The Lost Treasures of Ladybower

The Villages of Derwent and Ashopton

Posted by Phil Sproson on Oct 31, 2018
Let's Go Peak District » Let's Go Peak District

The Lost Treasures of Ladybower

Today the Upper Derwent Valley, stretching for miles through steeply wooded hills, is a peaceful place of outstanding beauty.  The glassy waters of Howden, Derwent and Ladybower Reservoirs reflect the ever-changing colours of the trees that line their banks, and the high slopes of wild moorland on both sides are home to abundant animal and bird life.


Ladybower Reservoir

The Valley today is a place for carefree weekend recreation too.  Every year more than two million people visit the area, with hundreds of thousands of walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders enjoying the country trails, while families picnic at the edges of the water.

The Drowned Villages
The picture has not always been so idyllic, however.  At the beginning of the 20th Century two small but thriving villages were situated in this part of the Upper Derwent Valley: Derwent and Ashopton.  They were important communities, in which hundreds of people worked and played and went about their daily lives.

Derwent Village

In the 1930s the Derwent Valley Water Board needed to supply more water to Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester than could be provided by the existing Howden and Derwent Reservoirs, and preparations began for the creation of a third enormous reservoir, Ladybower.  Ladybower was to be positioned adjoining the southern end of Derwent Reservoir, which took its foundations deep into the heart of the two villages.

And so in the ten years between 1935 and 1945, the buildings of Derwent and Ashopton were compulsorily purchased, despite much local opposition.  The owners of the buildings were moved on, the bodies of their relatives exhumed from the village churchyard, and their homes were reduced to rubble.  Both villages were drowned as the reservoir was slowly filled, and the remains of the two communities disappeared underneath the deep waters.

The village of Derwent was located some distance into the valley.  It had twisting streets of stone cottages, alongside which the River Derwent flowed under bridges.  Children played in the school yard and villagers were christened, married and buried at the village church.  Derwent even boasted a grand country house, Derwent Hall.

Built in 1672, Derwent Hall was an impressive stately home designed in the Jacobean style.  At one point owned by the Duke of Norfolk... (to read the article in full visit Let's Go Peak District)


The village of Ashopton was busier than Derwent, being located on the main road between Sheffield and Glossop, and standing at a crossroads where a journey could be broken.  The popular Ashopton Inn was a bustling pub, just as popular with visiting walkers and cyclists as it was with local villagers... (to read the article in full visit Let's Go Peak District)

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