5 Villages Flooded to Make Way for Man-Made Reservoirs

Flooded villages swept aside for the construction of reservoirs

haweswater (Image: Michael Graham, cc-sa-3.0Peter Stevens, cc-3.0)

With the unseasonal weather and problem of flooding in the UK in recent years, there’s a growing interest in how Britain’s dams and water systems are used to redirect the natural flow of water. This article looks at the submerging of several settlements in the past century in order to build reservoirs in response to an increasing demand for tap water.

Measand and Mardale Green, Cumbria

The flooded villages of Measand and Mardale Green, Cumbria (Image: Steve Partridge, cc-sa-3.0)

Haweswater in the historic county of Westmorland (now part of Cumbria) was extended throughout the picturesque valley of Mardale in 1935 to form a large reservoir that now supplies a quarter of North West England’s water. Residents of the farming villages of Measand and Mardale Green were relocated to allow the area to become an 84 billion litre container.

Ruins of the abandoned Measand and Mardale Green (Images: John Douglas; Janet Richardsoncc-sa-3.0)

To appease the locals, the new Haweswater Hotel was built on higher ground and replaced the demolished Dun Bull Inn, while the dead in the churchyard were re-interred at Shap. The old church stone was used in the construction of a 27.5 metre tall by 470 metre long dam – which was allegedly the first hollow buttress dam in the world. In 2002, Cumbrian writer Sarah Hall wrote Haweswater, a fictional novel about the flooded villages.

Capel Celyn, Wales

In 1957, a controversial Act of Parliament was passed to enable the flooding of the Tryweryn Valley in North Wales, which was home to the exclusively Welsh-speaking rural village Capel Celyn. Amid much objection, Tryweryn Reservoir officially opened in 1965 and maintained a water supply for Liverpool City Council, which apologised in 2005.

Ruins of Capel Celyn, Wales (Image: Velela, public domain)

Stones from the original chapel were used to build a nearby Memorial Chapel (above) but farms, homes, graves, a school, a post office and a seventeenth century Quaker meeting house were all lost. Decades later, it inspired the Manic Street Preachers to ask ‘Where are we going?’ in their song ‘Ready for Drowning’. Meanwhile, Irish composer Enya sang ‘Dan y Dŵr, tawelwch sydd’ (Welsh for ‘beneath the waters, there is silence’) in her debut solo album.

Flooded Derwent and Ashopton, Derbyshire

The flooded village ruins of Derwent and Ashopton in Derbyshire (Image: Tim Hallam, cc-sa-3.0)

The villages of Derwent and Ashopton in the Derwent Valley were flooded to create the Ladybower Reservoir near Sheffield. The reservoir took two years to fill and was officially opened in 1945 by King George VI. While most structures were demolished in 1943, a haunting church spire was left to break the water’s surface until 1947 when it was blown-up – although the church’s bell was rehung in St Phillip’s in Chaddesden.

Avro Lancaster bomber practices for the Dambusters raid over Derbyshire's Derwent Dam during World War Two (Image: RuthAS, cc-sa-3.0)

Ladybower is one of three reservoirs in the area, along with Howden and Derwent, which feature an impressive neo-Gothic dam. The Derwent Dam was famously used by Lancaster bombers training for Operation Chastise during World War Two, and was appropriately featured in the 1954 film ‘The Dambusters’.

Keep Reading: 10 Abandoned Copper & Tin Mines of Cornwall

 
 


 
 
 

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