The Lost Villages of Derwent and Ashopton

My Sunday Photo

The Stories of the Lost Villages was a something I grew up with.

A family story that has been recorded for future generations by my great grandad Harry Gill, a photographer who was famous locally for his work.

Although I never met him, some of my favourite memories as a child was sat sifting through the thousands of black and white photographs he took for the  newspapers.

These historical moments captured in time were ingrained in my childhood, and one in particular was of the church spire of Derwent village.

Derwent and Ashopton were two small picturesque villages nestled between the beautiful hills of the peak district.

Villages that in 1935 fate announced their demise, when Richard Baillie and Sons LTD started the construction of the dam. This was to drown both in the grim, cold waters of the Ladybower reservoir.

I loved looking at the old photos of the lost villages, of the people who lived there and their beautiful quaint buildings.

I could almost imagine being there in those photos when I was a child.

The eerie images of the reservoir filling and the waters rising, lapping against the rubble where the houses once stood and then enveloping the villages whole.

The only thing that remained for some time, was the church spire sticking out of the water. Left as a memorial to the lost villages and a reminder of what once was.

Unfortunately, the spire also had to be demolished in 1947, due to people trying to swim out to it.

This would not be the case today. Today the reservoir is nearly empty.

The 2018 drought has paid its toll and the water has descended so low that you can actually walk around foundations of the church and those of Derwent Hall.

Facebook is full of amazing photographs of people taking a step back in time and wandering around the ruins of the lost villages.

I wish I lived closer and was able to take my camera there myself. Just like my great Grandad Harry did many years ago.

To walk in his footsteps and record new historical memories, for my own great grandchildren to look back on.

Instead I rely on social media and websites like Let’s Go Peak District (video below) to fulfil my curiosity.

I can however show you some of the amazing photographs of the lost villages that I grew up with. The ones that took my imagination to a place that still fascinates people today!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do 😊

Outdoor Family Photography in Northampton

Thank you to Lets Go Peak District for letting me share this video with you 🙂


  1. John Adams November 4, 2018 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Wow, that is quite some history there. What an amazing story and a truly stunning selection of photographs. Bit pushed for time right now but I will be back to watch the video. #mysundayphoto

    • Lisa Wildgoose November 4, 2018 at 7:50 am - Reply

      It is well worth a watch when you get around to it. It’s so eerie with no water in. I wonder how long it will take to refill 🤔

  2. Carol November 4, 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

    A sad historic event and I love the old photos #MSundayPhoto

    • Lisa Wildgoose November 4, 2018 at 8:51 am - Reply

      My GG also wrote a small book about it which I read to the girls on Friday night. One of them found it so emotional she cried her eyes out. It is so sad 🙁

  3. Darren Coleshill November 4, 2018 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Wow what incredible photos to look back on.

    The video is really interesting

    Thank you for linking up to #MySundayPhoto

    • Lisa Wildgoose November 4, 2018 at 8:52 am - Reply

      We are very lucky to have such amazing history at our finger tips 🙂

  4. Suzanne November 4, 2018 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Brilliant Lisa, thank you for sharing your memories. 🙂

    • Lisa Wildgoose November 4, 2018 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      Thank you for letting me share your video 🙂

  5. Fiona Cambouropoulos November 4, 2018 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Amazing story, I think our little hamlet of Coombe Mill was once a village in its own right. Still here but changes, lost to the sea is quite different.

    • Lisa Wildgoose November 4, 2018 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Wow are you that close to the sea? Must be a great place to live x

  6. Audrey Watkinson November 4, 2018 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Thanks for this. I was brought up in Sheffield and my mum could remember this happening. Back in 1976 or 75, when the water was low, I took mum to see, and we could walk around some of the ruins. It’s a stunning place to cycle round.

    • Lisa Wildgoose November 4, 2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      I’m looking forward to taking my girls in the Christmas holidays. They have found an interest in it recently 🙂

  7. Mike Powdrill November 4, 2018 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Also worth a watch is a video by Vic Hallam (RIP) who wrote lots of books about the dams and the flooded villages. He also ran the museum at the Derwent dam I purchased a great video from there years ago called Water under the bridge-well worth a watch.
    Shows the villages as they were lots of stills plus videos containing interviews with the people who lived in the villages.

    • Lisa Wildgoose November 4, 2018 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      Ooo I must go and have a look around the museum. I have never been. 🙂

  8. Kate Ramsden November 4, 2018 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this , for the wonderful photos . I was born and brought up in Sheffield, ironically my grandparents were Wildgoose too . I moved to Cornwall where , at 71, I still live today , but a huge part of my heart is in Sheffield and the Peak District ( where I also lived in my twenties ) .

    • Lisa Wildgoose November 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      I’m so pleased you liked this post and hopefully bought back some wonderful memories. There are a LOT of Wildgeese in the area, oddly we don’t seem to be related to any of the others even though we can record back 200+years.

  9. Kate Ramsden November 4, 2018 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing , I was born and brought up in Sheffield and then the Peak District . I moved away to live in Cornwall where I still live today, now aged 71 . My grandparents were also called Wildgoose ! I love Cornwall but a huge part of my heart is still up north , thank you again .

  10. Laurence November 6, 2018 at 11:22 am - Reply

    There are still a few foundations & a plaque you can see at the edge of the resvervoir

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