A Charmed life in Dore and Totley, South Yorkshire
Dore and Totley are still among the most desirable villages to live in South Yorkshire. Bill Hearld finds out why
It’s all about the postcode – and people are willing to pay handsomely for an S17 letterbox. That’s the area which includes Totley and Dore, very well-heeled twin villages on the extreme south-west of Sheffield that are about as far on the edge of Yorkshire as you can get without falling off. Though they are umbilically linked by the busy A621, they are not identical twins.
Legend has it that King Eggbert of Wessex led his army to Dore in the 9th century, had fisticuffs with King Eanred of Northumbria and so became the first overlord of all England. A plaque on Dore’s village green testifies to the fact. So it is fitting that today, its residents are happy to pay a king’s ransom for the privilege of living there.
The exclusive village of Dore has long been regarded the most affluent area of Sheffield but some, like local estate agent and property valuer James Ross, says it is losing its crown to places like Eccclesall and Ranmoor. Nevertheless, prices of �1m per property are not unusual and one six-bedroom house recently went on the market for �1.65 million.
Huge Victorian mansions line the Dore Road, while on the edges of the village even more exclusive properties are hidden behind walls and trees or they have a drive that is so long, they cannot be seen in the distance.
It has always been a desirable area, adds James, partly because of its location – just 30 minutes into Sheffield city centre by bus and five minutes from Blackamoor, lovely countryside on the edge of the Peak District.
It is, he says, a favourite choice of residence for dentists, doctors, lawyers and footballers. Chris Waddle, Bryan Robson and the late Emlyn Hughes have numbered among residents.
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‘One farm property with a good acreage was recently expected to make �1million,’ says James. ‘It’s a lovely place but was rather run down, yet it made �2million when it was sold at auction.
‘Bungalows attract high prices, too, because when people get older and want to downsize, they want to keep living in Dore. Totley commands some decent prices but not as much as Dore.’
The village’s compact centre is well served with shops, eateries and pubs and Sheffield’s so-called Golden Mile, Ecclesall Road, where you can buy almost anything day and night, is only minutes away by car.
Along the road, neighbouring Totley is more sprawling and busy. Some locals say it is the poor relation but again, property prices are comparatively high and the residents are so proud of their village, they wrote a song about it.
‘Totley’s our home, Totley’s our village, where people are friendly, a place we adore; Totley’s our home, Totley’s our village, the edge of the city, close to the moor,’ goes the chorus of the Totley song, composed and written by a group of villagers, including residents of the Leonard Cheshire Home, in July 2009, as part of Totley Music Festival.
There’s a strong community spirit in Totley, too, because a group of volunteers have been working hard to spruce up Green Oak Park, a pleasant little oasis with playing fields, bowling green and lots of greenery. The Friends of Green Oak Park have planted flowers and an orchard and have cleaned out and maintain a forgotten stream which attracts birds and other wildlife.
And if you really want to know how pleasant it is in Totley and Dore, ask the deputy prime minister. The villages, once the only area of Sheffield to vote in Conservative councillors, are in Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency. He told Yorkshire Life: ‘I am very fortunate to have the privilege of representing Sheffield Hallam, which is so diverse and offers something for everyone: Sheffield can provide all you need from city life; while Hallam, nestled between the vibrant city and the picturesque Peak District, forms the perfect bridge between town and countryside.
“The two villages of Dore and Totley are fantastic places to live and work. But they are also full of people with a sense of shared responsibility; people who care for the environment around them and who are ready to get involved in issues of the day.
My postbag proves to me that in Hallam we have lots of people who care not just about the community they live in, but also about their fellow citizens.’
Avril Critchley moved to Totley in 1960 after she was married – and stayed. She loves Totley because: ‘We are on the edge of the national park and a five-minute walk from my home takes me into beautiful countryside and yet we are only a short bus ride from the city – though the bus service could be better.’
Avril is a naturalist and finds plenty to occupy her in the countryside and is one of the eager volunteers working on Green Oak Park. But she also keeps busy trying to improve the village in her role as chairman of Totley Residents’ Association.
‘Like most places, it has its problems but it is a nice place to live. The people are friendly and we have a good variety of shops, plenty of pubs and other businesses. We have also managed to keep our Post Office and our library.
‘There is a friendly rivalry with Dore and although some think we are the poor relation, we like where we live. Dore does have a community centre, which we don’t, but we are working on that.’
How to get there: The villages are on the A621 Sheffield-Baslow road and share Dore and Totley railway station on the Sheffield-Manchester Hope Valley line. There are regular buses in and out of Sheffield.
Where to park: There is plenty of on-street parking in both villages.
What to do: The villages are close to the Peak District National Park and the beautiful countryside is a magnet for hikers, dog-walkers and mountain bikers. Both villages have a variety of eateries and pubs.