Rochdale Corporation chose Watergrove as a suitable site to build a large reservoir largely to a prolonged drought in the 1930's, resulting in water regularly being bought from Oldham. The ruins of the old village of Watergrove submerged under the large expanse of water in 1938, and dotted around the landscape above the reservoir there are several ruins originally belonging to the drowned village.
The book "Watergrove: A history of the valley and it's drowned village" by Allen Holt gives a personal view of the transition as the author grew up in Wardle, a mile to the south of Watergrove. Several photographs in the book show people walking along roads that have resurfaced during times of extreme drought.
On Sunday 27th July 2008, a 13-year old boy named Joseph Thomas was tragically found dead in the reservoir after he had gone swimming with friends.