The Harvey's Lake Story
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Most of Aberafan Residents Know where the lake we called Harvey's was situated but some of the story's of this lake are misleading,

The story as we know it. tells that George Harvey left the sea to help his father Frederick who had thought up the idea of the lake and to help to dig the crater and then filled it with water allowing the river avon to flow into the lake doing the job of filling the lake to the required depth.

In 1904 Frederick Harvey came to Aberafan to Build a lake he hoped would be as popular as the Roath park lake in Cardiff. That was the first time Frederick Harvey came to Aberafan his son George was a seaman and he left the sea to help his father with this mammoth task, we are all more familier with the son of George " Clive Harvey," the contractor that was so prominant in the demolision of the town centre and transporting away the rubble of the old town, it was he that gave this account of Harvey's Lake that we are familier with, but according to records freely available this was not entirly accurate,

Allen Blethyn has to take credit for the research undertaken to find the true facts.

Originally on the site of Harvey's Lake was a placed called the Sinking Pool this has the same boundaries as Harvey;s lake so we can take it as fact by looking at the map of the area drawn before Harvey's lake was even thought of.. In a town council meeting it was suggested that the area known as the sinking pool could be turned into a boating pool for the benifit of Aberafan residents.

below is the information that Allen in his research uncovered here is his account of that research.

For as long as I can remember, the area of land which came into view from the top of Beach Hill on the left to the sea side, was called Harvey`s Lake.
Mr. Brian Jones  in his book  Port Talbot .A Gallery of Past Personalities Vol 1. tells
us the story of George Harvey [1887-1965]. based upon disscusions with son Clive Harvey.
It tells us how a young George Harvey came with his father Frederick, a Cardiff
man,to Port Talbot in 1904. They purchased an area of lowlaying marsh land near the new gasworks site.
Planning permission was granted and excavation work was began, and water to fill was channelled from the nearby River Afan.
He tells us that the lake was opened in 1909.
The above story interested me greatly, and so I decided to look into it futher,I went to the Swansea Archives to examine the Aberavon Borough Minutes.1897-1914, my findings leads me to the following account of the origin of the said lake.

Before 1835 at which date the new Port Talbot Docks were built, the river Afan did not pass futher towards the sea than the Newbridge Road Bridge, instead it flowed nearly at right angles to the east to enter the sea at a point near Taibach.

The whole shape of the river below the town of Aberavon resembled the fingers of a hand, spread out, the most easterly finger at Taibach being the reknown Betsy Pool and the most westerly finger at the Aberavon gasworks site, both the above descriptions are visable on maps previous to 1894 when more alterations were made to the docks.

Later the council was in the process of building Newbridge Road Bridge and a letter dated 12th.April 1904 from the Port Talbot Railway and Docks Co. shows the land needed for this bridge, and shows the lake boundary and gasworks, the lake on this early plan being displayed names the area of the lake as "The Sinking Pool".

At a council meeting in 1908 councillor David Williams proposed that arrangments should be made to have pleasure boats placed on Victoria Lake during the summer months, and that the owner of the land between the lake and Victoria road be invited to present this land to the town for the making of ornamental gardens.
[ End of Allens account.]

It is interesting to note that councilors have named the Lake as "Victoria Lake" there is no mention of Harvey and that it was a council proposal to place boats on the said lake

The owner of the said land between the lake and Victoria Road was Sir Arthur P Vivian it is recorded the he duly presented this land to the council but we do not know whether the ornamental gardens were ever built but in the record of the transfer of land no mention is made of Harvey.

In a report of the council published in the Western Mail Friday 30 October 1903

Up to the present date the only means of access to Port Talbot Docks was by means of a narrow roadway kept in a wretched state of repair, and not wide enough to enable two vehicles to pass one another. The Aberavon Corporation, with a view to developing the lower part of the town, and also with the idea of connecting the Port Talbot Docks [which are in the borough of Aberavon] with the town, deemed it advisable to proceed with the construction of a new road leading from Jubilee-road to the river Afon, and then to span the river by means of an iron girder bridge. A provisional order was optained for the construction of the road and bridge in 1899 to cost £12000 and the work was completed on Saturday last. The corporation invited Sir Arthur Vivian, K.C.B. [ who kindly gave the necessary land for the road and bridge] to open the road and bridge to the public.
The bridge is built on the tidal portion of the river Afon. The H.W.M.S.T. is within 4ft. of the under side of the girders. The total length of the bridge is 340ft. made up of three spans. The riers and abatements are of local stone, built on concrete, supported by piles driven down 28ft. below the bed of the river.From the bed of the river to the top of the piers the height is 20ft. The pillar and cutwater caps are of granite. The super-structure is composed of six steel box girders and 40 cross girders rivetted and bolted to the box girders.
The flooring is composed of steel curved plates rivetted to cross girders, covered with concrete, and finished with a layer of asphalte.
The road from Victoria road to the bridge is 420 yards in length. A portion of the road is made through a pool, with an embankment 16ft in height. The carriageway is made of 9ins. bottom ballast and 6ins. limestone metalling. The engineer for the road and bridge was Mr. J.Roderick, borough surveyor. The contractors for the masonry were
Messrs. Clarke and Co. Cardiff, and the contractors for the steel work only, Messrs. Gilbert Thompson and Co. Birmingham. The road was made by the corporation under the supervision of their surveyor.

Again it is interesting to note the proposal for the bridge and the road was in 1899 and it was finished in 1903 but again no mention of Harvey but the report states that the road had to cross a pool. to have an embankment of 16 feet it must have been a sizable pool, the mention of Jubilee road is also interesting as this was the previous name of Victoria Road both names derived from the reign of Queen Victoria

With this information it is easy for us to understand that a large area of water existed on the site that was to become known as Harvey's Lake the original names from the early to late 1800's"The Sinking Pool" that was also called "Victoria Lake" were on town council maps within these dates and also the maps show the boundery of the lake it corrosponds to the boundary we know as Harvey's lake.

It was in 1908 that the council proposed to put boats on the lake again no mention of Harvey this puts into doubt that Frederick and George Harvey actually excavated the lake but we all know that at some point in the lakes history it was owned or leased by the Harvey family, a referance is made to the ownership or lease by the Harvey familyof the lake in that the new housing on the site is named Harvey Crescent

The lake was filled in by another local legend Dick Barry this was in 1952, Dick was the father of Tom Barry of Talbot Block Fame, the infill for the lake was said to be the sand from the area of the little warren, the huge sand dunes being cleared for the start of house building in the area.