The Upper Valley of the Derwent in Derbyshire, (just off the A57 halfway between Glossop and Sheffield) is a deep valley
dominated by three great reservoirs, Ladybower, Howden and Derwent , known
collectively as the " Peakland Lake District".
The upper two dams, Howden and Derwent, were
constructed by Derwent Valley Water Board to provide
drinking water for the cities of the north and east Midlands, built between 1901 and 1916, they
were such a large undertaking that a village called Birchinlee was built in the upper valley to house the workers and
a narrow-gauge railway was built between Howden Dam and the Midland Railway at
Bamford. The dams were opened by King George V in 1916.
In May 1935, after much
nationwide opposition, work began downstream on the construction of the
Ladybower Dam across
the River Derwent in Derbyshire, three-quarters of a mile south of Ashopton,
a village on the road linking Sheffield and Glossop.
This project, built to supply water to the
citizens of Sheffield, Derby,
Nottingham and Leicester, caused considerable
controversy because it involved
of the villages of Derwent (left,1912) and Ashopton to be demolished.
protests the dam went ahead and Ladybower, the largest of the
three reservoirs, was completed in 1945, though the reservoir took
a further two years to fill. At the time this was the largest reservoir in
buildings were sacrificed beneath the waters including ancient farms and Derwent
Hall, a property of the Dukes of Norfolk dating from 1672. The spire of the
Parish church was visible for a while whenever the water level was low, but was
demolished for safety reasons.
The viaduct being built in the early 1940's through Ashopton village
(2) By 1941, the 945 foot long viaduct was almost complete
(3) By 1945, the waters of Ladybower were already
rising beneath the viaduct.
(4) The map shows the sites of Derwent and Ashopton
before the construction of Ladybower.
By 1946 the remains of both villages were
covered, and the flooding of the two villages was the worst damage inflicted
by the water authorities in their many projects around the Peak District,
although twice since then, when the waters
have fallen - in 1976 and 1989 - stonework from the village of Derwent has re-appeared,
Ladybower and the two other Dams in the valley have now become major tourist
attractions, the Derwent Dam (click to enlarge) looks magnificent after heavy rainfall.
Many thanks to
Chris Croome - http://chris.croome.net/photos/ for his photograph of Derwent Dam.
The information and photographs on
this page are from a book by Vic Hallam called "Silent Valley"
(this book can be ordered from
Waterstones, Meadowhall, Sheffield)
Silent Valley is the story of these two lost
villages, of how they developed and finally quietly died during the second
Memories of "Tin Town" -
Life in the navvy village of
(this book can be bought from
The navvy village of Birchinlee was a short
lived community of about 1,000 people which existed for just 15 years as the
Howden and Derwent Dams were constructed in the Peak District between 1901
NEXT : 617 Squadron ' The Dambusters' in the Derwent Valley