The Upper Derwent Valley is located in the Peak District, close to the village of Bamford, Derbyshire. The valley has been flooded to create three reservoirs known as Ladybower, Derwent and Howden.
The first of the three dams to be built was Howden, started in 1899, when the Derwent Valley Water Board was set up to supply water to Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield. Construction was started in 1901, along with a temporary town called Birchlee, also known as Tin Town, to house the work force. A temporary railway was also built, remains can still be seen of the viaduct bases when the water is low. Howden was completed in 1912.
Building of the Derwent dam was started 1902, it was finished in 1916. The Reservoir began to be filled in 1914 which took two years to spill over the edge of the dam.
Although with the huge capacities of the reservoirs, the demand for water meant that a third Reservoir had to be build, Ladybower was started in 1935 and finished in 1945. The villages of the Derwent and Ashopton were flooded, the occupants relocated to the Yorkshire Bridge estate downstreram of Ladybower.
During the Second World War, in 1943, the Upper Derwent Valley was used as a practice area for 617 Squadron, the Dam Busters. They flew modified Lancaster bombers, flying low over the water to target the dams, in preparation for their attack on the Ruhr dams in Germany. The Dam Buster films were also filmed at the Derwent dams. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly commemorative flights over the reservoirs.