COLUMN: 71 years for Derbyshire dam

Queen Elizabeth, Pictured at the inauguration of the Ladybower Reservoir, September 25,1945.

Queen Elizabeth, Pictured at the inauguration of the Ladybower Reservoir, September 25,1945.

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September 25 marks the official opening day of the Ladybower Reservoir – which was in 1945.

The mighty dams at Howden and Derwent had already been impounded but demand for water had grown, so another resevoir was needed.

Work commenced on this new project in 1935 and continued throughout World War II.

The project was delayed when the war broke out in 1939, making labour and raw materials scarce, but construction continued because the water supply was much needed.

Ladybower looks very different to the other dams in the Derwent Valley – less gothic and more modern. It does not have an overflow that gives an awesome cascade down the dam wall as at Howden and Derwent, but has two funnel shaped overflows, one at each side of the dam that look like giant plug holes.

This final reservoir at Ladybower caused great controversy when it was planned, because the building of it meant swallowing up the villages of Derwent and Ashopton. But plans went ahead and people had to move to new homes.

Bodies from Derwent church were exhumed and reburied at Bamford. The tower of the church had been left intact and once made an eerie sight poking out of the waters like a finger marking a Peak District Atlantis when the waters were very low.

The remains were deemed to be a hazard and were demolished in 1947.

The fine, 17th century Derwent Hall, was also a victim. It had become a youth hostel in 1931 and is now but a memory – lost under the water.

Another historic feature, the ancient packhorse bridge at Derwent village, was moved stone by stone and rebuilt at Slippery Stones, at the head of the Howden Reservoir.

The Ladybower Reservoir and dam were completed in 1943, but it took a further two years to fill the reservoir – these things take a while as anyone who filled a rather smaller paddling pool in the hot days enjoyed lately will probably agree.

The official opening of Ladybower was attended by King George VI and the then Queen – later the Queen mother – who did the honours and unveiled a plaque.

Now this necessary practical venture is also a much loved beauty spot.