Bamford - where residents have their village at heart

PUBLISHED: 16:52 26 January 2015 | UPDATED: 16:52 26 January 2015

Paul Towers, Simon Hill, Sarah Bawden and Liz Marshall

Paul Towers, Simon Hill, Sarah Bawden and Liz Marshall

ruth downing

Ruth Downing travels to the Hope Valley where villagers had the ambitious plan to buy the last remaining pub and turn it into a community hub

The Angler's RestThe Angler's Rest

Finding the future of their local pub, The Angler’s Rest, under threat, the residents of Bamford became increasingly worried about the effect its loss would have on their community. Following a number of public meetings a decision was made to try to obtain the leasehold. Then the opportunity arose, if sufficient funding could be found, to purchase the freehold and so the villagers plunged into action.

In the summer of 2013 Bamford Community Society was formed, a share offer was launched and it soon became clear that enough villagers were willing to take on the commitment of buying the public house and there were even plans to relocate the Post Office there. A purchase price of £275,000 was agreed with the owners and all seemed set fair. However, as always, things did not run entirely smoothly.

All the funding was in place and the pub had been registered as an Asset of Community Value when the Society learned that the owners, Admiral Taverns, had sold the pub to a property developer. A successful media campaign drew attention to the situation and with the added support of local MP Andrew Bingham, the sale was rescinded and Bamford Community Society was able to secure the purchase of the Angler’s Rest and guarantee its future as a Community Hub.

A team of volunteers thoroughly cleaned and decorated the premises and after closing for just five days, the pub re-opened for business as one of the first community-owned pubs in the county. In order to generate another necessary stream of income and give it a more universal appeal, the decision was made to close off a little used storeroom area and convert it into a bright and airy café. Once again volunteers rose to the occasion and in less than a month, by December 2013, the Rest Café had opened its doors. It is now a welcoming meeting place for local people of all ages as well as cyclists, walkers and visitors to this lovely part of the Peak District. A combination of good quality produce and affordable prices ensured the support of the whole community, and by January 2014 the Post Office had moved in, too.

Gillian Coe, Maureen Colley, Ann Havenhand, Jenny Cartlidge and Ray Deane take a break from lunch to pose with Society directors Sarah Bawden, Simon Hill, Paul Towers and Liz MarshallGillian Coe, Maureen Colley, Ann Havenhand, Jenny Cartlidge and Ray Deane take a break from lunch to pose with Society directors Sarah Bawden, Simon Hill, Paul Towers and Liz Marshall

By March 2014 the Rest Bistro opened and plans were put forward to develop bunk-house and B&B accommodation. However, not content with the success of this venture, members of the Community Society then secured grant funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund to help create a sustainable farmers’ market. The inaugural market took place in October and they now take place monthly on the third Saturday from 9am to 1pm in the car park at the Angler’s Rest – a special Christmas market was planned for 20th December. Not only does the market complement other businesses in the area, offering a direct outlet for suppliers of artisan products and home-grown produce, it also gives the community access to good quality and affordable local produce. There are also plans to offer a food box service to anyone with health or mobility issues.

We frequently hear worrying talk of the decline of village society in the 21st century, but here in Derbyshire is a shining example of people who are prepared to unite and invest money, time and effort in the future of their community.

Resident Diana Barlow being served by Paul Towers in the Post OfficeResident Diana Barlow being served by Paul Towers in the Post Office

For further information on Bamford Farmers’ Market please contact Paul on 07593 345514.

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