The superbly situated village of Bamford stands at the heart of the Dark Peak, below Bamford Edge and close to the Ladybower Reservoir and the Upper Derwent Valley Dams. It is the sole surviving village in Derbyshire’s ‘Lake District.’ The villages of Ashopton and Derwent were submerged when the Ladybower Reservoir was constructed. King George VI performed the opening ceremony in 1945.
The Howden and Derwent Dams were built early in the 20th century. The 1,000 or so navvies and their families were housed in corrugated iron shacks at Birchinlee. The locals called it Tin Town. Purpose built houses were erected close to the reservoir, at Yorkshire Bridge, for the displaced villagers. One person refused to move, Miss A Cotterill, of Ginnett House, whose home looked down on the former hamlet of Derwent, remained there until she died in 1990, at the age of 99, the waters of the reservoir lapping at the front garden steps.
In an area so dominated by hills, with few fences in evidence and sheep in the ascendancy, it might be thought that the Industrial Revolution hadn’t had much of an effect. This is not the case - a corn mill operated at Bamford in the first half of the 18th century, then for a time cotton spinning, before the mill burnt down. The Moore family re-built the mill, and created a weir to provide more power to their cotton mill and gradually recruited a substantial workforce. Having changed hands several times, it closed in 1965 as a cotton mill. For a time the mill was used to make small electrical furnaces, but it has now been converted into accommodation.
In 1861, William Cameron Moore had the church and vicarage built at his own expense. Both are fine examples of the work of the noted Victorian architect, William Butterfield. Before 1860, Anglican services had been held in the National School, built nearly 40 years previously at the same time as the Wesleyan Chapel. Moore also gave generously towards the running of the schools and the village hall is named after him.
Joseph Tagg is buried in the Roman Catholic Churchyard. A well-known local sheep farmer who helped found Hope Valley Sheepdog Trials, he lived at Yorkshire Bridge during his later years. He won a succession of prizes throughout the country with his sheepdogs and even sold one to an American for £1,000. This is probably the first time so much money had been raised for the sale of a dog overseas.
On the 12 December 1953, Tagg, aged 85, went out for the last time with his faithful border collie, Tip, and vanished completely. Despite an exhaustive search, neither he nor his dog could be found. It was not until 15 weeks later that Tagg’s remains were discovered by chance, with the faithful Tip completely exhausted lying about five yards away. Somehow, Tip had managed to survive heavy snow, biting winds and freezing temperatures on one of the most hostile stretches of moorland in the country.
Tip was carried back to the rescuer’s lorry and later transferred to a caring home, where she was carefully nursed back to health. Once the story became known, Tip became famous not only in this country, but abroad as well. A year later, in May, 1955 she died. However, the hearts of those that had heard the story were so greatly touched, that a memorial was erected at the western end of Derwent Dam, in memory of Tip.
At the centre of the village in a pleasant, green triangle of land, is the Jubilee Stone commemorating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Opposite the green, is an unusual ‘V’ shaped stile, with a cut-out designed to allow a bucket of water to be carried from the trough at the rear.
Over the road is what must be one of the most picturesque post offices in the county, with its bay window and leaded panes and comfortable seat outside the door. It was once Bamford’s oldest public house, the Cheshire Cheese.
Bamford Railway Station, to the south of the village, is a popular stopping point on the Hope Valley line that links Sheffield to Manchester. On the road just below the station the Peak Park has re-erected the Mytham Bridge toll gate which used to stand nearby. This was one of the toll gates on the first turnpike in the area - built in 1758 to link Sheffield to Sparrowpit.
A well dressing festival takes place in mid-July, and another major event started in 2003, the Bamford Festival. The second festival was held in October 2004, featuring exhibitions and displays of creative work by local people, guided walks, landscape workshops, professional drama, storytelling and music. The village, though, is most famous for its sheep dog trials, which are held over the late Spring Bank Holiday.
The village is well served for refreshments with the Anglers' Rest and Derwent Arms, or you can sit outside Bamford Bakery with a cup of tea and a freshly baked Cornish pasty. Bamford Primary School is doing well and in 2004, the pupils won the prestigious Health Promotion Award for keeping themselves fit and healthy.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Castleton Caverns are without doubt the most spectacular collection of caverns in the country. Speedwell (Tel 01433 620512), Blue John (Tel 01433 620638), Treak (Tel 01433 620571) and Peak (Tel 01433 620285).
The Upper Derwent Visitor Centre, (Tel. 01433 650953) located at Fairholmes, close to the Derwent Dam. Fascinating facts can be found about the area through the interactive displays. Maps, books, postcards and souvenirs can be purchased. Drinks and light refreshments available. Picnic tables. Open weekends only during the first part of the year, daily for the rest of the year.
Ladybower and the Derwent Valley is a very popular area for visitors. The dams in the valley were used by Dr Barnes Wallis and his team to test his bouncing bombs, and the film The Dambusters was partly shot here.
The Anglers' Rest (Tel. 01433 659415) a traditional pub, built in 1876. Located just off the main street at the top of the village, it has a small out door section. Families are welcome. Open lunchtimes and evenings during the week and all day at weekends. Meals served lunchtimes and evenings and all day on Sundays.
The Bay Tree Coffee Shop (Tel. 01433 651323) within High Peak Garden Centre, on the A6187 between Hathersage and Bamford. Hot and cold snacks. Open daily. Seating outside.
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This lovely walk starts at the southern end of Derbyshire’s ‘Lake District’, at Heatherdene car park and picnic site, situated in one of the most picturesque spots in the county.
It continues through beautiful countryside with excellent views towards Win Hill and beyond, before visiting the attractive, gritstone village of Bamford. The return journey passes through pleasantly wooded countryside along a former railway track and the hamlet of Yorkshire Bridge.
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