COMBINING quaint with hustle and bustle is not something you would expect to find in a rural village.
Positioned on the busy A6 route, Rowsley, however, manages to achieve such a unique quality.
The village is not only nestled in the shadows of the Chatsworth tourist trap, but is home to the popular Peak Village Shopping Outlet, providing retail therapy for thousands of visitors each year.
There is also Caudwell’s Mill, which was built in 1874 and was a working flour mill for 104 years before being transformed into a visitors’ centre for industrial interest.
Yet despite all of this, the traditions associated with quiet village life are somehow retained in Rowsley.
“It really hasn’t changed that much over the years, and it’s still very quiet. Some days you do not see anybody at all,” says resident Rena Marshall as she heads up the hill towards St Katherine’s Church.
It’s not the sort of comment you’d expect with a retail park just a stone’s throw away.
But that’s not to say there is little else going for it. With a population of more than 500, Rowsley still proudly boasts local pubs and restaurants, successful businesses, a village hall, a thriving primary school and a Post Office – which is becoming a rarity in rural settings these days.
Chairman of Rowsley Parish Council for the past three years is Kath Potter.
She said: “It’s a friendly place, it not as lively as it was but it still has a lot going for it.
“There can be a community spirit when there needs to be. We’re also very lucky that the River Wye and the River Derwent converge at Rowsley, it’s an idyllic setting.”
But like many small villages, the local hall is the hub for many of its activities.
Used by the school and pre-school during the day, sports clubs dominate the evening sessions, including badminton, table tennis and mat bowls.
Incredibly, badminton has been a staple fixture at the venue since it was first built in 1929.
Jack Bingham has been involved with the club since 1995. The 74-year-old runs the all-female club who meet every Monday night.
He said: “I have been doing it for about 16 years, and we have been here for about seven years.
“We only have one court and there are about 11-12 players who come along every week.
“It’s not competitive so everyone enjoys it more I think. We run it for pure enjoyment and we have a good set of people involved.”
One unique facility at Rowsley is the Level Centre on Old Station Close, which has been open since 2008.
Run by First Movement Ltd, it provides an opportunity for learning disabled people to get involved with creative art and media projects, and attracts people from across Derbyshire.
Director Peter Shelton explained: “There’s nothing quite like this in Derbyshire, it’s primarily for people who with disabilities but it’s also important for other artists in the area.
“It’s very exciting, people take ideas and some of the work created here is taken to exhibitions, it’s such high-quality.
“Over a year, we get about 400 different people, which is a lot. The largest catchment area is from the Matlock and Derbyshire Dales area but we do get people travelling from wider areas.”
Nowhere is Rowsley’s community spirit more alive than at St Katherine’s Church, where a fundraising campaign for much-needed repairs to the church roof is slowly edging towards a conclusion.
The building is relatively new in church terms, having only been built in 1855, and the roof problem has cast a shadow over its future.
But hard work has seen the parishioners slowly claw their way towards the £120,000 target. More than £53,000 will come through grants from English Heritage and Derbyshire Church’s Trust, and £30,000 will be supplied by church reserves.
The locals have helped rake in more than £9,000, and are now just £12,000 short.
Church warden Ted Mellor, said: “The fundraising effort in the village has been extremely good and people have been both generous in donations and innovative in fundraising.
“If the roof is not repaired it will deteriorate, so we’re continuing with it. We’re hoping we can get it done in early 2012. There are grants we are still appealing for, but we are getting there.
“We now feel that we are in touching distance.
“We only have a congregation of about 20/25 people, but there a lot of people do use the church in this village.”
It’s obvious that Rowsley has a lot going for it.
Resident Rena Marshall summed up her life her in the village: “I love every minute of living here, I wouldn’t swap it for all the tea in China.
“It’s the country life that I love, there’s not another place like it.”