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Dam society holds 18th biennial conference

A visit to Ben Crom Dam, the upper reservoir of the Silent Valley Dam in Northern Ireland, was part of a tour of dams and control structures organised for delegates of the British Dam Society’s 18th biennial conference which was held at Queen’s University in Belfast last month.

The concrete gravity dam constructed between 1953 and 1957 was designed by Binnie & Partners, stands 42.25m high and is 210m wide. Attendees also heard from Philip Donald who expanded on his 2012 ICE paper The Silent Valley dam, setting the record straight.

The 2014 conference, with the theme of “Maintaining the Safety of our Dams and Reservoirs” was the most successful to date - hosting a record 240 delegates.

Thirty papers were presented during the conference, and attendees heard the prestigious Geoffrey Binnie lecture on the heritage of dams in Northern Ireland, delivered by Alan Cooper at the Titanic Museum.

Other speakers included ICE President Geoff French and ICE past president David Orr.

Delegates also walked beneath the Lagan Weir in Belfast.

The weir is a series of huge steel barriers which are raised as the tide retreats to keep the river at an artificially constant level.

BDS chairman, Ian Hope, said “It quickly became evident that the heritage and history of Belfast is fantastic.

The dam and control structures we visited were also fascinating - an essential sight for dam engineers.”

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