SK1986 : Derwent : Ladybower Reservoir

taken 10 years ago, 3 km from Bamford, Derbyshire, Great Britain

Derwent : Ladybower Reservoir
Derwent : Ladybower Reservoir
Ladybower Reservoir is a large Y-shaped reservoir, the lowest of three in the Upper Derwent Valley, often referred to as the 'Lake District of the Peak'. The River Ashop flows into the reservoir from the west; and the River Derwent flows south, initially through Howden Reservoir and Derwent Reservoir, and finally Ladybower Reservoir. Its longest dimension is just over 3 miles (4.8 km), and at the time of construction it was the largest reservoir in England. In recent years forestry has become an important factor, and the sides of the valley have been clothed in conifers. The area is now a popular tourist location, attracting over 2 million visitors a year: a visitor centre is located at Fairholmes, at the northern tip of the reservoir.

Ladybower was built between 1935 and 1943 by the Derwent Valley Water Board, and took a further two years to fill. The dam differs from the other two in the valley, as it is a clay cored earth embankment, rather than a solid masonry dam. Below the dam is a cut off trench 180 feet (55 metres) deep and 6 feet (1.8 metres) wide, filled with concrete and stretching 500 feet (180 metres) into the hills each side, to stop water leaking around the dam. The building of the dam wall was undertaken by a Scottish company, Richard Baillie and Sons.

Ashopton Viaduct on the A57, and Ladybower Viaduct on the A6013, needed to carry the roads over the reservoir, were built by the London firm of Holloways, using a steel frame clad in concrete. Both firms encountered mounting problems when the Second World War broke out in 1939, making labour and raw materials scarce. This extended the proposed build time, but construction carried on due to the strategic importance of maintaining supplies. The opening ceremony for the reservoir was carried out on 25 September 1945 by George VI, and is commemorated by a monument near the dam wall.

During the 1990s the dam wall was raised and strengthened to reduce the risk of 'over-topping' in a major flood. The original wall contains 100,000 tonnes of concrete, over a million tonnes of earth and 100,000 tonnes of clay for the core, the upstream face being stone faced. Materials were brought in by the water board's own branch railway line, and their sidings off the main Hope Valley Line.

The dam's design is peculiar in having two totally enclosed bellmouth overflows, locally named the 'plugholes', at the side of the wall. These are stone and of 80 feet (24 m) diameter, with outlets of 15 feet (4.6 m) diameter. Each discharges through its own valve house at the base of the dam. The overflows originally had walkways around them but they were dismantled many years ago.

The water is used for river control; to compensate for the water retained by all three dams; drinking water; and hydroelectricity generation. Drinking water must be pumped to treatment works, rather than using gravity flow like the other two reservoirs, increasing costs. It is treated at Bamford Treatment Works by Severn Trent Water. Treated water flows down the 28 miles (45 km) long Derwent Valley Aqueduct to a covered service reservoir at Ambergate, to supply clean water to Derby and Leicester. The aqueduct passes through the park of Chatsworth House on its way south, and is marked by a series of distinctive valve houses built of stone, and domed steel access chambers. A tunnel carries some of the water east, to the lower of the two Rivelin Dams to supply Sheffield.

The building of the reservoir resulted in the 'drowning' of the villages of Ashopton and Derwent, including the church and Derwent Hall, a property of the Dukes of Norfolk dating from 1672. The packhorse bridge that stood near the gates of Derwent Hall was moved stone by stone and rebuilt at Slippery Stones, at the head of Howden Reservoir, in memory of John Derry, editor of the 'Sheffield Independent'. The graves in the churchyard were excavated and the bodies reburied in Bamford churchyard. The buildings in Ashopton were demolished before the reservoir was filled, but much of the structure of Derwent village was still visible during a dry summer some 14 years later. The spire of the church had been left standing and the upper part of it was visible above the water level until 1959, when it was seen as a hazard and demolished with explosives.

The tiny village of Yorkshire Bridge, which lies in the shadow of Ladybower Dam, was built to house those made homeless by the flooding of the valley. One person though, refused to move: Miss Cotterill of Ginnett House, a piano teacher, remained in her home as a tenant of the water board until she died in 1990, at the age of 99, the waters of the reservoir lapping at the front garden steps. "They didn't expect I would live so long, but I'm tough," she reportedly commented.

Perhaps the best known inhabitant to have lived at Yorkshire Bridge was a sheepdog named Tip. Her master, Joseph Tagg, was a well known local sheep farmer who helped found Hope Valley Sheepdog Trials, and during his later years lived in the village. On 12 December 1953, Tagg, aged 85, went out for the last time with his faithful border collie, and vanished completely. Despite an exhaustive search neither he, nor his dog, could be found. It was not until 15 weeks later that Tagg’s remains were discovered, with Tip, now completely exhausted, lying about five metres away. Somehow, Tip had managed to survive heavy snow, biting winds and freezing temperatures on one of the most hostile stretches of moorland in the country. Tip was carried back to the rescuer’s lorry and later transferred to a caring home, where she was carefully nursed back to health. A year later, in May 1955, she died. However, the hearts of those familiar with the story were so greatly touched, that a memorial was erected at the western end of Derwent Dam, in her memory.

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SK1986, 152 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Sunday, 10 April, 2011   (more nearby)
Friday, 15 April, 2011
Reservoir > Reservoir   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 199 860 [100m precision]
WGS84: 53:22.2726N 1:42.1064W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 197 863
View Direction
South-southeast (about 157 degrees)
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