Back To Top

A STEP BACK IN TIME Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund we present an archive of photographs, documents & video, which has been unavailable to the general public until now.

In the beginning

Rudyard has been identified as an estate called Rudegeard in the early 11th century. The name is derived from Old English words meaning the shrub rue and an enclosure.

Later it was known as Rodehyerd or Rudierd and consisted of scattered farms, stretched from Gun Hill towards Horton.

Constructing the Dam

In 1797, Parliamentary permission was granted for the dam to be constructed, flooding the picturesque valley.

Thus began the fascinating story of industrial & social change within the area.

The Early Years

For 50 years after the Reservoir was built, Rudyard was a peaceful place with only the surrounding landowners allowed access to the shoreline and the lake itself!

1849 marked the opening of the North Staffordshire Railway Churnet Valley Branch. This didn't go down too well with Fanny Bostock, who had inherited Cliffe Park Hall from her cousin (and lover!) John Haworth. She fought a 5 year long high court action and ultimately secured a permanent injuction preventing the NSR from using the lake for commercial activities.

Portrait of Fanny Bostock c.1840
John Haworth

Open for business

In 1903, North Staffs Railway Co acquired the Cliffe Park estate and a year later they secured an act of parliament to allow commercial activities on the lake.

After overturning the Bostock act of 1856, the NSR were now empowered to rent out motor launches and rowing boats on the lake, and by 1905 a golf course had been laid out, using Cliffe Park as the clubhouse.


Rudyard offered ordinary folk a wealth of distractions away from their everyday lives.


A number of boathouses began to appear, including ``The Lady of the Lake``, built for the Davenport family, silk manufacturers from Leek.

Boat Hire

Boat hire was available on both sides of the lake. Companies operated by the Heath and Halls were fiercely competitive.


The North Staffordshire Railway would arrange all kinds of events, including tightrope walks and regattas.

Golf Club

Rudyard Lake Golf Club was formed in 1906 and was the first golf club in North Staffordshire.



Many child evacuees were sent to live in Rudyard during the war years.

We are lucky to have many accounts from the evacuees who came to Rudyard as well as photos and documents about soldiers who served in both wars. The video section has several videos about Rudyard during the war, including a short documentary called 'Recollections of Rudyard' as well as a talk by local resident, Geoff Buxton.

Isaac Bailey, WW1.
Harry Bailey, WW1.



History is being made every day. Here are the latest articles from our volunteers. We welcome contributions from the public so please do not hesitate to contact us.


Make a splash with WaveRide, designed for everyone passionate about all things surfing.

184 Main Collins Street Victoria 8007
Follow Us: