Records relating to Derwent Valley Water Board; 1899-1974

Scope and Content

The collection comprises a full series of indexed bound minute books, 1899-1974 containing annual statements of accounts, and other specific reports (DVW/G). These contain information on the progress of the major works of the Board.

A series of significant plans dated 1901-1914 (DVW/P/1) show designs for various buildings which formed part of the 'tin town' at Birchinlee, Derbyshire, built for workers involved in the construction of Derwent and Howden Dams in the Derwent Valley. Huts were constructed with galvanised corrugated iron sides [hence the nickname 'Tin Town']. Plans which have survived here include the staff club, general hospital, isolation hospital, canteen [with various extensions] and huts for workmen. Unfortunately there are no photographs of the huts within this collection but there are a number of photographs of the valley showing the village in the distance in an album of the Nottingham Corporation Waterworks (R/HR/1/8/1/166-171].

Other maps and plans (DVW/P/2-6) relate to specific elements of intended works such as the building of Ladybower Reservoir in Derbyshire and a reservoir and aqueduct at Newton Linford, Leicestershire. Some of these plans show the intended water level of the new reservoirs, indicating the buildings which would be submerged in the process (part of the 'lost village of Ashopton, Derbyshire).

A small selection of undated photographs (c.1950-c.1974) document work carried out on behalf of the Board in Belper, Derbyshire (DVW/Ph). There is also a single printed item 'The Derwent Valley Water Board: a short description of the undertaking' dated c.1970 which includes a map of the supply network and treatment works from the reservoirs to the cities (DWV/Pr).

Administrative / Biographical History

Due to concerns about meeting demand for water in the growing cities of the East Midlands and disputes between these cities over access to the waters of the upper River Derwent, the Derwent Valley Water Board was formed under the Derwent Valley Water Act 1899. This was to enable the construction of reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley in the Derbyshire Peak District, in order to supply Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Sheffield and parts of Derbyshire.

Howden Reservoir was officially opened in 1912 and Derwent Reservoir was bought into use in 1916. Water from the reservoirs passed through filters constructed at nearby Bamford and was transported via aqueducts and pipelines, which divided at Ambergate, Derbyshire, into the Nottingham and the Derby (and Leicester) supplies. A second instalment of work by the Board involved diverting water from the Rivers Ashop and Alport into the Derwent Reservoir, with the construction of a filtration plant at Yorkshire Bridge and duplication of pipeline along various sections of the aqueduct. Construction of Ladybower Reservoir formed the third instalment, with work starting on Ladybower Dam in 1935 and the official opening of the reservoir taking place in 1945. Work began on improvements to the filtration and treatment of the water in 1965, and due to further demand increases, Church Wilne storage reservoir and treatment works in Nottinghamshire opened in 1972, for water extracted from the Lower Derwent River. The Board was dissolved under the Water Act, 1973 and responsibility passed to the newly created Severn Trent Water Authority in 1974.

The Board's head office was based at Bamford, Derbyshire. Meetings were held in rotation at Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield. Construction costs were apportioned in relation to the proportion of water that each corporation or authority had been allocated under the 1899 Act [with the exception of Derbyshire County Council which had different arrangements] Representation on the Board also reflected this arrangement. Board members at 1899 included Aldermen John Jelley and Edward Henry Fraser, former Sheriffs of Nottingham, Aldermen Sir Henry Howe Bemrose, Treasurer, James William Newbold and Abraham Woodiwiss, former Mayors of Derby, Aldermen Edward Wood, Deputy Chairman of the Board and former Mayor of Leicester and Alderman William Wilkins Vincent, future Mayor of Leicester, Aldermen William Edwin Clegg and Thomas Robert Gainsford of Sheffield (Chairman). The Derwent Valley Water Order, 1969, adjusted the water supply arrangements with the various counties.


Material has been arranged by type.

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

On the World Wide Web: Online catalogue available from the Manuscripts and Special Collections website.

Conditions Governing Use

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections

Custodial History

The records were found amongst papers transferred to the University by Severn Trent Water Authority in various accessions, over a number of years. This catalogue was produced in 2011-2012 with support from The National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme.

Related Material

Derbyshire Record Office (various collections).

Manuscripts and Special Collections also holds records of the Trent River Board/Authority and their successors (Ref: RC, RE, RG, RH, RT, RTF, RST and RWA), and records of City of Nottingham Water Department (Ref: RHR).


'Birchinee: the workmen's villlage of the Derwent Valley Water Board' by Brian Robinson, Manchester 1983 Derwent Valley Water Board 'Inauguration of the third instalment of works by His Majesty King George VI: Tuesday, 25th September, 1945', Bamford, Derbyshire: Derwent Valley Water Board 1945