Community in focus: Why Bradfield is more than just bicycles and beer
Not many villages can lay claim to creating top quality beer and successfully hosting one of the world's most prestigious sporting events.
Bradfield – both higher and lower sections of this unique area of Sheffield – certainly stands out from the crowd.
With Bradfield Brewery shipping out gallons upon gallons of pints to pubs as far as Newcastle and Northampton – it’s no wonder people are proud to come from this thriving community.
And Bradfield was broadcast across the globe as it hosted Stage 1 of the Tour de France from York to Sheffield in 2014.
The village was propelled into the limelight when thousands lined the roads to cheer on cycling stars such as Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.
It was also the location of the seventh climb of the stage, the Category 4 Côte de Bradfield where a sign marking the summit now proudly stands for all to see.
But before the beer and cycling fame rolled into Bradfield, the area – which boasts four nearby reservoirs – attracted walkers and tourists all year round.
Bradfield also has one of Sheffield’s Grade I listed buildings – the church of St Nicholas is a focal point for tourists from as far away as China and the US.
Throw in Our Cow Molly ice cream in nearby Dungworth and the area certainly ticks a lot of boxes.
The fantastic scenery, a thriving community spirit and just 25 minutes’ drive to Sheffield city centre, there aren’t many places in the city that would offer a more attractive place to live and work.
The village also has its quirks. A community campaign to save a block of public toilets caught the imagination of residents – and people and businesses who donated money to Bradfield
Parish Council to keep them open have their name on a sign.
Bradfield was once a sleepy village but now its name has been well and truly cemented into beer folklore. Along with other Sheffield breweries, the area has really immersed itself in the national real ale revolution.
Josie Gill has worked for Bradfield Brewery for seven years. A country girl she grew up on a farm just down the road and said she wouldn’t live anywhere else.
She said business is great – especially now Dry January is over.
“Everyone loves Bradfield because it’s so picturesque but you seem to be 20 minutes from everything you need. It’s got fantastic views, great walks and a great community,” she said.
“I think the brewery has raised the profile of the area and it’s definitely got bigger. Everyone seems to know Bradfield and its beer and the village is more on the map.
“But a lot of the time, people will have heard of the beer but don’t know we’re actually rooted in the village and often walkers stumble across us that way.
“The Tour de France coming through Bradfield really helped us and the village a lot. We’ve seen a lot more walkers visiting the area since. The pubs have jumped on the back of that and they’re doing well too and they’re always packed at peak times.
“People are wanting local, good ale whether that’s from us or other Sheffield breweries. It’s fantastic to see.”
Just a stroll down the hill, sits the Old Horns Inn in Upper Bradfield.
Landlord John Wyke, aged 39, is another person who revels in the community spirit the village offers. He’s run the pub for nine years but had his eye on the place for many before that.
And the family links continue with his brother Ben running the Plough pub in Lower Bradfield.
On a weekday lunchtime in February the pub is packed – and the Tour de France has certainly helped trade.
“The Tour de France was incredible. It really has cemented our place on the map.
“We had two years to plan for it and the long weekend was phenomenal – everyone involved in the whole village was fantastic.
“It put us in the spotlight most definitely. We would never really get cyclists coming through Bradfield but since the tour you’ll always see them. We got a tonne of extra walkers practically overnight and we now get coach loads coming.
“There’s only one way Bradfield is going and that’s upwards.”
Heather Tingle, 39, runs The Flask End cafe and Bradfield Post Office.
She’s done so for five years and her quaint shop doubles up as a cafe, community hub, the Neighbourhood Watch outpost, first aid point, an information centre and a general focal point for anything that’s going on.
“The scenery is amazing and despite being in the Peak District some people don’t seem to know about it. It’s a little gem,” she said.
“The community is brilliant, we chip in and help each other out whatever the problem, someone will always lend a hand but it’s not cliquey either.
“We try to promote each other’s businesses and we work together to promote Bradfield so it’s beautiful for everyone. It’s a really special place, I’ve never been anywhere quite like it.”
Tourism and visitors are vital for Bradfield – and even on an overcast February afternoon, there are still some around.
One of them is Eve Akers, from Worrall.
The 75-year-old has history with Bradfield and has been visiting the village for almost 70 years. She recalled jumping on a bus with her friends from Langsett Road in Walkley and making a day of it.
“To me, Bradfield is a wonderful place. I’ve been coming for years and it’s really beautiful and tranquil.
“I love all the reservoirs and go walking around them often. I can’t think of a better place to come and visit in Sheffield.”
Strolling into Lower Bradfield, walker Gary Renton, 50, has come all the way from Disley in Cheshire for the day.
“Bradfield is lovely. I’ve been a few times now walking around these parts and it’s a great stop off.
“The people are friendly and the pubs are brilliant.”
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