Nicolas is the 6th generation of Broadhursts to farm here at Cote Bank. He spent 2 years in South Africa working as a mechanical engineer after finishing at Manchester University. While there he met Pam, a midwife and intensive care sister, and they took over the family farm after their marriage and have been here ever since – wouldn’t live anywhere else even if we were paid!
Where else would we find our own crystal clear spring water, the best views in Derbyshire, crisp clean air and friendly village life but still be close enough to Manchester to enjoy museums and orchestras like the Halle and the BBC Philharmonic, shops and so much more.
Our farm is a typical north Derbyshire hill-farm, and we specialise in breeding Derbyshire Gritstone sheep - a local rare breed, well adapted to life out on the Derbyshire moors.
Our farmhouse is built of stone from the leaking wing of the Old House, which was pulled down in 1884, plus extra stone from our own quarry, now disused. The beams and flagged floors were retained and even the original oak door of the Old House has been mended and used.
When we restored the cottages we used second hand roofing slates and kept all the original features possible and we also used local builders and craftspeople to restore the cottages sympathetically.
Restoring the Old House
When we restored the Old House in 1983 it was mainly to stop the water coming in through the perished lead flashing in the valley gutter between the two houses, which was ruining our sitting room wallpaper.
It took Pam 3 long weeks to sort through and clear over 100 years of accumulated junk in the upstairs 2 rooms We found no treasures, sadly – the farming here has always been hard and marginal. We did unearth a fireplace in the upstairs bedroom no-one had previously realised was there, so covered in boxes and junk was it!
The floor was very springy after all the weight of old saddles and the like had gone and, on going downstairs to investigate, we found that the main beam had rotted through at one end and was hanging in space. The lead flashing must never have been correctly put in place and 100 years of water had done the damage.
However, our inventive builder cut away the rotten wood, as the beam is a beauty, possibly from a ship originally. He then used a redundant beam from our barn at Stubbins to prop up the sound remainder and it is still serving its purpose today. In the gap left by the missing 2 foot of beam, he put the stairs to link the 2 floors.
We had decided that the damp fourth room behind the sitting room was only useful as a store room for our house, so we walled up the doorway to form the bookcases in the Old House sitting room.
The original beams and mullions were cleaned and left, although the joists in the sitting room ceiling had to be replaced, as the damp had rotted their ends over on the window wall.
Sadly an apprentice electrician ruined the original sound joists running into the fireplace wall by drilling holes for the electrical cables in the lower third of the joists, so that half of the ceiling had to be covered over with plaster board. With the benefit of hindsight and experience we should have made him plug the holes with wood plugs and start again but time and finances were against us.
We had some furniture from the period of the original house which we have used in the sitting room, along with some of the old books we found while clearing the junk.
Cote Bank and Cherry Tree cottages
Cherry Tree Cottage dates from around 1680 and together with Cote Bank Cottage was a separate farm until the early 1700s when Cote Bank Farm and it were amalgamated.
Cherry Tree Cottage was originally the haybarn (now the dining room with bedroom and bathroom above) and stable (now the sitting room), and went with Cote Bank Cottage.
What is now the kitchen and shower room was a grain place and at times we kept the rams in there over winter, once the brewers grains had all been used as a high protein winter feed.
Pam’s early memories, as a young and fit girlfriend and then wife, was of helping to get the hay in off the surrounding fields and riding perilously on the top of stacks of bales, 7 or 8 bales high, on wagons back to the barn. One first had to rope them on – again there was a special way of tying them on - with Pam heaving on the slack loop over the bales while Nic shouted “Hup” and pulled hard to take up the slack. Then it was a rolling ride back to the barns when one could relax briefly before unloading them.
Nic and any helpers would throw the bales of hay off onto another trailer parked in the dining room area and from there the bales would be thrown up to Pam on the steadily growing, carefully stacked bales on the loft floor- what is now the large bedroom and bathroom. There was an art to packing them – a bit like building a wall- to keep them firmly bound. When we reached the roof and every nook and cranny was packed with bales, it was a real struggle to climb over the roof trusses and get down to the trailer and then start on the other side.
It was hot, dusty and airless up amongst the rafters and very prickly.
Pam always wore long sleeved shirts, thick trousers, gloves and stout shoes after her first disastrous effort at bale collecting in the fields when she went out in a short glamorous sleeveless mini-dress, because it was a hot day, and was torn to bits – anyone who thinks hay is soft should try having it thrown against your legs in the form of a thick bale! In the hot sun dressed for maximum cover also adds to the discomfort.
We were thrilled when silage making took over from hay making – although we now buy in some small hay bales as they are easy to move around outlying fields in snow. However it is hard to find anyone who still has a baler capable of making small bale hay. We also make big bale hay which is easy to get out into the fields in winter.
The stable area, now the sitting room, was used for calves in winter and made a snug, dark place for them – no patio doorway at that time.
Cherry Tree Cottage
In 1985, realising that we were turning away visitors from the newly opened Cote Bank Cottage, we converted the barn and stable to Cherry Tree cottage and opened it in 1986. We had luckily applied for and got permission to convert it in 1982 when we had started work on the restoration of Cote Bank Cottage.
The old cow shippon next door was used as the laundry and log store and you can still see the old stone boskins where we tied our cows to keep them warm inside through the cold winters.
We have retained the adjacent calf shippon as a store place.