History of GWC

where it all began

We have a lot of archives about Grafham but we've condensed it to give you the history you need!

156- 165 million years ago

It was characterized by a warm, wet climate that gave rise to lush vegetation and abundant life. Many new dinosaurs emerged in great numbers

dinosaur work up
map of clay uk

Map of oxford clay formation - showing how rare and scarce it is in the UK

2-3 million years ago

Formation of Oxford Clay

Jurassic Period

Oxford Clay Foundations of Grafham - Oxford clay gives perfect conditions for fossils to be preserved

Alluvium Clay

Was made 2-3 million years ago found by running water


Mixture of mud and sand created by glaciers



The village next to Grafham along the A1 has a lot of history and is mentioned in the original Doomsday Book 1086 as Bugedene and was known for trade.

Buckden is home to the historic landmark - Buckden Towers

buckden towers
king henry the 8th

1530-1534 The Tudors

History of the area surrounding Grafham Water Centre dates all the way back to 1530 where King Henry VIII made us very well known

Henry VIII married Katherine of Aragon and divorced her and confined her to Buckden towers. She stayed in Buckden towers before moving to Kimbolton castle 5 miles North from Buckden Towers.

She was later sadly died from poor health at Kimbolton Castle

1805-1950 reservoir

The reservoir wasn't always here and construction did not begin until 1960.

From this map from 1805-1835 you can see the different villages that were here originally.

The more recent coloured map is from 1950 before the reservoir was built.

Redhill, Lymage, Glebe, Valley and Rectory farms were all knocked down during the creation of the reservoir. These can be seen on both of these early maps. (photos of old farms to be added)

These are now the names of our lounge spaces - Find your lounge on the map!

old map of grafham
1960 map of grafham
grafham reservoir being built

1960- 1965 building

The reservoir begun construction in 1960 and was completed in 1965 after many delays due to the lack of skilled workers.

The reservoir supplies drinking water to Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and parts of Cambridgeshire.

 It is 21 Metres deep and 16km wide which makes it the 8th largest in the UK. Water is pumped in from the Great River Oose through piping system that runs underneath the dam wall.

Anglian Water Archive Video

2011 - shimp invasion

Only and first site in England to be invaded by the killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus)

Don't worry, it lives in a wide range of habitats and will prey on many other animals (but not humans)

You can see these during the summer months during your visits to Grafham but they're completely harmless!



killer shrimp
grafham very old logo
grafham 2000's logo
grafham logo 2024


Grafham Water Residential Centre opens as part of local council!

We have changed a lot over the years with new experiences, expanding our site and opportunities for all! 

We have been providing outdoor education to schools and running courses for the past 54 years!

Find our testimonials here