Slideshow: Retro - Bradfield, beauty and disaster

Have your say

Our Retro A to Z of Sheffield returns to the Loxley Valley, to a beautiful village where one of Britain’s worst peacetime disasters began.

Actually Bradfield is two villages, High and Low.

Farm land at Bradfield, Nr Sheffield, looking back towards Strines - 5th July 1977

Farm land at Bradfield, Nr Sheffield, looking back towards Strines - 5th July 1977

St Nicholas Parish Church in High Bradfield dates from 1487 and stands 860ft above sea level. The Norman font in the church is said to have been given by the Cistercian monks of Roche Abbey.

A multi-angled building at the church gate is the Watch House, which was built to prevent body-snatching in the churchyard.

Bradfield Parish Council’s part-time archivist Malcolm Nunn said in 2009 that parish records “seem to suggest that there was demand for bodies from a medical research centre in Sheffield, which led to people coming out to quiet villages to dig up recently interred bodies”.

The Old Work House, which is opposite the Old Horns pub in what is now a row of cottages, was built in 1769 and could cater for 60 inmates. It was in use until another workhouse was built at Grenoside in 1850.

The village of Low Bradfield lies about half a mile away down the steep hillside.

The lbbotson Memorial Field was given to the village by the Ibbotson family, who lived in the village for more than 400 years. Their home, Burnside, overlooks the field.

Documents relating to the poorhouse and workhouse are among thousands that were digitised in 2009 and are available online

Malcolm Nunn said at the time: “These people were destitute, they were paid for by the parish rates and a lot of them seemed to spend their whole lives there, even training youngsters who came into the poorhouse.”

Some of the records are ‘bastardy bonds’, which fathers of illegitimate children were pressured into signing so that parishes didn’t have to pay for the children’s upkeep.

The documents can be accsssed at

Dale Dike Reservoir at High Bradfield was the starting point of the Sheffield Flood, when on the night of March 11, 1864, a crack in an embankment gave way.

As journalist Samuel Harrison described in his 1864 book, A Complete History of the Great Flood at Sheffield: “An overwhelming Flood swept down from an enormous reservoir at Bradfield, carrying away houses, mills, bridges, and manufactories, destroying property variously estimated at from half a million to two millions sterling in value, and causing the loss of about two hundred and fifty human lives.”