Derbyshire Dambusters museum is delayed and could now be years away

Plans for a Dambusters museum near Sheffield have been delayed and could now be years away.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 10:51 am
Updated Monday, 22nd November 2021, 11:17 am

Severn Trent Water put forward plans before lockdown for a museum marking the famous World War Two air raid, which featured specially adapted bouncing bombs dropped by aircrews who practised over the Derwent Dam.

It was to replace a previous museum, which had been in the towers at the dam before being closed by the water firm for safety reasons. It had been five-star rated on Tripadvisor.

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Dambusters 3. Aerial view of the dam. March 29 02

But Severn Trent now says a replacement is years away as the firm did not get planning permission when the company required it, although it plans ‘new interpretation’ in the meantime.

A Severn Trent spokesperson said: “We were unfortunately unable to secure the planning permission required to build a new exhibition when we hoped to.

"This doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in the future, but it is not planned for the next few years.

"We do know how important the heritage of the area is though, so we have been working on some really exciting new interpretation to go around the site. We are hoping this can be installed in the coming months.”

A Lancaster bomber over Derwent dam in the Peak District, to mark the 65th anniversary of the Dambusters raid. A new museum at Derwent to mark the raids has been delayed and could be years away (pic: David Jones/PA Wire)

Severn Trent had applied to the Peak District National Park Authority for permission to construct a new building at Fairholmes which would be home to the Dambusters exhibition previously located at Derwent Dam.

A report submitted on behalf of the application says: “The Dambusters exhibition was previously housed within one of the towers of the nearby Derwent Dam.

“This was closed due to safety concerns of having this facility within what is an essential operational structure. Severn Trent has received over 1,000 enquiries in the past year about the Dambusters. The area surrounding Fairholmes and the dams is popular with walkers and cyclists.

“The Dambusters exhibition is a popular and important collection and Severn Trent is committed to letting visitors enjoy this again.”

Dambuster actor Richard Todd at the Dambusters museum at derwent reservoir.Friday 29th March 2002. A new museum at Derwent to mark the raids has been delayed and could be years away

The proposed new single-storey building at Fairholmes would be located on the site’s lower car park, close to the existing visitor centre, and requires the relocation of a number of parking spaces.

Severn Trent said at the time a permanent Dambusters exhibition, based on the now closed museum in the Derwent Dam tower, was planned.

What was The Dambusters raid?

The Dambusters raid was a famous RAF raid carried out in May 1943.

The plan was to use a specially designed ‘bouncing bomb’ that could be dropped from a modified Lancaster bomber and would bounce on the water before sinking at the base of German dams, exploding underwater and causing enough of a shockwave to blow a hole in the dam. They had to bounce to avoid torpedo nets placed under the water by the Nazis.

The water would then flood the industrial Ruhr valley.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson led 617 Squadron on the famous bombing mission, which was made into a film in the 1950s starring Richard Todd, who visited the previous Derwent museum in 2002, before it was closed.

The raids targeted the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams. Only the Sorpe dam remained intact after the raids.

In all, 133 aircrew in 19 Lancasters took off to bomb the dams. Of those, 53 men were killed and three became prisoners of war.