Abbeydale Works was once the biggest water-powered industrial site on the River Sheaf.
During the early years of the site’s history the dam consisted merely of a long narrow goit channelling the water from the river to the waterwheel(s) at the back of the buildings.
Around 1777, the Goddard Family as current tenants enlarged the dam to half its present size. After the building of the Tilt Shop in 1785, a further enlargement took place when a total area of 5 acres was flooded reflecting the greater capacity required to run the 18ft diameter wheels.
The dam at present is about 4 acres, one acre having been lost at the top end where silt cleaned out from the working end was dumped. This lost acre now forms the basis of the richly fertile soil of Beauchief Gardens. The depth of the dam varies considerably in different places, from as low as 3ft to over 21ft at its deepest point immediate behind the overspill. Water, falling more than 20ft from the dam before returning to the river via the tail goit in front of the Managers House provided the free power for the complex.