Sitting pretty within beautiful Nidderdale, Thruscross Reservoir is unsuspectingly beautiful at first glance, just like the rest of our counties gorgeous water spots. But what makes it truly unique? The fact that a whole village lurks underneath its waters.
Once known as West End, the village was formerly home to around six houses right before it became submerged, with locals describing it as a ‘ghost town’ even way back in the early 1900s.
Sacrificed to provide water for West Yorkshire dwellers, West End saw its final days back in 1966, when Thruscross Reservoir was completed – with Yorkshire Water taking over the site, who now manage it for the benefit of walkers and local wildlife.
But what was it that led West End into such abandonment? While West Yorkshire’s flax industry absolutely thrived during the late 17th and 18th centuries, come the 19th century, synthetics were all the rage – and the industry began to dwindle.
This spelled bad news for West End, the home of its very own flax mill, as residents began to flee the area for other work.
Now, all that’s left is the crumbling rocks that once made up the village’s buildings – with more and more revealed when the reservoir’s water levels lower.
What looks like unassuming piles of rubble sitting by the waterside tells the story of many lives before our own, including flax mill workers, mothers and children.
Flooding the village wasn’t as easy (or savage as it may sound), and a lot of work went into actually creating Thruscross Reservoir back in the 60s. We’re talking the exhuming of bodies that were buried in the local graveyard, relocating said bodies so families could pay their respects at a new gravesite, the removal and relocation of sacred items – a lot of thought went into the process, leaving little behind once the time came to fill the valley with water.
Luckily, the workers did a fantastically thorough job when creating the reservoir, and no mysterious horrors have been unveiled during summer droughts.
Today, walkers can spot the ruins of the former flax mill poking out of the reservoir, as well as rows of bricks that would have formerly made up the walls of someone’s home, field dividers and even the village’s old bridge. The most significant ruin, however, is that of Holme Field Head, which stands on the reservoir’s bank and still contains a number of rooms inside.
The lost village of West End can be seen best during the summer days when the reservoir is experiencing drought-like conditions, and you can explore the area as part of the Thruscross Reservoir walk.