Background to Farming and Industry
Water, wood, coal, clay and gritstone were the elements of industrial growth for Sheffield. Those valleys which bound the parish, the Rivelin, Don and Ewden and our Loxley bear witness to the energy and inventiveness of the people. Of particular interest is the Loxley Valley walk. The remains of five water driven mills are to be seen, perhaps the most notable is that of the Little Matlock Wheel.
Water is still a key resource for the City and although, in the Loxley valley Gannister is no longer worked for crucible pots, a modern industry remains in Stannington to serve the hi-tech steel industry of today. At Wharncliffe Side and Oughtibridge there is a large paper mill and in each of the larger communities in the parish there are small industrial enterprises
Four thousand years ago the first farmers settled in the parish, evidence of this is the stone circle, situated northwest on Broomhead moors, believed to have been used as a calendar.
When the Romans arrived two thousand years ago land was cultivated with oxen and wooden troughs, the Romans created roads that enabled Salt to be carried from Cheshire to preserve food through the winter. These routes of which the Racker Way (lower Stannington) is one, can still be seen today on the ridges of the hills going through villages and hamlets such as Stannington, Dungworth and High Bradfield. With the Romans came the horse, this replaced the oxen and more work was accomplished.
A thousand years ago the Norman conquest influenced the farming community with the introduction of taxes. Here farmers had to make a profit for these taxes to be paid. Iron tool replaced wooden tools to give a higher standard of cultivation.
About two hundred years ago saw the introduction of the enclosure act. This changed the look of the countryside. In Bradfield parish the abundant stone in the soil gave the area a lot of small fields. The influence of the industrial revolution had a large effect on the people, who moved from the countryside to Sheffield to gain a higher standard of living.
Farming today in Bradfield Parish
The Parish lies between the Derwent in the northwest, the Don in the north and the Rivelin to the south, the river Loxley runs through the middle.
Much of the Parish lies above 1000 feet – to a large extent this is moorland and forestry grazed by sheep and used for extensive grouse shooting.
The lower slopes are used mainly for dairy farming, stock rearing or grazing for sheep.
The dairy industry appears to be in decline at the moment with many farmers leaving that particular branch of the industry. Alternative uses have to be found – conversion of barns for holiday lets, livery, garden centres, catteries and dog kennels.
There is some cereal growing but it is not on a large scale.
The Loxley Valley appears to be very popular with the market garden/garden centres. On the south facing slopes of this valley there are now 4 of these establishments with a fifth situated adjacent to the Parish Boundary in Loxley.
Biodiversity is the latest development within the Parish. The very latest in this particular area concerns the bird population. Some farmers are being encouraged to ensure that their fields contain an agricultural ingredient which will enhance the the wild-life population.
Biodiversity actually covers a wide range of farming activities and as the name suggests – a diverse range of living things from the wild -life through to different types of growth products.