In 1943 the Derwent valley was flooded to form a reservoir. In the valley were the villages of Derwent and Ashopton. Whilst all the buildings were demolished before the flooding, the church of St. John and St. James Derwent was left as a memorial to the village and the people of the chapel – though amidst safety concerns the tower was demolished in 1947.
My interest in this flooded valley arose from something my dad said. He mentioned a myth he was told as a child about a ghostly church tower rising out of the water when the water was low enough. A quick google search was evidence enough to find out that at one point this was, in fact, true to some extent.
It is true the water levels in a reservoir rise and fall. Despite being man made, these vast bodies of water still have tides. So where the church stood, water did engulf a large amount of the base, however the the steeple was always visible as the water never rose that high. The photo below gives a representation of how high the water would rise.
The chapel was demolished in 1947, two years after the flooding of Derwent was completed. The memorial tower was deemed a health and safety risk and was consequently brought down with dynamite.
In 2011 the ruins became visible for one of the first times in 60 years. These rocky remains have mostly been washed up onto the clearings, creating the flat stony waterside areas, like the one I found during my time at Derwent.
The graveyard at the church housed 285 bodies, all of which had to be exhumed and reburied at Bamford.
“Derwent Village was a small collection of stone built dwellings and out-buildings but the main activity was at Ashopton – a contrast to Derwent, as it was a working village standing beside the main road from Sheffield to Glossop, a crossroads and stop point to break a journey. The Ashopton Inn no doubt would be a watering hole no doubt and once this pub also catered for coaches (and horses) the local garage, post office and many a church wake. . Around the village were several farms and some of this still stands”