Waterworld.

Here we go again. Lockdown 3.0. Little opportunity to venture out. Little to venture out for. No outings for oatcakes in Longnor. No pedalling for a pint in Parwich. Can't even pop up to the Flying Childers in Stanton to collect some takeaway beer. At least Jenny can still keep me supplied with deliveries of her Aldwark ales.


With no travelling going on, it's back to memories and old images to provide the seeds for all this drivel. And it's the images in some old Raphael Tuck postcards which are to blame for this one.


Head west out of Sheffield on the A57 towards Glossop and in less than a dozen miles you find yourself moving onto the Ashopton Viaduct. Turn your head to the left and providing that the weather gods are being kind you'll get this view.


Looking south from the Ashopton viaduct. © Google 2021

Transport the vista back in time a century or so and what you would've been looking at would've been the rear of the Ashopton Inn. Its front elevation would probably have been more attractive. It looked like this.


A photochrom image from around 1900.

In 1818 Parliament approved a new road between Sheffield and Manchester and this was to be one of Thomas Telford's final projects. The eastern end followed a line of existing roads and bridleways but further to the west a completely new highway was built, the Snake Road – named after the snake which features on the Duke of Devonshire's coat of arms. The duke was one of the major landowners of the area at the time. Toll booths and inns were built at intervals along the new road and Ashopton had one of each.


In 1905, J. B. Firth, in his Highways and Byways in Derbyshire, noted that: 'Ashopton itself consists of an inn and a few scattered houses – the inn, which was built for the convenience of passengers on the coach road by a considerate Duke of Devonshire, now being a favourite terminus ad quem for driving parties from Sheffield and the little towns of the Peak.' I'm pretty sure that the nature of the good duke's consideration was a consideration of the 'payment or reward' type rather than one of 'careful thought, typically over a long period of time' nature.


I wonder which little town of the Peak had been their terminus a quo?

In 1901 construction started on the Howden and Derwent Dams. The construction workers were housed in 'Tin Town' a village which was officially called Birchinlee and built by the Derwent Valley Water Board (DVWB). The village had its own hostelry, but in 1902, in order to reduce competition, the DVWB bought the Ashopton Inn from the Duke of Devonshire. They must've really been milking the navvies if they felt that the inn was a competitor as it must've been seven or eight miles away from Tin Town. Quite a stagger home on a cold, dark, December night.


By the time that the 1920s had arrived construction of the dams had been completed, Birchinlee had been mainly dismantled and motor transport had arrived in Ashopton, replacing the coach and four.


The 1920s – and a Shell-Mex filling station has arrived.

By the 1930s Firth's 'terminus ad quem for driving parties' had been extended to include bus trips.


By the 1930s the Virginia Creeper, or whatever it is, was taking hold.

It was in the 1930s that postcard publisher Raphael Tuck produced a series in sepia of the village, first used in August 1938, at least three of which featured the inn. Yep! These are the culprits responsible for initiating this post.


The Ashopton Inn in the 1930s.

A wider view of the inn in the 1930s.


The Old Toll House on the left with the inn centre view.

It was also in the 1930s that the fate of the Ashopton Inn was sealed. In 1935 the DVWB started the construction of Ladybower Reservoir. Ashopton was to be flooded and the road to Manchester would need a viaduct to carry it over the flooded village. It, along with another, was constructed by the civil engineers Holloway Brothers who'd been responsible for the Members' Stand at Lords and the reconstruction of the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street.


The inn continued to serve during the viaduct's construction. Charlotte Bradwell was its final landlady. Having been at the inn for over a decade she was the last individual who was not concerned with the viaduct's construction left living in the village.


Ashopton Viaduct under construction.


The viaduct is complete, the Old Toll House has been demolished but the inn still stands.

Nearly gone! Partial demolition is in progress...

The reservoir's construction was completed and filling started in 1943. The Ashopton Inn went under in 1943. How many pubs will go under this year?


Artist Kenneth Rowntree visited Ashopton in 1940 and his paintings featured a number of the inn, including a couple of the Smoke Room. They are currently in the V&A's collection and are viewable here.


The image of Ashopton Viaduct in 2018 is copyright and is reused under this license.


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