Bradwell (or Bradda as it is known locally) owns something of a distinction. A sprawling but interesting collection of old cottages, the village actually retains a significant amount of local industry and is not dependant on tourism. Engineering, quarrying and ice cream-making are all important here but have surprisingly limited impact on the appeal of the settlement they serve.
A view of Hope cement works
Like many other villages of the area, Bradwell was once an important centre for lead-mining (the 'Bradda Beaver' hat was universally worn in the lead mines in the 19th century) and the moor above the village is scarred by the remains of many mines, some of which are now being worked for Fluorspar.
The discreet charms of Bradwell are fairly well hidden from the average passer-by, for the main part of the village clings to a steep hillside above the main road and can hardly be seen. The centre of the village, which lies above the brook just south of the main road, is a rabbit-warren of tiny cottages and narrow lanes with picturesque names like Soft Water Lane, Hungry Lane and Hollowgate. From here the houses spread right up the hillside, from where there are fine views across the Hope Valley.
Though most of the village dates from the lead-mining era, Bradwell has a long history - the narrow street called Smalldale follows the line of the Roman road between Brough and Buxton. A Saxon earthwork called the Grey Ditch runs from Bradwell Edge to Micklow Hill near the New Bath Hotel, where there is a thermal spring and the remains of a Roman Bath were found.
On the road to Tideswell up Bradwell Dale lies Hazelbadge Hall, one of the oldest houses in the area, which was built in 1549 and still has the arms of the Vernon family on its wall. Bradwell is also noted as the home of Samuel Fox, the inventor of the modern umbrella mechanism. His house is marked with a plaque and lies just off the main street.
Also of interest is the home of Bradwell's Home-made Dairy Ice Cream, in the centre of the village, and Bagshawe Cavern, (open to visitors & adventure caving groups) up the hill to the South.
Brough is a nearby small hamlet on the banks of the River Noe, important in Roman times as the site of the Anavio fort, an important factor in the Roman occupation of the Peak District. Here Batham Gate, the Roman road from Buxton, met the roads from Melandra (near Glossop) and that which came from Sheffield and Doncaster via Stanage edge. On the mound behind the modern hamlet the Romans built a wooden stockade about AD70 and this was replaced by a stone one around AD150. Altars and a commemorative stone from the fort are in the Buxton museum. After about AD200 the fort was only intermittently garrisoned but a settlement grew up around this important road junction.