The Re-Emergence of the Submerged Derwent Village

The Re-Emergence of the Submerged Derwent Village

For anyone who is interested in seeing the remnants of Derwent village, hurry down to Ladybower Reservoir before the remains are once again submerged. Today we travelled to the reservoir ourselves to take a look at this rare phenomenon as the submerged village of Derwent re-emerged.

Derwent Village

Construction on the Ladybower Reservoir began in 1935. The purpose of the reservoir was to supply an increasing demand for water to the inhabitants of the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. The reservoir required expansion to meet this growing demand. Derwent Village was an ideal location for this project. It lay in a natural deep valley and benefited from high levels of rainfall. The village also lay close to the Howden and Derwent reservoirs. As plans began to convert this sleepy village into a reservoir, bodies were exhumed from the church grave yard and reburied.

Demolition of the village began in 1943 as villagers who had been relocated to neighbouring towns looked on as their community was destroyed. Work began to fill the damn from 1943 until 1945 and saw the once beautiful village of Derwent submerged. A neighbouring village, Ashopton fell to the same fate. Upon the completion of the project in September 1945, King George VI officially opened the reservoir.

To view some images of Derwent Village and details of an upcoming project, see this recent article in the Yorkshire Post.

The Derwent Village church spire, a strange spectacle, could once be seen above the water level. The spire was demolished some years later amidst safety concerns.

The Re-emergence of Derwent Village – November 2018

What can be seen as the water levels drop is truly an eerie sight. The perfectly intact structure that was once the Derwent village pump house is plainly visible and can even be entered and explored.


You can even walk amongst the remains of the once undoubtedly bustling great hall of Derwent village.

Solitary walls and evidence of a place filled with human activity have emerged from the depths.


Stumps emerge from the mud, once forming part of the structures of Derwent village.

Walking along the muddy shores, knowing that the footsteps you tread will soon be submerged is quite an eerie realisation.

Once tall proud trees reduced to black stumps cling onto the banks (they reminded me of giant octopus!)

A rare opportunity to walk through a dry reservoir forces you to comprehend just how deep the water normally is.

A Tourist Attraction

The re-emergence of Derwent village has attracted a lot of media attention. Subsequently tourism to the area has significantly increased. We visit the Ladybower reservoir periodically throughout the year. We have never seen it as busy as it has been since the re-appearance of Derwent village. If you do happen to visit the area, there is plenty to do and see beside the eerie ruins.

The Derwent reservoir was used by World War 2 pilots as they practised their famous ‘Dam Busters’ raid which took place in Germany in 1943. As a result, this site has huge national significance. Visitors flock to take in the atmosphere of this historical site.

The Derwent dam is an impressively huge structure and is always a popular spot with tourists.

The area surrounding the reservoirs is simply stunning. We have enjoyed many walks through the woodlands and along the water banks.

The Fairhomes visitors’ centre is a popular spot with toilet facilities and beverages served to the thousands who flock here every year.

I would strongly advise that if you do visit the muddy slopes of the former Derwent village, you take extra care. A member of public has already been rescued from the deep slippery mud this month alone. The remains have suffered from vandalism on recent weeks. It is important to remember that these ruins are part of our heritage and must be respected.



  1. November 27, 2018 / 8:27 pm

    I didn’t know about this place and the history around it. Thank you for sharing this informative post?

    • November 27, 2018 / 9:49 pm

      Thank you for reading 🙂

  2. Chloe
    November 27, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    Wow! This looks amazing. I love finding places that were once hidden and I love trying to learn about all the history and imagining what it used to look like. This looks amazing to visit and it looks in incredible condition considering it’s been hidden for so long in the mud. It’s a shame that people think they can vandilse places especially if they hold a historic value. I wish people had more respect for places like this.

    • November 27, 2018 / 9:49 pm

      You’re right Chloe, some people are odd. Apparently parents and their children were pulling stones from the ruins and throwing them into the water over the weekend 🙁

  3. paddockfamily4
    November 27, 2018 / 9:34 pm

    Wow- this is absolutely fascinating!!!

    • November 27, 2018 / 9:48 pm

      It is a wondrous sight 🙂

  4. Stumped Mom
    November 27, 2018 / 10:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing this History. I love the stories of communities that are moved/started/ended all at once.

    • November 27, 2018 / 10:07 pm

      Thank you – I love these stories too. I’m trying to find some images of the village as it stood 🙂

  5. November 27, 2018 / 10:02 pm

    It looks lovely! It’s such a shame about the vandalism, people really don’t appreciate things like this as much as they should. I’d likely fall flat on my face on the slippery bits x


    • November 27, 2018 / 10:07 pm

      My good old Doc Martens were a God-send in that horrid mud 🙂

  6. November 27, 2018 / 10:25 pm

    These pictures are lovely! A similar thing is happening with my father’s home town, the state is building a dam that will submerge it. A little sad now, but maybe in the future it’ll be a fun tourist spot someone will blog about 🙂

    • November 28, 2018 / 11:00 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that your father is having a similar experience, it’s so tragic that this sort of thing happens xxx

  7. lolitambonita
    November 27, 2018 / 10:53 pm

    How incredible is that! It reminds me of Haweswater and the little demolished town of Mardale :).

    Lola Mia x

    • November 28, 2018 / 11:00 pm

      It’s so sad that this type of thing happens xxx

  8. November 28, 2018 / 10:41 am

    Wow! I’ve never heard of the Derwent village but your photos and description are fascinating! What a cool place! That is so amazing that you can even enter and explore the pump house too. Thank you for sharing your experience of such a unique place! <3 xx

    Bexa |

    • November 28, 2018 / 10:59 pm

      Thank you Bexa, it was a truly eerie experience xxx

  9. November 28, 2018 / 11:44 pm

    Ashley this is a very interesting one. Love old ruins but these are with a difference. The place has quite the history to it. Lovely photos throughout and an intriguing story.


    • December 13, 2018 / 10:16 pm

      Thank you John, I feel privileged to have seen these particular ruins 🙂

  10. December 15, 2018 / 7:53 am

    It is interesting to learn about the history behind the Derwent VIllage. Oh man, the water level went down so much! However, I am in love with the dam! It looks SO RICH!

    Nancy ♥

    • December 16, 2018 / 1:07 am

      It is an amazing place even when the ruins are beneath the surface xxx

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