Briseis Dam Disaster

The Briseis Dam Disaster resulted from the bursting of a dam constructed on the Cascade River above Derby to supply water for hydraulic tin mining operations. Following unprecedented rainfall of 450 millimetres during the previous two days, on 4 April 1929 a deluge of 125 millimetres fell in one and a half hours on the catchment area above the Briseis Dam.

The resultant flood broke the dam, and a huge wall of water surged down the river valley towards the town, engulfing several houses and other buildings and pouring into the workings of the Briseis Mine. Fourteen lives were lost, including one family of five who were sitting down to a meal when their home was carried away. Senior Constable William Taylor was awarded the Royal Humane Society Medal and the King George Medal for bravery in saving eight stranded miners.

Further reading: J Beswick, Brothers' Home, Gravelly Beac, 2003.

John Beswick