Derbyshire, England, UK

Flooded 1944

The Disappointed Tourist: Derwent, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The creation of the Ladybower Reservoir in 1944 necessitated the flooding of the villages of Derwent and Ashopton, Derwent Woodlands Church and Derwent Hall. The buildings were demolished prior to the flooding of the valley but the old packhorse bridge over the river Derwent was removed and rebuilt elsewhere due to its historical importance. The bells of the church were re-hung in St. Phillip’s Church in Chaddesden and the bodies from the graveyard were exhumed and reburied in Bamford. The church spire was left standing, intended as a memorial, but safely concerns led to it being dynamited in 1947. The remains of the village are occasionally visible when the level of the reservoir drops. I don’t know the source of the photograph on which the painting is based.

I never got to see the villages of Derwent or Ashopton in Derbyshire. They were submerged in a reservoir just before I was born in 1945. Dry summers showed their bones. I always wanted to know them since their names were so familiar. Meg H.