News and Events

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Soul Food Night at the Cafe at the Cavern

24th November 7 for 7.30 pm Booking Essential

On Friday 24th November The Café Team are holding another fine dining experience. This time you can feed your soul with authentic and indulgent dishes from the Southern United States on Friday 24th November! Sit back, eat and relax at this one night only event with live music, atmospheric surroundings and great service. A PDF with the details is attached. You will need to book for this event so, please call 01298 26978 and ask for a member of the café team. Details are also on our website and Facebook page.

Click on the link below for more details

Details for the Soul Food Night


Alyson Phillips interviews Councillor Tony Kemp on the Octagon Refurbisment

The Octagon during refurbishment

The Grade II Victorian Concert Hall had to be closed last October for safety reasons, with repairs starting in March this year. It’s expected to re-open to visitors in late March/early April 2018.

Nasty Shocks Under the Floor and in the Roof

The Octagon was built directly on earth with brick sleeper walls supporting the floor. Significant deterioration had occurred and in nearly 50 places brickwork had been simply knocked through for services to be added. Recalling his shock when he saw photos, Councillor Kemp said, “Classic cars were exhibited on this floor worth as much as two and three hundred thousand pounds and who would have picked up the bill if one had fallen through that floor?”

Major work had been undertaken in 1951 when skilled labour and suitable materials were scarce but the priority was getting ‘things back to normal’. Visitors wanted a family day out in ’The Gardens’, despite rationing, to put the war years behind them. It was also a nasty surprise when remote cameras were sent into roof spaces and ‘…found things you wish it hadn’t!’

Building Remains under HPBC Ownership

Cllr Kemp assures us the buildings will remain in the ownership of High Peak Borough Council as does the Opera House, though it’s possible a Trust could be established in the future to enable access to more grants.

Commercial Interest Being Welcomed

Commercial confidentiality precluded detailed discussion but he said there have been several “expressions of interest” and HPBC expects to receive serious bids. He feels this is a much different prospect to a few years ago. In 2008/9 there was no commercial interest shown in The Gardens but the programme of refurbishment and repair since then has changed things.
Any company chosen to provide catering and/or retail services will not be able to do as they please with the building. Responsibility for maintenance of the building will remain with HPBC, but opening up opportunities should safeguard jobs and boost the local economy.

Councillor Kemp Welcomes Comment

The Council will welcome constructive comment from the public as it did ten years ago when the cafeteria was removed and replaced by Tourist Information and the art exhibition. This has proved a great success, though Cllr Kemp recalls a few complaints at the time about the loss of what most saw as a sort of “wartime cafeteria” with water leaking through the roof!

Spending on The Gardens, despite these successes, have been seen by some as a waste of council tax because it requires a subsidy due to the nature of the buildings. Cllr Kemp points out that even if the building was boarded up many costs would not go away because it would still need heating and maintenance to prevent deterioration. Our responsibility to Historic England mean HPBC has to keep the buildings in reasonable order… and although HE have been extremely helpful with planning heritage work they don’t provide cash!

New / Old Vintage Colour Scheme

All the old photographs are of course in black and white, and in living memory the paintwork has been just that. However, the Council commissioned historical research and analysis of paint chippings revealed a very different external colour scheme, which will be re-instated and gradually implemented for the rest of the buildings. Inside, inspection of untouched hidden areas showed a vibrant design which will also be brought back. “There will definitely be a reaction and all publicity is welcome!”

Buxton Adventure Festival 11th October 2017

BCA director and secretary, Martin Wragg, will be reminiscing about climbing with legendary mountaineers Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker whose disappearance whilst attempting the first ascent of the north-east ridge of Everest led to the creation of the internationally renowned Boardman Tasker Award for mountain literature.

Update on St Anne’s Well

Press Release from High Peak Borough Council regarding St Anne's Well 9th August 2017

'The water supply to the lion's mouth at St Anne's Well has been turned on again today (Wednesday 9 August).
The closures this summer are due to work to assess what needs to be done to reconnect the water to the refurbished Pump Room as part of the project to regenerate the Crescent and celebrate Buxton's heritage and its close association with the thermal spring waters.
We are confident that, once we have determined the best way to provide the new outlet, the supply to the St Anne's Well will be disrupted much less frequently.
We understand the frustration felt by people at the frequency of the closures this summer and we are working to minimise this and to make sure we are keeping people informed.
In the meantime, we'd like to thank you for your continued patience and understanding.'

Heritage Open Day Sunday 10th September – The RAF Bomb Store at Harpur Hill

The RAF site at Harpur Hill

Dr Alan Roberts will be giving a public lecture at the University of Derby, Buxton campus on Sunday 10th September at 3.00pm on the RAF Bomb Store at Harpur Hill.

The official name of the bomb store was RAF Maintenance Unit 28, which operated from December 1939 to November 1960. MU 28 was of high strategic importance throughout the war. The major storage area was a reinforced concrete structure of novel design, covered with quarry waste to conceal and protect it, supplied from a railway siding. A large area of surrounding land housed many additional, smaller scale, facilities.

Dr Alan Roberts talk will cover the design of the structure, construction difficulties and problems arising during its operation, together with the Unit's involvement in the early days of Mountain Rescue and its legacy in terms of housing, buildings later used to house the College of Further Education and even a Mushroom Farm!

Details of the event will be posted on the Heritage Open Day website - see link below

Heritage Open Days 7th September – Coalfields Guided Walk

Last years Heritage guided walk

Coalfields Guided Walk

Dr Alan Robert's BCA Director and Chair of the Places and Spaces Group will be leading a walk to trace the history and development of the Buxton Coalfields. The walk will be on Thursday 7th September and more details can be found on the link below.

Buxton Festival Literary Festival

Mark Cocker talks about his love of the natural world at the Buxton International Festival

Mike Monaghan in conversation with Mark Cocker

Nine o’clock on a Saturday morning can be a challenging time to attend a talk, but this was very well attended and is a testament to the popularity of the natural world and the power of Mark Cockers writing.

In the beautiful and calming setting of St Johns Church and taking the now familiar conversational format, Mike Monaghan Chair of Buxton Civic Association, who were sponsoring the event, discussed with Mark Cocker some of the topics that Mark had covered in his many books, from the damage that colonial Britain has done to indigenous populations, to the devastating effects of man on the environment and the oceans, and of course the joy and pleasure gained from the natural environment.

Mark has written about Birds on a continental scale right down to the local, and the micro habitats of Lightwood where his love of the natural world was first kindled.

His passion and a thirst for knowledge about the environment began with the observation of some brown birds at the end of the road where he was brought up, Lightwood road, in Buxton.

Curious about them, he overcame his fear of being labelled a bird watching nerd and borrowing his brother's binoculars rushed out to see what these unremarkable dull looking birds were all about.

Of course, they were far from unremarkable and dull, and close observation of them revealed that they were all slightly different, they were all individuals.
This fostered a love and respect for the commonplace, and his most successful book ‘Crow Country’ celebrates the everyday birds that we take for granted, the rook, revealing them to be a fascinating, intelligent, gregarious and much-misunderstood bird.

As are Corvids generally.

Shot in their thousands as a perceived threat to game estates, they are, we are discovering, among the most intelligent animals on the planet.

But of course, not everything we do is bad for the landscape. The RSPB reserves provide sanctuaries and protection for some of our most threatened species and gardeners everywhere play host to a range of species both common and rare.
The problem though is that the bad things we do greatly outweigh the good.

There is also a fundamental disconnect between the expectation of continuous economic growth and the finite nature of the planet and its resources. Our oceans and the animals that rely on it and live in and around it are choking under mountains of plastics, and essential habitats, woodlands, forests, savannah are being destroyed as we seek to feed an ever-increasing population. Animals that we once could take for granted, Lions, Elephants, Giraffes are everywhere under threat.

Perhaps it is not too late. But we need to take a long view. It has taken 150 years to seek equality between the sexes and still, as the latest BBC pay revelations reveal we are not there yet, and it will take a similar timescale to make the environment and its protection second nature.

But perhaps we do not have 150 years?

Mark is still writing and his next book due out next April is titled ‘Our Place’. It is a personal history of the environmental movement, focusing on six landscapes in the United Kingdom. Let’s hope that he can be persuaded to come back to the BIF 2018 to tell us about it.