Bamford & Upper Derwent Valley
The pretty village of Bamford is beautifully located in the Hope Valley, underneath the dramatic heights of Bamford Edge and situated on the banks of the River Derwent. From here the river flows into the Upper Derwent Valley and feeds Ladybower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs.
The village is small but is well worth exploring. It has some lovely old buildings, including the picturesque parish church of St John the Baptist, which was built in 1860.
Bamford is also proudly home to the UK’s first community-owned and managed pub, The Anglers’ Rest, which also runs as a café, Post Office and gift shop.
Bamford Mill has now been converted into residential flats, but it is an impressive building, built in 1782. It was used first as a corn mill, then a cotton mill, employing more than 130 people at the height of its industry. It closed in the 1990s.
There are three large reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley: Howden, Derwent and Ladybower. The former two were created when dams were constructed across the River Derwent in 1912 (Howden) and 1916 (Derwent). The construction was an immense undertaking. A large village (known as Birchinlee, or ‘Tin Town’) was erected to house the 1,000 workers during the 14 years that the dams took to build, and boasted its own school, pub, shops, hospital and police station. Remnants of Tin Town can still be seen on the banks of Derwent Reservoir. Sections of the railway track that was built to transport materials throughout the site can also be seen when the water levels are low.
As the population of the area grew and demand for water increased, a third and even larger reservoir was completed in 1943, Ladybower. Today the three reservoirs cover almost 200 square kilometres, and can hold 463,692 million litres of water.
The Drowned Villages
Two villages were flooded in the process of building Ladybower Reservoir. The villages of Ashopton and Derwent were small but thriving communities, with a number of houses, a shop, a church and a coaching inn. The villagers were moved further down the valley towards Bamford and re-housed in a newly-built estate close to the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. The bodies from the church were exhumed and reburied within the graveyard of the church in Bamford. In particularly dry summers the foundations of the villages are exposed, and the church spire of Derwent protruded out of the water until 1947, when it was demolished because of safety concerns.
The dams are also well known for being the site of the practice bombing missions for 617 Squadron (known as the Dambusters) before their attack on the Ruhr dams in Germany in 1943. The 1954 film ‘The Dambusters’ was filmed here and the reservoirs see regular flypasts from the Lancaster and Spitfire bombers of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.