MEMORY LANE: Royal approval for Peak District reservoir

Several parties of Buxtonians were among the 25,000 people who visited the site of the new Ladybower Reservoir on September 25, 1945, for the unveiling by King George VI of a plaque to commemorate the inauguration of the reservoir.

By Jonathan Dodds
Monday, 31st March 2014, 6:26 pm
King George VI releases a valve at Ladybower Reservoir during its inauguration in 1945. Photo: Sheffield Newspapers.
King George VI releases a valve at Ladybower Reservoir during its inauguration in 1945. Photo: Sheffield Newspapers.

The ceremony marked the completion of a work programme initiated in 1899, when an Act of Parliament authorised the Derwent Valley Water Board to construct six reservoirs to supply water to Derbyshire and the surrounding corporations of Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The Howden Reservoir was opened in 1912, the Derwent Reservoir in 1916, and a diversion of the rivers Alsop and Alport in the Derwent Reservoir was completed in 1930.

Heralded as the largest artificial reservoir formed by the construction of an earthwork embankment in the British Isles, Ladybower Reservoir was intended to supply 53,666,000 gallons per day. It took two years to fill.

Queen Elizabeth, Pictured at the inauguration of the Ladybower Reservoir, September 25,1945.

Reporting on the royal visit, the Buxton Herald of Thursday September 27 said: “Although the weather was wintry, the visit of Their Majesties the King and Queen and the significance of the proceedings attracted spectators who came by car, bus, cycle and on foot.

“On their way to the Ladybower embankment the King and Queen motored round the three dams comprising the Water Board’s achievement up to date.

“After the unveiling, the King unlocked the gates leading to the embankment and operated the release valves, causing water to flow from the reservoir.

“The King and Queen chatted with a number of workmen during the proceedings.”

Their Majesties the King and Queen in Sheffield and Derbyshire a the official opening of the ladybower Reservoir, by H M King

Work on the reservoir had begun in 1935, but its completion was delayed by the Second World War.

Two miles of the highway from Glossop to Sheffield, a similar length of road from Ashopton to Derwent, and a shorter length of road from Bamford to Ashopton all had to be submerged.

Five-and-a-quarter miles of new roads were built in their place, as well as two viaducts of reinforced concrete.

The villages of Ashopton and Derwent were ‘drowned’ by the construction of the reservoir, with several buildings, including farms, cottages and churches, being demolished or left submerged.

The narrow stone Packhorse Bridge over the Derwent was removed and later rebuilt at Howden.