O Derwent, lone village, set snug in a fold,
’Neath the bleak, lonely moorland, so rugged and bold,
Thy rivers and streamlets of which thou art proud,
Too soon will o’erwhelm thee and make thee a shroud.
Thy beautiful valley, mid vast rolling hills,
My heart full of sadness thy passing now fills;
Thy homesteads, thy mansions, thy church, even so,
Beneath the bleak waters must all of them go?
Thy meadows and pastures where cattle did browse,
Where the lark with his song in the morning did rouse
All his friends from their slumbers to greet the new day,
Too soon now their haunts will be hidden away.
Proud home of Fitzalan, far-famed Derwent Hall,
How stately thy rising, how ghastly thy fall;
In thy heyday a mansion, in decline a retreat,
Where the weary could rest tired bones, aching feet.
Oh, it is not the wealthy thy loss will deprive,
But workers, whose weekend, escaped from the hive,
It brought freedom and leisure to breathe the fresh air,
And at sunset sweet solace, thy shelter to share.
By thy streams I have wandered in the shade of Back Tor,
With never a thought for the time passing o’er,
My mind filled with dreaming, my heart filled with peace,
Beside the clear waters whose songs never cease.
Thy vale of sweet memories, so soon to be filled,
By the streamlets that o’er thy ramparts are spilled;
Through ravine, through crevice, through patches of moss,
My heart is nigh breaking to think of the loss.
This is a contemporary song about Yorkshire.
I recorded Ivy May in 1999 at her home in Ecclesfield, Sheffield. Ivy is a singer at the Booit Straps Folk Club at Chapeltown, Sheffield.
When we had finished recording Ivy gave me a book of poems about Ecclesfield. Everyone knows that Sheffield is famous for its cutlery, however Ecclesfield people made knives and forks, files and rasps as a cottage industry to be finished off in Sheffield. The book of poems also included a poem by a well know Ecclesfield poet, Jimmy Roebuck, who was Ivy’s uncle. This poem was printed in the South Yorkshire Times in March 1943. Ivy May put this tune to the song.
Derwent village is just in Derbyshire and the flooding of the village was needed to provide water for Sheffield industries in particular. At the outbreak of war the need for steel was aided by the creation of reservoirs, but at a cost to the people, in particular from the nearby area of Sheffield who loved to walk in the countryside away from what was then a very dirty city due to industrial effluent.