Dambusters exhibition planned for Peak District visitor site

A Lancaster bomber flying over the Derwent Dam.
A Lancaster bomber flying over the Derwent Dam.

A permanent exhibition telling the story of the daring Dambusters raid could soon be housed in a new purpose-built building at a picturesque Peak District visitor site.

Severn Trent Water has put forward plans to improve “out-of-date” facilities at its popular Fairholmes Visitor Centre in the Derwent Valley, near Bamford.

The area is famed for its connection with the legendary Dambusters raid during World War Two, which featured specially-adapted bouncing bombs tested on the Ladybower and Derwent reservoirs.

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

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 require the relocation of a number of parking spaces.

The existing shop and information point would be relocated to the new stone-built structure, alongside the exhibition space, an indoor café and a disabled toilet. An outside terrace and observation balcony would also be features.

“Fairholmes Visitor Centre is Severn Trent’s second busiest visitor site and one of the most picturesque locations within the Severn Trent estate,” planning documents state.

“The existing facilities are out of date and very small, which currently fails to deliver a quality experience for visitors. The requirement to provide a new home for the Dambusters exhibition has presented the opportunity to upgrade the existing visitor facilities at Fairholmes.”

There are also plans to remodel the existing building to provide a new changing places toilet, an enlarged kiosk and additional female toilets.

Public consultation on the plans is open until January 28, and a final decision is expected by mid-February.

A spokesperson for Severn Trent added: ‘We have plans to create a permanent Dambusters exhibition at the Fairholmes centres, based on the now closed museum in the Derwent Dam tower.

“Alongside that, we will also have space given over to some key messages around water while also creating an indoor café space and kitchen for visitors.

“In addition, we’re looking for permission to increase car parking capacity in recognition of just how popular the visitor site has been in recent years.”