It’s a year since I visited The Anglers Rest*, the community-owned pub in Bamford in the Peak District National Park. I was shown round by my friend Peter Townsend, who was one of the band who rescued it in October 2013.
Originally known as the Anglers’ Inn, it was built in 1870 as a staging inn on the Mortimer turnpike road connecting Grindleford and Penistone. It comprised an inn and stables (which are now the snug).
By 1876 the name had changed to The Anglers’ Rest. It is not known why it is called this, except that fishing has long been popular on the nearby River Derwent.
During the First World War the inn was used as an auction house, meeting place, venue for inquests and a public house. It was a well-known place to dine in the mid twentieth century, but towards the end of the century it was declining. It passed from brewery to brewery, ending up with the newly-created Pub Companies and then Admiral Taverns.
Six local people challenged the manager for doing a poor job. He banned them from the pub and this galvanised them into forming the Bamford Community Society. In early 2013 the society registered The Anglers Rest as an Asset of Community Value, the first in the High Peak Borough in Derbyshire. They raised £263,500 from 328 shareholders and were able to buy the pub.
They turned it into a community hub, with pub, café, post office and bunkhouse. The village post office had recently closed.
There is a wide range of activities to attract people to the pub, such as quiz nights, live bands and craft workshops which you can read about here.
When I visited in the afternoon 21 March 2019 it was buzzing with activity. Peter and I had coffee in the cafe, and I browsed the art exhibition which changes every month.
Peter told me how he had hatched the plan to buy a painting by local artist Sue Prince, appropriately called Work together. Sue is well known as a contemporary folk-artist from Beechenhill in the White Peak, and had served on the Peak District National Park authority for many years (in fact I chaired the board which appointed her on behalf of the environment secretary). Peter suggested that they invite Sue to exhibit her works, and she gave a talk about her egg tempera folk-art paintings. The audience seemed to warm to her painting Work together and Peter decided it should be bought for the pub. He invited contributions and the money was soon raised.
The pub’s slogan, ‘More than a pub, a community hub’, is very apt. It recently featured on BBC Countryfile and is a great example of cooperation, benefiting local residents and visitors, providing local employment and boosting the food supply-chain.
Now, sadly, the pub and café have been temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, but the post office remains open from 9am to 7pm, and the hub is still serving takeaway food and drinks from noon to 7pm, which is impressive.
* I fear the apostrophe has been omitted.