The most attractive part of this little river valley village is hidden away behind the main A623 road. There are found charming stone cottages and smart modern houses existing in comparative harmony close by the ancient village Cross.
It was only after the first bridge had been built across the Derwent and lead mining became popular, that the village began to take shape from an isolated community of scattered dwellings. In 1778, a small mill was built close to the new bridge and this was soon followed by the building of a much larger water-powered cotton mill. The second building was destroyed and replaced by the impressive seven-storey granite building that still remains today. No longer used for industry, it has been converted into luxury apartments.
The Mill achieved national recognition shortly after the Second World War, when it was featured as ‘Colditz,’ the notorious German POW camp, in a popular television series. During the series the swastika flew high above the mill, but no one was fooled. This was not the case during the war itself, when lights were lit on the moors nearby, fooling the German bomber pilots into thinking that Sheffield lay below and releasing their loads harmlessly onto the moors.
Calver is one of a combined parish of three with Curbar and Froggatt, but is the oldest and largest. It is composed of three separate settlements, laid out in a roughly triangular fashion with Calver Bridge on the east. Calver Sough in the north and Calver itself fill the remaining area. The sough, which gives the area its name, dates back to the lead mining era. Underground channels were dug, called ‘soughs,’ to free the mines from flooding - the water flowing into a vast subterranean cavern.
A short walk past the entrance to Calver Mill leads to Stocking Farm, with its very dignified looking barn and interesting looking bell-tower. In the early 19th century, an upper room in the barn was used for religious services and later, it was also utilised as a school. When All Saints Church was consecrated in 1868, services were transferred and a few years later, the barn lost its school and bell.
Calver Bridge News and General Store ceased trading in 2003 and is to be used in future to exhibit paintings. For many years it operated as the village post office and shop. Before modern transport had taken such a strong hold on every day life, the postmaster collected the mail in a wheelbarrow from Froggatt about one mile away.
The post office (for sale 2003) with its VR post box, is now located in the former bakehouse on High Street, at the centre of the village by the Cross. The base of the Cross is very old and a stand pipe used to be attached to it, from where the villagers could draw water.
More modern in origin is the little plaque, by the Millennium Tree near the bottom of High Street, that records details of births in the village in the year 2000. Situated close to a small brook and with trees lining the roadside hereabouts, a very pleasant spot has been chosen to celebrate a new century.
Along Lowside, situated at the top of the hill is the Derwentwater Arms that looks down on the small, but immaculately maintained village cricket ground. Calver Cricket Club is one of the oldest cricket clubs in the country and there is a record of Princess Victoria attending a match their in 1832, almost 30 years before the formation of Derbyshire County Cricket Club.
On the Stoney Middleton side of the intersection of the A623 and the B6001, the former Heginbotham Boot Factory, where steel toe-capped boots were once manufactured, is now occupied by a factory shop. At the rear of the shop is a well-stocked Garden Centre and on the other side of the cross roads, an outdoor centre with a café, where you can sit inside or out. The Eyre Arms is on the opposite side of the road and behind it a petrol filling station that is now the only source of grocery provisions in the village.
The Little Shop on Hassop Road, established in 1919, now sells snacks and ice cream. It is certainly worth looking inside to see the neat rows of jarred sweets on display – normally never less than 90 jars. Originally, it was the domain of Fishy Bill, whose fish were not always as fresh as he claimed. His sense of smell being so poor, fish for not sold one week appeared on sale again following week. He also sold ice cream, but sales reduced after he had been seen washing his feet in the ice cream bucket.
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This is an easy, level walk, along riverside paths by the River Derwent between Calver and the pretty village of Froggatt. The riverbank is well wooded and there are good views of Froggatt Edge, near the midway point of the walk.
The return journey is along the opposite bank of the River Derwent and finally through fields to join the road leading from Calver Mill.
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