YORKSHIRE BRIDGE & LADYBOWER
The tiny village of Yorkshire Bridge, in the Upper Derwent Valley, lies in the shadow of the dam wall of the Ladybower Reservoir. Its neat, regimented rows of houses were built to re-house the inhabitants of the former villages of Ashopton and Derwent. Both villages and the surrounding land having been submerged, when the reservoir was completed and filled with water.
Yorkshire Bridge has its own pub of the same name and the bridge spanning the River Derwent also bears the same name. Despite all the references to Yorkshire, you are still in Derbyshire, the boundary between the two counties is more than two miles away to the north east. The visitor centre at Fairholmes, situated further north below the wall of the Derwent Dam tells the story of the ‘drowned villages’ and the birth of Yorkshire Bridge.
There were already two reservoirs in existence when the Ladybower was constructed; the Howden and Derwent were both completed by 1916. The 1.25 million tonnes of stones used in construction was transported to the site by rail on a specially constructed narrow-gauge line from Bamford. In the 1930s, when Ladybower was constructed, it was re-opened as a timberline. The line was purchased by the Peak District National Park Authority in 1944, and is now a bridleway and footpath.
The Upper Derwent valley was a very attractive location for the storage of water, with its long deep valley and narrow points for dam building. This combined with a high average rainfall, low population level and heavy demand for water from the industrial towns that surrounded the Peak District, made the case for reservoir construction. The Derwent Valley Water Board was set up in 1899 to supply water to Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leicester and the Howden and Derwent Reservoirs were constructed.
At that time the demand for water was satisfied and although plans existed for further reservoirs, no further action was taken. But demand continued to grow and the decision was taken to build one very large reservoir, to be called Ladybower. This entailed the flooding of the villages of Ashopton and Derwent and caused considerable unrest. However, the project went ahead and the villagers were moved to new houses at Yorkshire Bridge.
Ashopton Viaduct was built to carry the Snake Road to Glossop and the Ladybower Viaduct to carry the road from Yorkshire Bridge to the A57. The ancient Derwent packhorse bridge, which had a preservation order on it, was painstakingly moved stone by stone and rebuilt at Slippery Stones at the head of the Howden Reservoir. The graves in the churchyard were excavated and the bodies reburied in an extension to Bamford churchyard.
The reservoir was finally opened by King George VI, in 1945, and to mark the occasion a commemorative monument has been built close to the dam wall. One person though refused to move, Miss A Cotterill of Ginnett House. She remained there until she died in 1990, at the age of 99, the waters of the reservoir lapping at the front garden steps.
Perhaps the best known inhabitant to have lived at Yorkshire Bridge was a sheepdog named Tip. Her master, Tagg, was a well-known local sheep farmer who helped found Hope Valley Sheepdog Trials, and during his later years lived at Yorkshire Bridge. He won a succession of prizes throughout the country with his sheepdogs and even sold one to an American for one thousand pounds.
On the 12 December 1953, Tagg, aged 85, went out for the last time with his faithful border collie, Tip, 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 by chance, with the faithful Tip now completely exhausted lying about five yards 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. Once the story became known, Tip became famous not only in this country, but abroad as well. A year later, in May 1955 she died. However, the hearts of those that had heard the story were so greatly touched, that a memorial was erected at the western end of Derwent Dam, in memory of Tip.
The Derwent Dams were used during the Second World War to perfect the ‘bouncing bombs’ technique which in 1943, breached the Ruhr Valley Dams, in the heartland of industrial Germany. A plaque and memorial museum in the west tower of Derwent Dam retells the story of the Dambusters, which many will have seen on film.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
Castleton Caverns without doubt the most spectacular collection of caverns in the country. Speedwell (Tel 01433 620512), Blue John (Tel 01433 620638), Treak (Tel 01433 620571) and Peak (Tel 01433 620285).
The Upper Derwent Visitor Centre (Tel. 01433 650953) located at Fairholmes, close to the Derwent Dam. Fascinating facts can be found about the area through the interactive displays. Maps, books, postcards, souvenirs, drinks and light refreshments are also available. Picnic tables are provided outside. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Glossop in the far North West of Derbyshire often described as the gateway to the Peak, is surrounded by the beautiful Peak District National Park. It is approached from Ladybower through the Snake Pass along one of the most famous roads in the country. Glossop is a bustling former mill town, with attractive parks, a beautiful town square, and plenty of shops and places to eat.
Ladybower Inn (Tel.01433 651241) situated on the A57 overlooking the reservoir, the inn was re-sited more than 100 years ago having originally been located further up Ladybower Brook. Open all day. Meals served daily.
The Bay Tree Coffee Shop (Tel. 01433 651323) situated within High Peak Garden Centre, on the A6187 between Hathersage and Bamford. Hot and cold snacks served and there is seating outside.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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YORKSHIRE BRIDGE WALK
A short, but very rewarding walk, which introduces the visitor to Derbyshire’s ‘Lake District’ and whets the appetite for many more visits in the future. The northern section of the Upper Derwent Valley has three reservoirs, Ladybower, Derwent and Howden surrounded by forest, farmland and wild glorious moorland scenery.
After passing the Ladybower Fishery Office and crossing the viaduct, the walk takes you through Ladybower Wood, a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve noted for its ancient woodland. The wide ranging views over the reservoir and the surrounding countryside are superb.
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