Bamford is more than just a station on the Hope Valley line between Hope and Hathersage, although first time visiting passengers stepping off a train here could be forgiven for thinking otherwise; for the railway station seems somewhat detached from the village, lying as it does some three quarters of a mile to the south. It is nearer in fact from the station to the well known "˜Marquis of Granby' hotel which lies beside the main A625 Sheffield to Chapel-en-le-Frith road and opposite the junction with the A6013, which runs up through Bamford village to link with the A57 Snake Pass near Ladybower Reservoir.
Bamford is difficult to catagorise geographically, for although its railway station lies on the Hope Valley Line the village is not strictly in the Hope Valley; it is the sole survivor of three original villages in the Upper Derwent Valley - the other two, Ashopton and Derwent having been drowned sixty years ago by the waters of the Ladybower Reservoir, opened by King George V1 in September 1945.
As with all peakland hill villages Bamford presents a different countenance to the visitor depending on the weather and the season. In the stark winter months the dark gritstone buildings which line the roadside beneath the towering bulk of Baslow Edge, add to the pervading gloom of the dank moorland atmosphere which surrounds and permeates the village.
But when the sun shines, south-facing Bamford lights up and is miraculously transformed into a smiling, handsome village of character which visitors and residents alike find desirable to inhabit.
Bamford is no tourist haven like its romantic neighbour Hathersage, which lies three miles or so eastward along the Hope Valley; neither does it have any ancient history to attract visitors like its other neighbour Hope, five miles away in the opposite direction. But judging by the caravan sites and the growing number of B & B signs that have sprung up around the village over the past few years, Bamford gets an increasing tourist trade owing to its location as the nearest village to the Ladybower and Derwent Reservoirs -in fact part of Ladybower lies within Bamford parish.
It also has something that its two neighbours don't have - an 18-hole golf course at Sickleholme, down near the station!
Bamford's early history is obscure. It was named in the Domesday Book, but only as an outlier of Hathersage, from which it was not detached until it eventually became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1860. The name itself derives from the early English "˜Beam-ford', which literally means "˜wooden footbridge', although as historian Roy Christian points out "this probably refers to an early ancestor of Yorkshire Bridge spanning the Derwent north of the village"?. The `ford-with-a-beam' lay on an ancient trade-route which led northwards from the Hope Valley and across the moors into Yorkshire.
It was the last crossing place over the Derwent before the Yorkshire border and was documented in 1599 as no more than a wooden foot-bridge. But in 1695 this wooden structure was replaced by a new stone-built bridge far better suited to bear the weight of the pack-horse teams led by the jaggers, to whom it became a familiar landmark and who named it "˜Yorkshire Bridge'. Now a tiny hamlet within the parish of Bamford, Yorkshire Bridge has a cosy Inn of the same name and three long rows of gritstone cottages built on the sloping east bank of the Derwent between the Inn and the bridge itself.
By comparison with the majority of Derbyshire villages, Bamford is a relatively modern settlement with most of its buildings dating from the early Victorian period through to modern dwellings for the disabled, erected in recent years higher up the hill past the church. In between, during the middle years of the twentieth century, small housing estates were built at around 600 feet to the east of the road where it levels out as it climbs upwards and northwards through the village from the floor of the Hope Valley. Here you will find the popular Derwent Hotel, and on the opposite side of the road as it snakes upwards toward Bamford Edge stands the quaint village post office, staffed since 1994 by Kevin McVeigh and his wife.
On a bend opposite the Post Office is a pleasant triangular arbour of trees with public seating around the base of the tallest of them; this is Bamfords equivalent of a village green.
To the west of the road the land falls more steeply to the river, and here is perhaps the oldest dwelling in the village - the Tudor farmhouse owned by the Platt family who farm 150 acres on the south facing slope overlooking the Valley. "˜The Farm', as this magnificent sixteenth century structure is named, is one of the few remaining farms in an area where for centuries agricuture provided the main source of employment.
The construction of the Hope - Penistone turnpike road in the late 1770's presaged some growth in Bamford but Stephen Glover writing in the 1820's described it as, "a small village hamlet of 42 families comprising 263 people, of whom 22 families are chiefly employed in agriculture and 20 in trade and handicraft"?.
Within sixty years Bamfords population had doubled and industry had taken over from agriculture as the main employment - thanks to Bamford Mill and the Cameron Moore family who not only provided employment and houses for the workforce, but also built and endowed the village with its schools, the church of St.John the Baptist, and its vicarage.
A 17th century corn mill was operated originally on the Derwent Valley site, but this was converted to cotton spinning and doubling by local farmer and miller Christopher Kirk, who lost everything when the mill was destroyed by fire on October 24th 1791. The site was purchased and the mill rebuilt around the turn of the 19th century by Manchester cotton magnate H.Cameron Moore using gritstone from Bamford Edge high above the village. He also built the present weir to provide power to drive the water-wheel, which in turn drove the spinning and doubling machines until it was replaced by a 60 hp. beam engine in the 1850's. By this time Samuel M. Moore and Son employed 170 workers at Bamford Mill.
Fine Spinners and Doublers Ltd bought the mill in 1902 and in 1907 the old beam engine was replaced by a horizontal steam engine which operated until October 1965 when the mill's cotton spinning days finally ended. Carbolite bought it and for a few years used it to produce small electrical furnaces and scientific research equipment for laboratory use. Now, along with the "˜Colditz Castle' Mill at Calver and another at Cressbrook, the Bamford Mill has been converted into tasteful apartments and provides living accommodation for the inhabitants of what today is mainly a "˜commuter' village of 1500 or so residents. Many travel the short distance to work in Sheffield - or to the growing number of industries which stretch out increasingly along the floor of the Hope Valley.
Bamford has grown considerably from a simple wooden footbridge to a thriving rural community during its comparitively short life - and both residents and visitors alike know it as more than just a station on the Hope Valley Line - especially when the sun shines!
This article has been brought to you by our resident peak district writer Tom Bates
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