North side of the Aswan Dam, Egypt, during construction, July 1900.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph by D S George. In the late 19th century, the growth of population and agricultural production in the lower Nile Valley led to the decision to build a dam acros the river at Aswan. This would better control the masive annual Nile floods for irrigation as well as providing the posibility of hydro-electric power for industry. The dam was constructed by the British with some of the foremost engineers of the period, including Sir William Willcocks, Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir John Aird involved in the project. Construction was completed in 1902, but the dam's height was further raised in 1907-1912 and 1929-1934. Even after this the dam ultimately proved inadequate for its purpose, leading to the building of the much larger Aswan High Dam in the 1960s.