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Scammonden Church, reservoir and damGoogle map
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scammonden in West Yorkshire is in the valley of the Dean Brook surrounded by the moorland of the South Pennines to the east of Blackstone EdgeGritstone escarpment in the South Pennines rising to 1,549 feet (472 m) above sea level. About 900 of the chapelry’s 1711 acres (692 ha) were enclosed in 1820, but the surrounding hills are uncultivated rough pasture.

Most of the village was flooded in the 1960s when Scammonden Dam and the M62 trans-Pennine motorway were constructed across the valley and Scammonden Bridge carrying the B6114 road over the motorway was built across a deep cutting to the north west.


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Scammonden Reservoir and the M62 motorwayGoogle map
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scammonden occupies the valley of the Dean Brook and hillsides on either side between the B6114 Saddleworth Road and the A640 New Hey Road to the south of the M62 motorway. The scattered, scarcely populated settlement of Pole Moor stretches along New Hey Road and Pole Gate in the eastern corner. It is 1¾ miles (2.8 km) north of Slaithwaite and 7½ miles (12.1 km) west of Huddersfield. The Dean Brook is in the South Pennine moorlands to the east of Blackstone Edge. The chapelry covered 1711 acres and about 900 acres on the lower slope were enclosed in 1820 but the surrounding hills are uncultivated rough pasture. The deep v-shaped valley contained the village with a church and scattered farms. Roads from Elland, Huddersfield and Manchester passed through the village.[1]

Scammonden’s geography was changed after a dam carrying a motorway across the Dean Head Valley was proposed in the early 1960s. The dual-purpose dam carrying the M62 motorway on the dam wall now crosses the valley creating the Scammonden ReservoirScammonden Reservoir in the South Pennines supplies water to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire.. The motorway passes through a cutting to the west over which Scammonden Bridge, the country’s largest single-span fixed-arch bridge, carries the B6114 road.[2]


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St Bartholomew’s Church
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scammonden’s name is derived from an Old Norse personal name, Skammbein, and denu the Old English word for a valley.[3]

Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Scammonden or Dean Head covered a large tract of moorland and valley. A chapel was built in 1615[4] and Scammonden became a chapelry in the Huddersfield ecclesiastical parishAncient or ancient ecclesiastical parishes encompassed groups of villages and hamlets and their adjacent lands over which a clergyman had jurisdiction.. The chapel was rebuilt at a cost of £1000 in 1813.[1] It was replaced by St Bartholomew’s Church in 1865.[5]

In the 1870s the village had a church, a national school, a post office and 190 houses. Industry included cotton-spinning and woollen manufacture and quarrying for freestone.[1] Most buildings in the village were demolished or submerged when the reservoir was filled in 1969.[6] Geologists considered the church and school would become unsafe once the dam was full and the church school closed in 1970. It is now a private residence.[4] The church roof was replaced in 2002 with the aid of grants from English Heritage.[4]

Pole Moor

Pole Moor Baptist Chapel
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Baptists built their first chapel at Pole Moor on waste land in 1790. It was replaced by a new chapel in 1859.[7] The chapel was built on sparcely populated Pennine moorland, 1150 feet above sea-level, at the edge of the plateau where the land falls away to the south towards the Colne Valley and towards the north overlooking the valley of the Dean Brook.[8]

In 1806 the Huddersfield to Rochdale turnpike road was built over Pole Moor. It improved the old road from·Huddersfield to Pole Moor where several packhorse routes converged at the Royal George Inn, one from Halifax to Marsden.[8]

Reservoir and motorway

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Scammonden Bridge
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The M62 motorway passes through the Pennine hills where weather conditions are among the harshest in the country. It required a route that could stay open in bad weather. When it was planned, the Huddersfield Water Authority was considering sites for a reservoir. They suggested that by siting the dam across the Dean Head Valley on the route of the motorway, a tall dam could create a larger reservoir. Work on the trans-Pennine motorway began in 1964.[6] Designed by Rofe, Kennard and Lapworth and built by Sir Alfred MacAlpine, Scammonden Dam creates a reservoir and supports a stretch of the motorway between junctions 22 and 23. Scammonden Bridge, the country’s largest single-span fixed-arch bridge, carries the B6114 road over the motorway at the Deanhead cutting.[2]



Hinson. “Huddersfield: Huddersfield Pole Moor Baptist Church History up to 1912.” Genuki,
ICE. “M62 and Scammonden Dam.” Institution of Civil Engineers,
KEPN. “Scammonden.” Key to English Places Names,
Lewis, Samuel. “Scammonden.” A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848, pp. 26–30,
The C of E. St Bartholomew West Scammonden and Dean Head, West Scammonden. A church near you,
Wheeler, Heather. “Pole Moor Baptist Chapel, Scammonden, Huddersfield.” Baptist Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 3, 1997, pp. 108–30,