(Victorian to Early 20th Century - 1899 AD to 1912 AD)
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The small settlement of Birchinlee - or 'Tin Town' as it became known - was created in 1901, taking its name from an existing farmhouse situated at the north end of the settlement. It was built as workmen's accommodation for those involved with the construction of the Howden and Derwent reservoirs. The site is now under a plantation of young trees and is discernible only as a series of platforms parallel to the modern road which runs at the western side of the Derwent Reservoir. Some of the concrete foundation rafts are still visible although these are becoming overgrown with vegetation. Brick and stone chimney stack foundations are also in evidence in one or two instances and the previous allotment gardens can be seen as a path of variant vegetation. The archaeological evidence for the former settlement will doubtless suffer considerable damage as the plantation matures. (1)
The Derwent Valley Water Act was passed in 1899 and included a clause stating that satisfactory accommodation had to be provided for the workforce. The brief for the accommodation was won by the lowest cost tender. The majority of buildings were purely functional - plain corrugated iron shells, wood-lined inside for insulation, although there were small-scale architectural embellishments on one or two of the civic buildings. The occupants were rent-paying tenants and had to abide by sets of rules and regulations, with different sets produced for workmen's dormitories, married quarters and foremen. The settlement, called Birchinlee Village but widely known as Tin Town, was laid out on rigorously planned formal lines based both on a functional engineering basis and the belief that settlement organisation could improve workers' morals and behaviour. Tin Town was abandoned in late 1912 and the huts were either sold or demolished over the next two years. Many were reused during World War One as a POW prison, while one of the married quarters survives as a hairdresser's in the nearby village of Hope. The short life of Tin Town, occupied for just 14 years, has left both a rich folklore and a well preserved archaeological site. When the corrugated iron buildings were removed, their footprints remained as earthworks or brick and stone foundations. These, together with the terraces on which they were built, Derwent Valley Water Board plans and contemporary photograph postcards, allow the interpretation of the layout of the settlement and its relationship to the landscape. Buildings included houses for 'officers' (the village inspector, policeman and missionary), unmarried workmen's huts, a canteen, a post office, a recreation centre, shops and public baths, foremen's huts, an accident hospital, a school and adjacent schoolmaster's house and married workmen's huts. (2)
Unpublished document: Sidebottom, P (PDNPA). 1995. Hern Side to Lockerbrook, Hope Woodlands, Derbyshire, archaeological survey, 1995. Features 36-39, 46.
Article in serial: Bevan, B (PDNPA). 2006. 'Village of the dammed: Upper Derwent's tin Town and planned navvy settlement', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 126, pp 103-126.
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Centred SK 16603 91518 (277m by 534m)
HOPE WOODLANDS, HIGH PEAK, DERBYSHIRE
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Record last edited
Jul 17 2015 3:08PM
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