This film is part of Free


Two young men and a dog venture into the mud of Caban Coch reservoir. Two ponies commune with a motorist on a stretch of moorland road.

Home movie 1976 4 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


The heat of the 1976 summer lowers the levels of Caban Coch Reservoir in the Elan Valley and the submerged garden walls of Nantgwyllt mansion are revealed, as they were also in 1937 and 1947. Brothers Chris and Clive Powell, who had recently moved to Blaencwm farm, Llanwrthwl, and their fearless dog, Spark, brave the mud and explore the area where the house once stood. It was home to poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his young wife Harriet Westbrook for a few short months in 1812.

Caban Coch was the first of the 4 Elan Valley dams, work starting in 1894 to provide water for Birmingham. Shelley (1792-1822) was engaged for a short time to Harriet Grove, a relative of his uncle Thomas Grove who lived at Cwm Elan (another mansion that would be drowned as a result of the dam-building programme). However, when 19-year old Shelley visited Cwm Elan in 1811, he was in love with 16-year old Harriet Westbrook of London, with whom he soon eloped. They set up home at Nantgwyllt which they hoped to buy but their plans fell through. Before long, Shelley abandoned his young wife in favour of Mary Godwin and Harriet drowned herself in London’s Serpentine lake in 1816. Shelley drowned in Italy a few years later.