Dam good photo scoops top prize in Welsh competition

The picture of Claerwyn Dam won the first prize for its impact, creativity and showcasing of civil engineering at its best in Wales.

The winning photo of Claerwen Dam. Image credit: Jack James
The winning photo of Claerwen Dam. Image credit: Jack James

A striking image of Claerwen Dam in Powys has been crowned winner of ICE Wales Cymru’s annual photographic competition.

A record number of photographs were entered into the competition, the theme of which this year was ‘Doorstep Discoveries’.

The picture of the dam won the public vote for its effective use of light and space. It was taken by graduate engineer Jack James, from Mott MacDonald, and depicts water falling over the dam, using an onlooker to help demonstrate the sheer size of the construction.

Claerwen Dam


“I’ve always appreciated the dams throughout Elan Valley and hiked around the area many times.  However, it’s not often you get the opportunity to witness the dams overflowing so I knew I was on to something special on this particular occasion,” he said.

“With a bit of persuasion, my friend very kindly volunteered to stand close to the dam which helps to give anyone looking at the image a true sense of Claerwen Dam’s size and scale.”

Claerwen reservoir and dam history

The Claerwen reservoir and dam were the last additions to the Elan Valley Reservoirs system built to provide water for the increasing water demand of Birmingham and the West Midlands.

The dam took six years to complete and was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. It’s a gravity dam built mainly of concrete on a solid rock foundation with an exterior dam face of dressed stone. It almost twice the size of the other dams in the Elan valley.

Other winners

The second prize was given to Victor Turner for his image of the Menai Bridge, and third place was a photograph of Old Colwyn by Topac Oguzhan.

The winner of Heritage Award was a photo of Craig Goch Dam, taken by Lydia Morris.

Menai Suspension Bridge
Menai Bridge in second place. Image credit: Victor Turner

Works at Old ColwynOld Colwyn in third place. Image credit: Topac Oguzhan

Craig Goch Dam

Heritage Award winner, Craig Goch Dam. Image credit: Lydia Morris

All shortlisted photos and a virtual gallery of all entries are available to view on the ICE website.

Details of next year’s competition will be announced during the start of 2022.