Day 3 Compressing the first layer of clay. Note the water level control pipe
Day11 Moving and leveling top soil
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Day 8 Hammering posts to latter attach the water level pipe and jetty
© 2007 to 2017   S.E.Reddock, M.Sc., C.Eng.
Spring Time Jetty complete and hole is filling with water
Construction of the Stenhill Lake

Several of the low lying fields at Stenhill in the beautiful south west of England were wet and boggy and of little agricultural value.The underlying earth was heavy clay and free of rock which were ideal conditions for the construction of a lake. One of these, a gently sloping field adjacent to the main house was chosen for the site of the Stenhill Lake. The three acre field was surrounded by sufficient pasture land at higher levels to provide a good and constant source of water without diverting any existing watercourse. Land at a lower level with an outlet to an existing stream assured that the heavy Autumn and Winter rains did not cause the lake to overflow. The heavy clay land did not need any paddling (sealing) to ensure a watertight base and had a good covering a dark top soil. No plastic liner or other synthetic material was used in the construction of the Lake.

The first operation was to dig a shallow trench through the area were the lake was to be to allow rain water to flow straight through while the construction work proceeded.

The dark topsoil was then removed and placed in piles near the working area for later use.

The construction of the dam was perhaps the most skillful task in the whole project. Firstly the top soil and all vegetation which could rot and leave a channel were removed from the dam area.

Next a 6 inch diameter plastic pipe was laid on the earth beneath were the dam was to be to control the height of the water in the lake. The pipe could also be used to empty the lake if needed.

A 2 to 3 inches thick layer of clay was then laid and compressed by the metal tracks of the the swing shovel (excavator) by driving the vehicle over it several times. Further layers were laid and compressed until the 15 foot high dam was built. As a precaution against damage to the dam in times of freak heavy rain and flooding a 18 inch diameter plastic pipe was laid approximately at the dam mid point and about 6 inches below the top of the dam. The bottom of this overflow pipe was about 12 inches above the planned 12 foot water depth at the dam.

The low rainfall month of August was chosen for the construction and by the third day the dam was complete and the start of the hole that would form the lake was evident.

The clay that was removed to create the hole was placed downstream of the dam which strengthened and generally backed up the dam.

The top soil removed initially from the site was laid on top of the dam and lake edges and seeded with grass

By the end of the tenth day the construction of the lake, supports for both the water level pipe and a boating jetty were complete.

Over the following month the jetty was built using decking board laid on 10 inch deep beams.The beams were supported at eight foot centres by recycled telegraph poles.

The lake filled over the winter and spring months

© 2007-2016 S.E.Reddock, M.Sc., C.Eng.


Aerial View The lake is top and right of middle
Day 7 The hole gets bigger
Day 6 Digging the hole continues
Day4 Dam construction continues
Day 5 Digging the hole commences
Day 10 Moving more clay to the back of the dam
Day 9 Moving clay to back of dam
Day 13 Construction of the lake is complete
Day 1 Digging a shallow trench
Sketch showing the construction principal
Day 2 Top soil removed
Day 12 Water level control pipe installed