in time I’m not going speculate on exactly what’s caused the failure. We can see what we can see. A full investigation has got to be the next phase.’

‘Police are asking you to gather some belongings, leave your house in a secure condition and go to a local school. We’ve taken an elderly neighbour to a friend’s house and are heading to the school now.’

Author Hanna Sillitoe lives in Buxworth, downstream from Whaley Bridge, in a hamlet called Waterside. She has not been evacuated yet. She said: ‘The river had massively come up yesterday, almost to the house. 

‘But it had receded again this morning, so we thought the rains had calmed and everything had got better. But then there were fish in the garden and a lot of damage – the fences were down, trees were down, they’d been dragged down by the river.

‘The river is still flowing at a fast pace but nowhere near what it was like yesterday. The worry is if that dam goes it feeds the river, which is not built to take that level of water. So, I am moving all the important stuff upstairs.’

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had a ‘large number’ of vehicles at Toddbrook Reservoir as efforts continued to prevent the dam from bursting.

Matt Forrest, lives just six feet uphill from the reservoir and has watched the chaos unfold in his home town. 

The designer said: ‘We live about six feet up from the reservoir so we have managed to dodge being evacuated but only just. 

‘The rest of the entire town has had to leave. I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s the worst flooding in living memory in the village.’

Trauma nurse Philomena Smith, 53, lives on a road above the reservoir. 

She said: ‘Many Whaley Bridge residents who were on the bridge yesterday looking over the dam said they have lived here all their lives and never seen anything like this.

‘If the dam overflows it will join the River Goyt and be a disaster. Even last night many houses had started to place sandbags up against their doors.

‘Today the bridge is now closed and the concrete has broken away – the whole village has been evacuated and Whaley Bridge is completely closed off due to the high risk of the dam collapsing. My husband is working in Buxton but may not be able to get home tonight.’

A nearby tourist attraction to Whaley Bridge is the Ladybower Reservoir and the rarely seen abandoned village of Derwent which was flooded in the 1940s to make way for the site. 

Severe flooding in South Yorkshire in 2007 sparked the evacuation of roughly 700 people around Ulley Reservoir, near Rotherham, over fears its walls could burst due to unprecedented rain and apparent ‘areas of weakness’. 

Forecaster Luke Miall said showers in the area had eased overnight, though there was a possibility of rain later in the day. 

He added: ‘There is still a risk of showers breaking out in the afternoon, but it’s a predominantly dry picture for Friday.’ Sporadic rain was also likely in north west Scotland and south west England. 

The overnight ghost town: Eerie images reveal the silent streets and soulless shops of Peak District community that fled over fears of crumbling dam

  • Whaley Bridge is normally a bustling Derbyshire town that attracts hoardes of tourists for the Peak District
  • But 1,000 residents have now been evacuated by police over concerns reservoir could deluge their area
  • RAF Chinook delivers sandbags at Toddbrook Reservoir dam which is feared to be on verge of collapse

With a population of 6,500, the picturesque location of Whaley Bridge is normally a bustling town that attracts hoardes of tourists looking to enjoy to the beauty of the Peak District.

But this quaint area of Derbyshire was strangely quiet today, save for the noise of an RAF Chinook helicopter delivering sandbags to try to avert disaster at the Toddbrook Reservoir dam feared to be on the verge of collapse. 

Some 1,000 residents have now been evacuated by police over concerns their area could be deluged, although 40-year-old resident Hanna Sillitoe ignored the calls to leave and described the atmosphere in the area as ‘eerie’.

The streets of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire has been left eerily quiet today after the town was evacuated by police yesterday

The streets of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire has been left eerily quiet today after the town was evacuated by police yesterday

The empty streets of Whaley Bridge are pictured in this drone image today following an evacuation of the town by officers

The empty streets of Whaley Bridge are pictured in this drone image today following an evacuation of the town by officers

Two police cars on patrol in Whaley Bridge after serious damage to Toddbrook Reservoir was caused by heavy rainfall

Two police cars on patrol in Whaley Bridge after serious damage to Toddbrook Reservoir was caused by heavy rainfall

She filmed the village while out running early this morning – sharing a video to Twitter which shows its streets empty and silent. She said: ‘It feels eerie here, because in every other sense it’s a completely ordinary Friday.

‘The weather is beautiful, the sun is shining… and then a great big Chinook flies over the house and the stark reality of what’s happening upstream hits us again.’

The author said she heard the RAF Chinook sent to help emergency efforts in stabilising the dam at Toddbrook with sandbags flying overhead at 5am – later running along the canal, her usual jogging route, to investigate.

Despite expecting cordons, Ms Sillitoe – who lives about a mile away but downstream from the village – said there were none and she did not have to turn back, continuing on to Whaley Bridge.

Ms Sillitoe said she and other residents of her hamlet were given ‘conflicting advice’, with police advising evacuation but Government flood warning information suggesting they were safe.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge over fears the dam could rupture

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge over fears the dam could rupture 

Around 1,000 people were evacuated from the town but most found their own accommodation with family and friends

Around 1,000 people were evacuated from the town but most found their own accommodation with family and friends 

The empy streets of the town of Whaley Bridge which has been evacuated due to its proximity to the Toddbrook Reservoir

The empy streets of the town of Whaley Bridge which has been evacuated due to its proximity to the Toddbrook Reservoir

The reservoir dam feared to be on the verge of collapse is facing a 'critical' moment as the military work to stop it bursting

The reservoir dam feared to be on the verge of collapse is facing a ‘critical’ moment as the military work to stop it bursting

‘We have livestock and horses here,’ she said. Our personal decision at present is to stay. If the dam goes, my cottage is in the firing line down river – we already had bad floods on Wednesday but the water has since subsided. What will be will be.’

Ms Sillitoe added her ‘thoughts are with those directly under the dam’.

Brian Stanway, whose fireplace and woodburner business is in the middle of Whaley Bridge, said he has ‘no time frame whatsoever’ about when he will be able to return to open the business.

‘We just hope that everyone’s safe, that’s the main thing, and that people have their homes to go back to,’ he said. It’s a lovely town with a great local community and local spirit.’

The empy streets of the town of Whaley Bridge, with residents having been moved to nearby Chapel en le Frith and Buxton

The empy streets of the town of Whaley Bridge, with residents having been moved to nearby Chapel en le Frith and Buxton

Hanna Sillitoe filmed the village, evacuated due to a nearby dam at risk of bursting, while out running early this morning

Hanna Sillitoe filmed the village, evacuated due to a nearby dam at risk of bursting, while out running early this morning

Resident Ms Sillitoe shared a video to Twitter this morning which shows the streets of Whaley Bridge empty and silent

Resident Ms Sillitoe shared a video to Twitter this morning which shows the streets of Whaley Bridge empty and silent

The resident said she heard the RAF Chinook sent to help emergency efforts in stabilising the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir

The resident said she heard the RAF Chinook sent to help emergency efforts in stabilising the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir

Asked whether he ever had fears about the dam, Mr Stanway said: ‘It’s always been on my mind a little bit because of the repairs that were done about 30 years ago. It has crossed my mind. But it looks so solid.’

Water flowing into Toddbrook was ‘reduced considerably’ overnight but engineers remain ‘very concerned’ about the integrity of the damaged 180-year-old structure, which contains around 1.3 million tonnes of water.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from Whaley Bridge over fears it could rupture and flood their homes. 

An RAF Chinook and firefighters using high-volume pumps appear to have partly stabilised the ‘unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation’ caused by heavy rain.

A lack of bread on the shelves at Co-op supermarket in Whaley Bridge with roads shut off for deliveries

A lack of bread on the shelves at Co-op supermarket in Whaley Bridge with roads shut off for deliveries

Engineers were scrambled to Toddbrook Reservoir and local residents were evacuated after part of a dam wall collapsed

Engineers were scrambled to Toddbrook Reservoir and local residents were evacuated after part of a dam wall collapsed

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to Derbyshire today after the dam at the reservoir was damaged by heavy rainfall

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to Derbyshire today after the dam at the reservoir was damaged by heavy rainfall

The Chinook has been dropping one-ton sandbags on to the damaged area to bolster the structure. Improving weather and work on the inflows means the amount of water entering the reservoir has also reduced. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said ‘first responders, engineers and RAF crews are working around the clock to fix the dam’ and he has ordered a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee to discuss the situation.  

The reservoir is on the north-west edge of the Peak District National Park and was built in 1831, according to experts, although the Environment Agency record it as being built in 1840-41.

According to a 2011 Environment Agency report on national dam incidents, Toddbrook ‘has a history of leakage’.

Stately home famous for Colin Firth’s Pride and Prejudice lake scene is evacuated as devastating flooding sweeps away huge swathes of the 600-year-old manor’s 17-acre gardens

A 600-year-old stately home made famous by Colin Firth’s Pride and Prejudice walk out of a lake in soaking wet clothes was evacuated after ‘devastating’ flooding swept away parts of its historic gardens and threatened ‘priceless’ artefacts. 

Lyme Park, near Stockport, in Cheshire, was evacuated on Wednesday afternoon after days of rain across the region which saw an Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter drafted in today to stop a reservoir collapsing in nearby Whaley Bridge.

Staff at the historic grade-II listed home, which doubled as love interest Mr Darcy’s home Pemberley in the BBC‘s 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, worked through the night to save its antiques and unique interiors, including the 15th Century Sarum Missal, said to be the Trust’s most treasured book. 

The 17-acre gardens, which host the reflection lake – where Firth’s Mr Darcy emerged from the water in front of Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth Bennett while wearing a soaking wet shirt – bore some of the worst damage, the Manchester Evening News reported

Paths, fences and numerous areas of planting were washed away by the force of the waters, with some plants carried nearly a quarter of a mile. 

Lyme Park, near Stockport, Cheshire, which was made famous by Colin Firth's Pride and Prejudice walk out of a lake in soaking wet clothes, was evacuated yesterday after 'devastating' flooding swept away parts of its historic gardens and threatened 'priceless' artefacts

Lyme Park, near Stockport, Cheshire, which was made famous by Colin Firth’s Pride and Prejudice walk out of a lake in soaking wet clothes, was evacuated yesterday after ‘devastating’ flooding swept away parts of its historic gardens and threatened ‘priceless’ artefacts

The 17-acre gardens, which host the reflection lake - where Firth's Mr Darcy emerged from the water in front of Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth Bennett while wearing a soaking wet shirt - bore some of the worst damage. Paths (pictured above), fences and numerous areas of planting were washed away by the force of the waters, with some plants carried nearly a quarter of a mile

The 17-acre gardens, which host the reflection lake – where Firth’s Mr Darcy emerged from the water in front of Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth Bennett while wearing a soaking wet shirt – bore some of the worst damage. Paths (pictured above), fences and numerous areas of planting were washed away by the force of the waters, with some plants carried nearly a quarter of a mile

The lake itself, which was pictured after it had overflowed, was also damaged.  

A video filmed yesterday showed a torrent of brown water cascading down the main stone steps and flooding the vast lawns either side. 

Some visitors had to be rescued by the home’s rangers after becoming separated from their cars by floodwaters, it was reported.  

The home was originally built as a hunting lodge and was later transformed into a family home. 

It has undergone extensive alterations since being built in the 1400s and has been owned by the same family, the Leghs, for nearly 600 years. 

Artefacts on display at the home include the Mortlake tapestries, the finest clock collection in the National Trust, and the Sarum Missal.   

The book, commonplace in early modern England, is a handwritten text of the Catholic mass.

The version at Lyme House, printed in 1487 by William Caxton in Paris, is the only surviving copy and is largely intact.    

National Trust staff and conservation specialists were at the home yesterday assessing the extent of the damage to buildings, paths and roads. 

Car parks and some of the grounds were still underwater yesterday. 

Inside the home, work started on cleaning up debris and mud left by the water.

Some visitors had to be rescued by the home's rangers after becoming separated from their cars by floodwaters, it was reported. Above: The damage caused to areas of the car park by the raging floodwater

Some visitors had to be rescued by the home’s rangers after becoming separated from their cars by floodwaters, it was reported. Above: The damage caused to areas of the car park by the raging floodwater

National Trust staff and conservation specialists were at the home yesterday assessing the extent of the damage to buildings, paths and roads. A video filmed in the gardens of the home yesterday showed water cascading down steps

National Trust staff and conservation specialists were at the home yesterday assessing the extent of the damage to buildings, paths and roads. A video filmed in the gardens of the home yesterday showed water cascading down steps

Lyme Park’s lead ranger told the Manchester Evening News after the home was closed to the public that he was ‘unable’ to say when it might reopen. 

He said there was ‘widespread and extensive’ damage to paths and roads around the home, especially around streams and ponds which overflowed.  

‘We’ve taken the decision to remain closed to ensure we don’t put any members of the public at risk, and so that we can start the repair work,’ he said. 

Colin Firth, who played Mr Darcy in the BBC's 1995 production of Jane Austen's iconic novel, famously walked out of the home's reflection lake in a soaking wet white shirt while Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth Bennett watched on

Colin Firth, who played Mr Darcy in the BBC’s 1995 production of Jane Austen’s iconic novel, famously walked out of the home’s reflection lake in a soaking wet white shirt while Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth Bennett watched on

Lyme Park, pictured behind Firth and Ehle as they pose next to each other while in character as Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, doubled up as Mr Darcy's Pemberley in the BBC's TV adaption

Lyme Park, pictured behind Firth and Ehle as they pose next to each other while in character as Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, doubled up as Mr Darcy’s Pemberley in the BBC’s TV adaption

‘It’s devastating when we see the place we work so hard to look after impacted in this way.’  

Today, the Royal Air Force were forced to intervene with a Chinook helicopter to try to stop Toddbrook reservoir, in Derbyshire, from collapsing after it was ‘badly’ damaged during heavy rain and police urged up to 6,500 inhabitants in the nearby town of Whaley Bridge to immediately flee.  

Residents spent the night away from their homes during what police described as ‘an unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation’ caused by five days of downpours.

Lyme Park, in Stockport, Cheshire, was built in the 1400s and has been owned by the same family for nearly 600 years

Lyme Park, in Stockport, Cheshire, was built in the 1400s and has been owned by the same family for nearly 600 years

Emergency service workers were scrambling to save the 19th century dam which could be set to burst any minute, with teams laying sandbags to prevent the water breaking through and wiping out the picturesque town.

Officers spent hours going door-to-door around homes in the Derbyshire village, as residents fled the area in case the 1.3million tonnes of water contained in the huge Georgian-era Toddbrook Reservoir starts to escape.

The Environment Agency issued a severe ‘danger to life’ flood warning after 82.8mm (3in) of rain fell on the hills above Whaley Bridge in 48 hours up to yesterday afternoon, the equivalent of a month’s worth of rain.

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge this morning

The reservoir, which contains 1.3 million tonnes of water, has seen ‘extensive’ damage from flooding including a huge hole in the dam wall – with the helicopter sent from RAF Odiham in Hampshire to assist emergency efforts. 

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the Chinook would ‘drop one-ton bags of aggregate – a mixture of sand, gravel and stone – into Todd Brook. This is intended to stem the flow of water into the reservoir.’

Videos shared by Shirebrook Fire Station showed the Chinook laden with the aggregate as it flew above the area and hovered above the the dam wall. Police said 400 tonnes of aggregate would be brought by the RAF.  

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