Using drones to digitally preserve the past at Toddbrook Reservoir

Photo high over Toddbrook reservoir © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
3D digital capture from high over Toddbrook reservoir © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
The ARS team operating the drone © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022

ARS Ltd has recently been involved in the heritage surveying and recording of the much-loved Toddbrook Reservoir and dam. The dam is perhaps best known for its appearance in the national news during the summer of 2019 with the residents of the nearby town of Whaley Bridge having to be evacuated. It is also remembered for the striking images showing RAF helicopters dropping sandbags onto a damaged section of spillway.

We were commissioned by the Canal & River Trust to undertake a detailed drone survey of the Toddbrook dam prior to significant work to install a new spillway. The new spillway will fulfil the requirements of reservoir safety needed for the reservoir to be refilled and returned to normal use.

Using a sophisticated drone-mounted laser scanner and camera we created a highly detailed ‘digital clone’ of the dam and its surrounding area which shows the site before it began to be transformed. Aside from the dam, important structural details such as the two impressive 19th century valve houses can be seen in the model, as well as the original spillways and by-wash channels.

While the ongoing work to install a replacement spillway will ensure the safety of the reservoir for years to come, many of these original features will become hidden and inaccessible to the public. The creation of a digital replica of the site not only ensures that an accurate and detailed 3D record of the original dam will be archived for posterity, but also allows for the creation of exciting products such as interactive digital 3D models and scaled 3D printed models that can be used for public outreach.

> Learn more about our market-leading drone surveys here

Archaeological Research Services Ltd