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The lost village that was...Scar House

[Tuesday 25 April 2006]

DETAILS of a lost Yorkshire village have surfaced after almost 80 years.

A Yorkshire Water contractor, and local history buff, has pieced together a detailed picture of what life was once like for the 1,250 villagers who lived and worked building a Nidderdale reservoir.

Scar House Reservoir - once home to those working on the project
Scar House Reservoir - once home to those working
on the massive dam project

Scar House Reservoir, near Ramsgill, is located amid the stunning scenery of Upper-Nidderdale and is surrounded by a wild, rugged and remote landscape which attracts more than 150,000 visitors a year.

The only clues remaining that point to the village that once was are sections of concrete foundations.

Andrew Bolt, who works for Yorkshire Water service partner Laing O'Rourke, has always had an interest in the history of Yorkshire, and now the Bradford historian has pieced together a detailed map of what Scar House Village once looked like back in the early 1920s.

Being Bradford-born Andrew began a campaign in 2000 to save the city's Odeon cinema, designed by the late architect William Illingworth. This led him to research Illingworth's work, including his work on Scar House Reservoir.

William Illingworth opened Scar House Reservoir on September 7th, 1937, as part of the Nidd Valley water supply scheme which is to this day Bradford's main source of water.

Andrew said: "Today, visitors will notice that the car park is set on different levels and this represents what used to be the family homes and bungalows of the workers.

"The first thing you notice when you drive towards Scar House is the remaining weathered structures of what once formed the village."

Andrew Bolt and the Scar House maps
Andrew Bolt and the Scar House maps

The main aim of the project was to clearly identify exactly what stood in the grounds of Scar House all those years ago, and Andrew has discovered that there was a gymnasium, hospital, canteen, fish shop and even a cinema. And believe it or not, the original projection booth still stands today.

Andrew added: "The village was built in 1922 so that the workers could construct and finish the dam wall which was completed by 1937.

After the reservoir was finished the village was dismantled, although some concrete foundations still exist today and you can even sight some of the original railway track that runs into the village. The amazing thing is that even the original canteen still stands - but as Darley's village hall."

Andrew has now completed a site map that shows the original layout of the village between 1920 and 1937 that clearly identifies the positions of all the original structures and indicates where exactly each building used to stand.

Andrew continued: "This is not only a great place to come for a walk but it has so much history behind it. You can even spot a villager's footprint in a concrete block from all those years ago."

Feedback received for this article:

  • I was very interested in the Scar House item, I was walking both there and Angram this last Sunday.

    It was a glorious day.

  • Pete S.

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