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our story

Forge Dam Cafe is an independent, family-run business. Nick Dunn and his team are proud to be stewards of this institution of Sheffield life, a fixture in the park for 100 years. 

Nick's relationship with the cafe goes far beyond the average cafe owner's links with his business, in that Forge Dam Cafe has been a family affair for a long time. Charles and Jean Chapman (Nick's grandparents) ran the cafe for 27 years, living in the adjacent cottage. Baby Nick was nearly born on-site, with his mother going into labour while at the cottage! 

In 1995 the cafe was taken on by Alan and May Young and when they departed in 2012, Nick took the opportunity to return to where he used to help out during his school holidays, in a significant change of career.

I was Managing Director of an insurance business, but when this chance came up I jumped at it. We have gone full circle and got it back in the family.
 Baby Nick, outside the cottage, in 1972

Baby Nick, outside the cottage, in 1972

Since taking over in 2012, Nick has taken the cafe from strength to strength, building on a loyal customer base and improving their quality and range of offerings, without losing sight of the original feel of the cafe, a key part of the beautiful park in which it sits. We are proud to support the work of Friends of Porter Valley as they fundraise for restoration to the dam itself. 

The cafe used to be Walkley Methodist Hall before it was dismantled and brought down to the valley bottom at Forge Dam on a horse and cart in the 1930s. Customers have included Sheffield natives Richard Hawley and Jarvis Cocker, who wrote the Pulp song Wickerman on a laptop in the cafe.

"And it finally comes above ground again at Forge Dam: the place where we first met. I went there again for old time’s sake. Hoping to find the child’s toy horse ride that played such a ridiculously tragic tune. It was still there – but none of the kids seemed interested in riding on it. And the cafe was still there too."
Wickerman, Jarvis Cocker, Paul Giovanni, Mark Webber, Steve Mackey, Candida Doyle, Nick Banks