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Matlock, Derbyshire
Matlock became famous for hydropathy cures in the mid-nineteenth century
Matlock & Matlock Bath Index | About Matlock Bath, (with Matlock Dale and Scarthin Nick)
Find a Name | Matlock Miscellany | Biographies | Images
Bank Road & the Steep-Gradient Tramway | Flooding | The War Memorials | Water Cures
Newspaper Cuttings | Historical Records

Matlock's population expanded enormously after the railway line opened and hydropathy took off a few years later.
Each part of the modern town has its own history and unique characteristics.

There is a description of Matlock Dale in the Matlock Bath section of this site.

About the Parish - over 120 years ago : an extract from Kelly's 1891 Directory[1891]

"Matlock is an extensive parish in the Western division of the county [Derbyshire], hundred and county court district of Wirksworth, petty sessional division of Wirksworth, Bakewell union, rural deanery of Bakewell, archdeaconry of Derby and diocese of Southwell.

Matlock Old Town is half a mile south east of Matlock Bridge station on the Midland railway, 148½ miles from London, 16½ miles north-by west from Derby, 10 south-west-by-south from Chesterfield, 10 south-east from Bakewell, 10 from Belper, 4 north-by north-east from Wirksworth, 66 from Rugby, 46 from Leicester, 23½ from Loughborough, 32 from Nottingham, 65¼ from Lincoln, 164 from Bath, 59 from Birmingham, 107 from Cheltenham, 69½ from Leeds, 294¾ from Edinburgh, 56 from Melton, 40¾ from Sheffield, 49¾ from Doncaster and 83¾ from York.

The parish is divided into several districts or localities, the principal of which are Matlock Bath, Matlock Bank, Matlock Bridge and Matlock Town and Green. The trustees of the late William Pole Thornhill esq. and others are trustees for the copyholders, who are lords of the manor. The landowners are Frederic Charles Arkwright esq. J.P. of Willersley, Samuel Smith esq. the Rev. Charles Wolley-Dod M.A. of Edgehall, Malpas, and numerous freeholders. The land is chiefly pasture; soil and subsoil limestone and gritstone.

The area in acres is 4,491 acres of land and 48 of water; rateable value £31, 977; the population in 1861, including Matlock Bath, Matlock Bank, Matlock Bridge, Riber, Scarthin Nick and Starkholmes, was 4,252, in 1871 was 5,220 and in 1881 was 6,093".

Also see:
Miscellany - for information on: The Manor of Matlock | Nineteenth century expansion, population and councils | Matlock in the Domesday Book

Matlock Bank & Moor

Matlock Bank, photographed from Riber
Matlock Bank, from Riber

Matlock Bank spreads across the steep hillside, rising to quite an altitude!  Anyone walking up the hill from the bottom for the first time will find it quite a climb. At the centre is Smedley Street, a long street crossing the hillside from east to west. Smedley Street had been called called Old Hackney Lane and Broome Head Lane (see Smedley map) but was later named after John Smedley, the mill owner, hydro pioneer and later castle builder. His single mindedness and idealism put Matlock Bank on the map as little existed on the Bank before the railway line opened and Smedley began building. What he started in the town, others emulated.

So the hydro building, and the subsequent popularity of the various treatments, was responsible for the massive development of this part of the town. J. B. Firth, writing in 1908, said: "Fifty or sixty years ago Matlock Bank was a bare expanse with few houses"[1]. To modern residents and visitors this may be hard to believe. However, Kelly's Directory of 1848 described Matlock Bank as "a hamlet in this parish"[1848] [Matlock] and Francis White, in his Sheffield Directory of 1862, said the Bank contained "many scattered houses"[2].

Smedley's Hydro, now the County Hall, became very famous and a was hugely successful enterprise; it was the largest hydropathic establishment of the many in Matlock. At one stage in the town's history there were some twenty hydros where people could stay and be (hopefully) cured from their various ailments. This was the place to go for your health cure in Victorian England and hydropathy brought business and prosperity, though not to all.

In their heyday almost all of the large Hydropathic Establishments of Matlock were to be found on the Bank. Some sixteen lodging houses and apartments complemented the hydros, providing cheaper accommodation for visitors. These including the Duke of Wellington Public House and the Gate Inn and Livery Stables. There were and still are shops to support the Bank's community on the Smedley Street, many close to Smedley's Hydro, though there are fewer of them these days than there were when hydropathy treatments were in fashion.

Matlock is part of the Derwent valley and the sloping ground of the Bank faces south south west towards Masson on the opposite side of the river.

Addresses included in Matlock Bank are Lime Tree Hill (named after a very long lived tree), The Dimple, Jackson Road, Rutland Street and Wellington Street. Matlock Moor goes on from Matlock Bank, with the hillside rising even higher to the top of the hill towards Chesterfield. Bank Road, formerly known as Dob(b) Lane, goes straight down from Smedley Street to Crown Square and Matlock Bridge, the centre of the modern Matlock.

The oldest house on the Bank is the stone built Wellfield Cottage, which is Grade 2 listed. The lintel over the square headed doorway gives the date of 1667 as well as some initials. Hasker, and its farm (Asker today), can be found in 16th century documents and wills. So, too, can both the Hyrstfeld and Hurst Farm as well as the Woulds (see, for example,The Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock - Places Within Matlock).

The two photographs at the bottom of this section show the view from Crown Square looking up Bank Road and shows how steep the road is. Little wonder that in the nineteenth century Job Smith thought a tramway was a good idea as a means for people to get up and down from Smedley Street to Crown Square and Matlock Bridge. Matlock was the home of the steepest tramway in the world, which ran for over thirty four years.The large stone building on the left of the photo used to be the main part of the Crown Hotel, but the hotel has moved slightly in recent years.


"MATLOCK BANK - situated on the sloping side of a lofty eminence about half-a-mile to the east [of Matlock Bridge], is the creation of the second half of the present century. Fifty years ago a cottage or two were the only habitations on the hillside where now stand many palatial buildings and handsome villas. Here HYDROPATHY, as now practised, had its earliest home. Its initial stage was on a very limited scale; but from this mean and insignificant beginning has arisen perhaps the largest and most magnificent hydropathic establishment in the world".

"History, Topography and Directory of Derbyshire" (1895) by T. Bulmer and Co, p.417, Matlock
(Contributed by Sonia Addis-Smith)

List of Hydropathic Establishments in 1891
"There Was Red Tape at Smedley's Hydro Then"

Bank Road & the Steep-Gradient Tramway
Matlock: Looking towards Hackney
Claremont, and Mr. Rowland
The Duke of Wellington and the Hascarlane Toll Bar, 1892
Matlock: General View, 1911-14
Matlock Bank and the Hall Leys

Also on this website see:
All Saints' Church
All Saints' School & Ernest Bailey Grammar School
See the Historical Records for trade directories and census returns
See which resident of the Bank contributed the most to the 1662 collection for poor relief.
Rockside Hydro - "Watered-Down Future for a glorious icon of the age of the hydro"

Darley is the parish adjacent to Matlock Bank : Hackney and Hackney Lane are in Darley.
Kelly's 1891 Directory of Darley

Whilst the principal employers in Matlock Bank and Matlock Moor were the hydropathic establishments, the lodging houses and community of small shopkeepers, there were a few others who advertised in Kelly's 1908 Directory[1908]. George Drabble, the timber merchant, lived at The Limes; H. Hand & Son, jobmasters, were at the Gate livery stables; John William Wildgoose, the builder and contractor, was on Rutland street; the premises of William Hy. Potter, the hosiery manufacturer, were on the Dimple and Hurd, Sons & Co., nurserymen, were at the Portland Grange nurseries.

The Regiment known as the Sherwood Foresters (Derbys Reg) were based in Matlock Bank in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Matlock had a Town Crier in 1891; Robert J. Staniford, who lived on Smedley Street, was listed as a Public Official [1891] and he was still in the post eight years later.

Bank Road and Crown Square, Matlock, 1999
Bank Road, formerly Dob Lane, from Crown Square, 1999.
The lower part of Bank Road was included under Matlock Bridge in
old Trades Directories.
  Bank Road and Crown Square, Matlock, 2013
The same view in 2013.
The railings and ugly bollards have gone, though not the cars.

Matlock Bridge

Matlock Town Hall
Matlock Town Hall was originally Bridge House. The building has been considerably altered.

Matlock Bridge developed from a small hamlet into the town's business area, centred around the mediaeval stone bridge that spans the River Derwent. Snitterton Road, Bakewell Road, Dale Road, Crown Square and the bottom part of Bank Road are traditionally part of Matlock Bridge, though these days it is not easy to see where Matlock Bridge ended and Matlock Bank began. This, historically, was one of the few crossing points along the length of the river. The County Bridge, which was widened in 1904, dates from the fifteenth century and has four arches. It has been one of the many Derbyshire scenes favoured by artists over the centuries and there is a painting, entitled "The Bridge at Matlock", by the renowned English artist Joseph M. W. Turner (1775-1851).

The railway station is in this part of Matlock and was originally known as Matlock Bridge station but in 1905 the Midland Railway Company changed its name to Matlock Station. It is now at the end of the line from Derby. In its heyday the line was part of the Midland Railway and trains stopped at the station en route for London and Manchester, although during the nineteenth century the London train stopped at Matlock Bath, not Matlock Bridge.

It all began in 1849 when the Midland Railway Co. opened a branch line that went from Ambergate to Rowsley, with stations at Matlock Bridge and Matlock Bath. This was later extended further and went as far as Manchester. In 1891 the station manager was John Ashton, but by 1908 he'd been replaced by Joseph Henry Clarke.

It was as a direct result of the railway line and the station that Matlock expanded into the town we know today. There was more space for development here than there was in Matlock Bath and the small hamlets and clutch of houses became part of the modern town.

A Market Hall, with Assembly Rooms above it, was opened on Dale Road in 1868. By 1908 the market was held in the lower portion of the building every Friday and Saturday[1908]. Matlock still has its market, but nowadays it isn't on Dale Road. Also to be found on Dale Road at the end of the nineteenth century was Robert Alfred Harker. He was a chemist and druggist and advertised "Harker's Compound Balsamic Cough Elixir, Quinine and Iron Tonic, Teething and Cooling Powders, three well-tried medicines which should be kept in every house"[1908].

Just over a hundred and ten years ago there were a variety of industries that are no longer in the town[1908]. Employers in Matlock Bridge included Thomas Beck, the stone merchant, Thomas Boden, coal & coke merchant and Walter Drabble & Co. Ltd., (lead mine owners) who were based at Station yard; Constable, Hart & Ltd. were operating Cawdor Quarries (Norman Hart was the manager) and Job Greatorex & Son were tar paving contractors and quarry owners were based on Dale Road; Hall & Co.were also on Dale Road; the Matlock & District Gas Co., (Robert Hall F.S.A.A.was the secretary and Thomas Brown the manager) had works on Darley Road and the Singer Sewing Machine Co. Ltd. (whose agent was Charles Herbert Buckley), were on both Smedley Street & trading in the Market Hall.

Hotels in Matlock Bridge have also changed considerably over the years but the old buildings of the Crown, the Old English (more recently known as the Cromwell Hotel) and the Boat House remain. The Crown and the Boat House were well established before hydros were even thought of[3].

Shops have changed use as owners have come and gone. Half a century ago there was The Manchester Store on Dale Road which sold linens; it is now a restaurant. Marsdens was a drapers/clothiers and school outfitters where the little boys went with their mother to be fitted with a best suit in the gentleman's section. Gone, too, from Dale Road is the Picture Palace Cinema and Hunter's. Burgon's, Orme's and the Derwent Valley Co-Operative Society have disappeared from Crown Square.

Dale Road was developed in the nineteenth century; the Firs Parade shops were built by the local firm of Wildgoose in the twentieth. Woolworth's caused quite a stir when they opened their store on the corner in the 1950s.

former cinema
The former Picture Palace Cinema on Dale Road was the first
cinema to open in Matlock. It opened in 1913 and could seat 500.
The cinema was closed and rebuilt during the summer of 1928.

Crown Square and Matlock Bridge from Bank Road
Towards Matlock Bridge © Ann Andrews.
This was taken from Bank Road looking down towards Crown Square and the bridge, which is approximately in the centre of the picture. The white building on the far side is on Dale Road and the railway line, which actually goes into a tunnel, is just below the fields, with the station off to the right.

Engraving of Matlock Bridge from an original by Turner, 1795
Matlock: The Old Bridge
Matlock: The Bridge (1)
Matlock: The Derwent, about 1910, & the Sewerage Scheme
Matlock Bridge, late 1880's
One of two early photographs, probably taken only a few months apart, of the Bridge and the Bank
Matlock: Crown Square, 1901
An extremely rare image

Dale Road, early Edwardian cards
(first of 2)

Dale Road & The Old English Hotel
Matlock's Market Hall, Dale Road
Early 20th century photos

Lead Mining
Stone Quarrying
Historical Records - directory entries and census returns
Matlock Lido, "Liquidating a Former Tourist Asset"

Boat House Hotel & River, about 1908
with list of licensees 1827-1950s
Boat House Hotel & Quarry
Cottages, Matlock Dale, 1899
Designed by the architect E. Guy Dawber

During the nineteenth century there were Temperance Leagues and Societies and a Temperance Movementflourished throughout the United Kingdom. The Oxford English Dictionary gives an early example of the Temperance Movement as early as 1836. Matlock was one of many towns to have a Temperance Hotel; it meant that no alcohol was served on the premises.
Browns Temperance Hotel, advertisement from Kellys 1891 Directory

In 1891 the proprietress of Brown's Temperance Hotel on Dale Road was Miss Harriett Marriott[1891]. The establishment she ran was not licensed as no alcohol would have been available for guests to drink at a Temperance Hotel. This was the only Hydropathic Establishment advertising in this part of Matlock in that year. A few years later John Taylor was its proprietor and had become the Trevelyan.
See transcripts of more Matlock Bridge entries in Kelly's 1891 Directory | Kelly's 1895 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory
There is more about this hotel on Matlock Bridge, Pic Tor Walk, 1909 and a picture of the upper storeys of the front on Pic Tor, the Cycle Track and Matlock Green
Also read the poem The "Matlock Waters". A Recitation by a Member of the Matlock Band of Hope.

advert on wall
Painted sign for Frisby's shoe shop
(left), on the side of the shop
building. The repairers at the end of
Dale Road outlasted the shoe shop.
  former post office
This building, at the junction of Holt Lane and Snitterton Road, used to house the Post Office.
See: Lindsey and Mary Hodgkinson of Holt Lane.
The shop on the ground floor became a florists, originally run by John Wildgoose.

used to be Boots
For many years this building was Boots, the chemist.
Up until the mid 1950s there was a lending library in the back of the shop.
It is still a furniture shop, but has a different name (2018).

The Hall Leys Park

park and fountain
Summer 2013, looking down the length of the park
past the fountain towards the bandstand, with Riber Castle on the hillside above.

Mr Henry Knowles offered, in February 1898, to transfer to the public the fields known as the Hall Leys and in June of that year the Council gave £500 towards the project[4] . This became a public park, with gardens, promenade, Band Stand and eventually tennis courts, boating lake, bowling, and a children's play area - including a paddling pool and miniature railway along the riverbank.

Until 1926 there were three shops between the Park and Crown Square but these were demolished. The tram shelter was moved from the middle of Crown Square to its present position following the Council's decision to stop running the tram.
See Bank Road & the Steep-Gradient Tramway

The Bandstand is in the centre of the park. Matlock's Brass Band have performed here on countless occasions.
Matlock's Brass Band website
Some onsite information about the band

The small maker's plate on the Bandstand states that it was made by Lion Foundry, Kirkintilloch. Colin Goodwyn has said that If you go to Kirkintilloch and look in their park, as he has did one evening some years ago, you may be surprised to see an identical Band Stand to the one on the Hall Leys, though in a somewhat better condition. This suggests that, if that town used that particular design themselves, then it must have been the best one that the foundry could supply and that the design Matlock purchased was therefore the "top model".

At the end of the path is the footbridge across the river to Dale Road, which has two plaques on it showing the levels flood water reached in the 1960's. The flood water would have covered the floor of the Bandstand.
There is more information about the floods.

Matlock's Band Stand is on the Hall Leys © Ann Andrews

Hall Leys, about 1912
The Park, 1952. The Hall Leys in 1952, with contemporary description
Hawe Lees, Matlock, showing Bandstand and New Pavilion. Early 20th century crowd listening to a Scottish band
The Bandstand, Hall Leys Pleasure Grounds, 1950s when screens were erected on Matlock's Bandstand.

Matlock Town (Old Matlock) & Matlock Green

Matlock Town, together with Matlock Greeen, are the older parts of the parish and the oldest buildings are in Matlock Town. It is a quieter part of the Matlocks. Nikolaus Pevsner (1953) observed that "No-one can feel the nearness of modern Matlock here".

On the green beside the church is a lovely stone house that dates from 1681 which is now a Grade II* listed building; Wheatsheaf House was originally Wheatsheaf Farm but has been both a pub and a pottery in the past.

The Old Rectory is on Church Street and dates from the late 18th century. On the opposite side of the road is the Duke William Inn, a Georgian building built in 1734 (or 1754?). The old school next to it, greeted with such pride when it was rebuilt in 1860, has now been converted into residential accommodation (see Schools in earlier times). The former King's Head is even older that the Duke William (late 17th century); it is a little further down the hill but is no longer a pub.

The ancient church of St Giles is here too, next to the Wheatsheaf, on the hill going up the from Matlock Green towards Starkholmes. It is also a Grade II* listed building. The church, often described as being on a high rock, is on a limestone plateau overlooking Matlock Dale. Amongst all the local people buried in the churchyard are a number of tombstones commemorating those who did not survive their treatment in the various Hydros (this can also be said of the gravestones at Holy Trinity Matlock Bath). The list of Rectors, linked on the right, spans many centuries; the earliest named was alive in 1300. The Matlock War Memorial is also here, and is positioned with a commanding view of the modern town (see War Memorials).

Old maps show that the settlements of both the Town and the Green were for many years separate communities from the rest of Matlock.


Churches and Chapels
List of Rectors
About Matlock War Memorial
1841 Census, Parish of Matlock: Distribution of Occupations. Look under EDs 17 and 18 for the Town and the Green.

Mr. Arkwright of Willersley was listed amongst the residents of Matlock Town as Willersley is within the parish, although it received its mail through Cromford.

A Trades Directory of 1908 recorded that 'many of the old [lead] mines have been reopened and are being worked mainly for the spar'.[1908]
Lead mining
Stone quarrying

Also on this website see:
The Local Schools
Historical Records: directory entries and census returns

Matlock Old Church, 1870 & before
St. Giles' Church, about 1903
The first of several twentieth century images about the church.
Matlock: St. Giles' Church and Green, 1914. The old tree was a stump and it took ten more years to replace it.
Old Matlock

Matlock Green is in the valley below Matlock Town, with Lime Tree Hill and Matlock Bank rising up on the other side. This is where the old corn mills and bleach works of Lumsdale joined the town, as the road from central Matlock (Causeway Lane) passes through towards Matlock Cliff and then to Tansley via Alfreton Road. The Bentley Brook, so important for the old mills, runs through the settlement. Bryan tells us that a Corn Mill was here in the reign of Henry II[4] , probably on or near the site of Huntbridge Mill.

The 1848/9 Tithe Award[5] shows considerable ownership of land in Matlock Green by Thomas Bown of Huntbridge House "(the executors of" by this time), and his sons in law Sir Joseph Paxton and Thomas Wildgoose through Bown's daughters Sarah and Ruth. Thomas's brother John Bown, who died in 1832, had been the miller at Huntbridge Mill.
See Pedigree of Bown[e].

Other landowners in and around Matlock Green at that time were George Nuttall, the land surveyor, and the web mistress's relative Robert Clay, the Bonsall miller[5].
See Nuttall Pedigree.

In 1857 fairs were held in Matlock on February 25th, April 2nd, May 9th, July 6th and October 4th and 24th[6]. At that time, the weekly market had been "obsolete" for about forty years although it was "the intention of the inhabitants to re-establish it". A cattle market was held every alternate Thursday at Matlock Green though by 1932 the cattle market was only held occasionally[1932]. During the second world war this had changed slightly: "the Matlock and District Agricultural Society organise several cattle and produce shows each year[1941]". Horses had been sold at the Matlock market, at the annual May fair on 9th May, which was held in a large field by the roadside (now a petrol filling station). The sale of cattle moved to Bakewell market.

Matlock Green and Matlock Bridge are the lowest lying areas of the Matlocks.
Matlock Green is mentioned in Flooding in the Matlocks

From the Vernon Lamb Archive

St. Andrew's
Home - Cliffe
House, 1914
VLA 5230

The Horseshoe
VLA 5016

Stoney Way 1911

Place Gardens

  Matlock Green, from Riber Hillside
The Green from Riber.

Place 1862

Gardens 1907

Matlock Green
& Riber 1911

Masson from
Dean Hill,
1921 - 1930

Harrison's Almshouses


"Most of us know its name, if only for the Castle which crowns this great hill, a landmark 850 feet above the sea ; but it is worth knowing for itself, for the charm of its old stone houses and its magnificent prospect, from Matlock at its feet to far-flung hills and vales[7]".

Riber Castle, 2008
Riber Castle, 2008

The ruin of Riber Castle, a Grade II listed building built by John Smedley in 1862, has dominated the town of Matlock; it is perched on the edge of the hill above Starkholmes, very high up. The building should not be a ruin for much longer, though, as it is currently being restored and converted into flats. It has a new roof and the glass has been replaced in the windows but the work is not yet completed (2020).

John Smedley was the owner of the largest hydropathic establishment in Matlock and built the Castle as a home for himself and his wife. It was built on a grand scale and the Castle's salon was vast. Built very quickly, the castle was constructed of massive blocks of local gritstone taken from a quarry near the castle and Smedley was the sole architect. Smedley employed skilled craftsmen. Plasterers, for example, came from Italy to work on the Castle. He also bought good quality materials. For example, some of the ceramic tiles used were made by Maw & Co.. There was electricity and gas, plus a deep well for water.

Mrs. Caroline Smedley continued to live at Riber Castle after her husband died, though the building has since been used for a variety of things, including a boys' school owned by a Reverend John William Chippett, previously of Harrogate. It became a food store during WW2 and this proved disastrous for the building. It was later used as a zoo.

Riber itself is a small hamlet near the castle; it is 798 feet above sea level and this rises to 928 feet.

Riber was the property and residence of the Wolley family for several centuries and there is an altar tomb dated 1578 in St. Giles' church that is dedicated to Anthony Wolley of Ryber, Agnes (his wife) and six children. The Wolley family were long livers, as the tombstone of Adam Wolley (1558 -1657) and his wife Grace (1559 - 1669) that is also in St. Giles' shows. This couple were married for 76 years and lived at Allen-hill in Matlock. The Wolley's were important people in Matlock's history and their family papers, and other documents collected by Adam Wolley are listed among The Wolley Manuscripts.
Wolley MIs in Matlock's Parish Church
Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock
Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire
Pedigree of Wolley of Riber
Wolley of Darley Abbey, descendants of the Wolleys of Allen Hill.

It was another Anthony Wolley, a bachelor, whose sisters sold the stone built family home (now Riber Hall) to Thomas Statham after his death in 1669. Then, in 1724 the co-heiresses of the Chappell family, who then owned it, divided it into two moieties (note: moiety means half). In Lysons' time Joseph Greatorex lived in the left half as you face the building and members of the Wall family in the right[8]. The half Mr. Greatorex lived in was later owned by George Allen and then the Sellors family. It more recently was a first class hotel and restaurant although this has now closed.

Another of Riber's landowners was Fairfax Moresby, who was living at Riber in the late eighteenth century.
Eighteenth Century Lists: Matlock Land Tax, 1780 records him as an owner and occupier, although it does not specify where his land was.

Riber Manor House, which used to be Riber Old Hall, has a date stone of 1633 with the letters G.W. M.W. It is easy to confuse this as meaning Wolley but the W was for Walker and their home was later lived in by the Jaques and Cotterill families. In the late 19th century the Marts were at Riber Old Hall and half of Riber Hall was shown as still being inhabited by the Walls[9].

Hearthstone (Harston) was the "property of a yeoman named Statham" in the late 1800s[4].

John and Caroline Smedley, from a
photograph by the London Stereoscopic Company.
The picture was published in Famous Derbyshire
Health Resorts. The Matlocks, about 1892

Riber Castle, Four Mid-Nineteenth Century Engravings. One from Mrs. Smedley's book and three from John Smedley's book.
Matlock: Riber Castle
Mr. Chippett's School at Riber Castle
Riber Hill and Riber Castle, a view of the farms and dry stone walls below the castle
Matlock Bath: Fountain Baths, Swimmers From Riber School
Boys from Mr. Chippett's School attended swimming lessons there
Riber Castle, Matlock : A Classroom
Matlock: Riber Hall, home of George Allen
Riber Hall, with an early twentieth century painting by Henry Hadfield Cubley and info about some of the owners

There was supposed to have been the remains of a Druidical altar on Riber hill. It was mentioned by Peter Davies (1811)[10] and Ebenezer Rhodes (1824)[11], amongst others. Rhodes and his companion walked along "the side of the hill to Riber Top, where there is a singular assemblage of stones, supposed to have been originally a druidical altar; some antiquaries say, a cromlech, which appears more probable; they are called the Hirst Stones and are not unworthy of a visit[11] but it was destroyed less than a decade later[12]. It is possible Benjamin Bryan was referring to the Hirst Stones when he wrote the following in an article for the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal:: "This outcropping of rock was, I believe, the base of ancient stone monument about which I am writing ; but it has been removed. That this removal has been effected within some recent period is evidenced by the fact that the wall has never been thoroughly repaired at the spot where the rock clearly crops up"[13].

Riber became part of the parish of Tansley in 1865, though continued to be included under Matlock in the various directories. The children of the hamlet attended the National School at Starkholmes.
1891 Directory of Tansley
Historical Records: census returns and more trades directories

Elsewhere on this website:
Newspaper reports about one craftsmen
The Local Schools
Water Cures
Includes an engraving of Mr. Smedley's tent, where his employees worshipped
Churches and Chapels
Section of Ordnance Survey Map of Riber (1903)

Articles about:
"There Was Red Tape at Smedley's Hydro Then"
The Enduring Folly of Riber Castle
Riber Castle School "A Lesson in Matlock's History"

Elsewhere on the Internet:

Website about Maw & Co
The original link seems to be unavailable, so we can no longer see images of tiles used in the castle's fireplaces.
(In case the information should become available, they were images M147, M148, M159 and M254).


On the hillside below Riber, Starkholmes follows the line of the old road connecting Matlock Green with the village of Cromford. It overlooks Matlock Bath in the valley below but is only connected to that village by a steep footpath near the railway station. The footpath and the land on either side of it is the only access to Matlock Bath from that side of the valley and a footbridge over the River Derwent is at the lower end of the path. In July 1882 a resolution was passed to construct a road between Starkholmes and Matlock Bath, but this has never been implemented. There is a steep road (Riber Road) connecting Starkholmes with the hamlet of Riber.

In September 1893 Matlock's Local Board agreed to increase the water supply at Starkholmes by erecting a new reservoir but did not say where it would be[14]. There were two small reservoirs not far from the White Tor Road junction on Willersley Lane above Matlock Bath's station car park. They can be seen on OS maps of 1899 and 1922. The map in Bryan's History (1903)[4] also shows the two reservoirs, on either side of the road, with one in the grounds of Parkfield House. In 1924 that property was said to have its own water supply. The reservoirs were also marked on an 1938 map that was revised and published in 1950.

At a meeting on 18 January 1895 Frederic Arkwright and Canon Kewley, the Rector, offered to let a 3 acre field on Starkholmes Lane which was to be used as allotments. It proved to be so popular a scheme that when the tenants were admitted on 22nd March there were more applicants than available land and some were disappointed[4]. These first allotments at Starkholmes were not far from both the Methodist Church and the High Tor Recreation Ground and can be seen on the Ordnance Survey map of Derbyshire, published in 1899 (Map XXXIV, revised 1897). They were shown as Allotment Gardens in field no.898 and remained at this location until about 1924. This first allotment site was possibly sold between 1924 and 1927 as part of the Arkwright estate. Fortunately, Mr. Lynch stepped in and offered the use of his field below Hy Brasail (field no.966) in 1928 and Starkholmes residents were able to use this land for their allotments until late 2022. It has been a very popular amenity.
There is a short biography of John Joseph Lynch.

In 1902 the majority of ratepayers in Starkholmes and Riber signed a petition and then sent a letter to Matlock Bath's Council, requesting that the Council should take over the running of their area from Matlock Council. They claimed that their rates were unjustly spent or wasted in other parts of the parish (of Matlock), whilst some of the roads in their district were dangerous to both life and property. In addition, they pointed out that Starkholmes and Matlock Bath are only about 350 yards apart whereas Starkholmes had to send their vehicular traffic round by either Cromford or Matlock Bridge - a distance of 2½ to 3 miles. They also complained about the water supply and the very serious inconvenience during the summer or in dry seasons of either having to carry the water over half a mile or to drive their cattle that distance. They went further by adding that Matlock Bath was not only the original author of all the Matlocks, but beyond all possible doubt the mainstay of their present and future prospects[15]. Whilst this last point is unlikely to have gone down too well with Matlock's Councillors, the ratepayers had needed to raise the issues they felt were important.

At a poorly attended meeting of Matlock's Ratepayers Association a few days later it was pointed out that some of the larger ratepayers, including the Midland Railway Company, Mr. Arkwright, Messrs. Shaw and Nightingale, Mr. Wheatcroft and Mr. Middleditch, had not signed the petition[16]. So the larger number of individuals had signed the petition but the larger number of acres held had the most influence. Starkholmes remained in Matlock's Urban District.

part of Starkholmes
Starkholmes from the top of Holme Road, Matlock Bath, September 2008

Hatting has once been an important industry in Starkholmes and men from the district would also walk to the Lea Manufactory. The sale of Mr. John Walker's house in 1841, with Workshops, Warehouse, a Counting House as well as other structures he used as a Hat Manufactory underlines the extent of the trade there had been. There was also sufficient water on the premises to supply a Steam Engine. It was suggested that this might make the property well adapted to become a brewery, or even into a number of dwellings[17].

Early trade directories describe Starkholmes as "a district of scattered houses in this parish [Matlock][1848]. It was still said to be a district of scattered houses in 1941, almost a hundred years later![1941] Today there are considerably more properties in this part of the Matlocks.

One of the few stories to emerge from nineteenth century newspapers about Starkholmes occurred in 1845 when various newspapers carried an article about "An Ancient Bridegroom and Bride". Samuel Fox of Starkholmes married Mrs Martha Botham. "The united ages of the loving couple amounted to 135 years"[18]. It was clearly considered unusual for the times.

For many years a father and son, both named George James Eaton, both Fishing Tackle Manufacturers and keen fly fishermen, lived at Starkholmes. In the mid nineteenth century they provided advice about the fishing conditions on the Wye and Derwent rivers to The Field and their articles were reproduced in numerous newspapers.

from the Heights
Starkholmes and Ward's End from the Heights of Abraham. High Tor is bottom left

The Local Schools - for many years the children of the village attended the National School in Starkholmes.

Churches & Chapels - discusses the place of worship for Primitive Methodists and the Fox Memorial Primitive Methodist chapel that was built at Starkholmes in 1905.

Historical Records: trades directories and census info: see Kelly's 1876 Directory | Kelly's 1891 Directory | Bulmer's 1895 Directory (included under Matlock Bath) | Kelly's 1891 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory |
Also see Distribution of Occupations in the 1841 census and Distribution of Occupations in the 1871 census.

Mining for lead in the 1950s

More images of Starkholmes on this website:
- Starkholmes ARP Wardens, about 1940 |
- Starkholmes Sunday School Picnic, about 1920/1 |
- Starkholmes School, 1953 |
- Starkholmes Village Hall, 1953 |
- Starkholmes Women's Institute, late 1953 - Tree Planting |

Starkholmes and Riber from a Path to High Tor. Shows the field where Mr. Lynch set up replacement allotments in 1928.
Starkholmes, Sheffield Works Societies' Convalescent Home
Starkholmes & the Coronation of King George VI, 1937

Matlock Cliff

The area known as Matlock Cliff goes from Matlock Green towards the village of Tansley; some of Matlock Cliff became part of the parish of Tansley in 1865.

St. Andrew's Home, run by the Church of England Waifs' & Strays' Society as an orphanage, was in Ernest Bailey's former home on Matlock Cliff. It opened in 1901.

There are some photographs of the children from the home, dated 1914, in the Vernon Lamb Archive:





Also see Ernest Bailey's - one of The Local Schools
Historical Records: directory entries and census returns.
Have a look at Kelly's 1891 Directory
Have a look at Directory of Tansley 1891


The corn mills and bleach works of the district were in located in Lumsdale. This was an industrial area of Matlock, where most of the population of Tansley were employed at one time and is now an industrial archaeology site of some note. This small area supported some seventeen or so mills at one time, the earliest probably dating from the seventeenth century. They were able to operate because of the water power generated by one small stream, the Bentley Brook, that runs through the narrow Lumsdale valley and which falls about eighty feet. Weirs and ponds were constructed in the very steep hillside so the mills could operate and some of these are still intact, though the mills set into the hillside are in ruins. It is said that in winter time, when the waters were high, some mills were unable to operate because there was too much power! The Upper Lumsdale Valley, also a nature reserve, was declared an ancient monument in 2014.

The wider Lumsdale area also covers part of Tansley, where there are also mills and mill ponds, and follows the Knabhall or Tansley Brook. Tansley Mill (later Scholes), a cotton mill was built here at the end of the eighteenth century for Samuel Unwin (see Lumsdale Ponds). Both these valleys are part of Lumsdale Conservation area today.

Before 1800 there had been lead smelting works in Lumsdale (see Lead Mining and Lumsdale, about 1900). The valleys supported cotton, tape, paper, saw mills etc. and there was even a small railway that carried the cotton between what was the Upper Bleach Mill and Garton's Mill. The tracks can still be seen.

In 1857 Lumsdale was describes as '1½ miles east from Matlock. Here are three bleach works and a cotton spinning factory, all of which are in Tansley[6]'. Matlock Mills, in Lumsdale, advertised its use of water & steam in 1891[1891]. The proprietor of this mill was the miller Ernest Henry Bailey, who was also a dealer in barley, oats, Indian corn and linseed cakes etc.

The names of several families, Garton, Radford, Farnsworth and Drabble, dominated the ownership the industries in Lumsdale during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Several generations of the Garton family lived in Lumsdale in the nineteenth; they were there for almost a hundred years, owning a bleach works (Garton's Mill) and barytes manufacturing business as well as being farmers. In 1870 the Derby Mercury reported that Mr. Garton had given all his workforce a roast beef dinner. The article went on to say that "Mr Garton kindly pays all his workpeople their wages for Christmas and Good Friday, which has been a custom at these works for more than half a century"[19]. When Joseph Hodgkinson, the Matlock auctioneer, advertised the auction of Edward Hall Garton's Lumsdale Estate in 1906 it included a farm of about 25 acres, and 14 Lots of property, made up of accommodation, land, cottages, the bleach works in the Lumsdale, formerly occupied by the late Mr Garton (by then leased to the Farnsworths), together with the valuable water-power connected with the estate[20]. In 1929 Paton & Baldwins bought the Farnsworths' bleaching and dyeing mills[21] but in 1936 about 80 employees were made redundant, mostly men who had worked at the Mill for 40 years[22]. After the Second World War the company announced it would continue to make angora yarn at its two Matlock Mills.

The Radfords were at Tansley Wood Mills as bleachers, candlewick manufacturers and cotton spinners. They were to lease the mill to Arthur K Baines & Co., and then to Robert Lowe who was also at Tansley Mill (later Scholes). Frederick Henry Drabble took over the lease of the Tansley Wood site, eventually buying it, and four generations of Drabbles kept the Mill running. They were bleachers, dyers and wool and waste merchants. Drabbles Mill eventually closed - after 110 years in Lumsdale - in 1999, shortly after it changed its name. It had many loyal employees during its existence; their long service must have meant they were happy at Drabbles.

The mill buildings in the upper part of the valley on the Bentley Brook became derelict and the valley was neglected until Mrs. Marjorie Mills stepped in and purchased it in 1939. She did not have the resources to take care of the land or restore the buildings, but it is thanks to her that the derelict buildings have survived as she refused permission to demolish them so the stone could be used for other purposes. There is a Lumsdale project group today, made up of Lumsdale residents and members of the Arkwright Society and under the Arkwright Society's umbrella, which is concerned with preserving and restoring the historic site.

When a Russian delegation visited Matlock some years ago they were particularly interested in both Matlock Bath's Masson Mill beside the River Derwent and Lumsdale.


Lumsdale 1

Waterfalls on the mill stream, Lumsdale
As the photographs show, the densely wooded valley is very picturesque.

Lumsdale 2

Lumsdale, about 1900
Matlock's oldest industrial area
Image of Lumsdale in a
Tourist Booklet of Matlock, Matlock Bath & District, about 1900

Lumsdale Ponds
Tansley Mill later (Scholes) Dam and the Middle Pond

Matlock Town and Green Residents, 1891
Kelly's 1891 Directory of Tansley
Also see the Historical Records

Photographs kindly provided by and © Paul Kettle, Andy Andrews, Ann Andrews and Susan Tomlinson.
Information researched by and written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links go to on site transcripts):

[1] Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London.

[2] "General Commercial Directory and Topography of the Borough of Sheffield with all the Towns, Parishes, Villages and Hamlets Within a Circuit of Twenty Miles" (1862), pub. Francis White & Co. Sheffield. See Names in White's Directory, 1862.

[3] The Crown Inn was rebuilt towards the end of the nineteenth century, moved a few yards down the road to the site on the corner of Bank Road and Bakewell Road and re branded as The Crown Hotel. It had been a much smaller establishment before then. The Crown was mentioned in both 19th century directories and Matlock census returns. The building has been considerably altered in more recent times and is no longer an hotel. The Boat House was mentioned by Adam in "Gem of the Peak" and also appears in the early trade directories and census returns. This is (2019) no longer a hotel.

[4] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited. Bryan made the same mistake as others when it came to Riber, attributing the initials on the date stone on Riber Old Hall (now Riber manor) to the Wolley family.

[5] Matlock Tithe Award, 1848/9.

[6] White, Francis (1857) "History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derby", Francis White & Co. See Names in White's Directory, 1857

[7] Mee, Arthur (ed.) (1937) "Derbyshire: The Peak Country",The King's England Series, Hodder and Stoughton Limited, London

[8] Lysons, Rev Daniel and Samuel Lysons Esq. (1817) "Topographical and Historical Account of Derbyshire" London: Printed for T. Cadell, Strand; and G. and A. Greenland, Poultry. This is the Derbyshire section of their "Magna Britannia". They unfortunately quote the wrong year for Anthony Wolley's death as the say he died in 1668. He was buried at St. Giles in 1669 (see burial and his MI.

[9] See Riber Old Hall (now Riber Manor House) in the 1891 census and Riber Hall in the 1891 census and the 1901 census

[10] Davies, David Peter (1811) "History of Derbyshire" pub. S. Mason, Belper. Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811 is based on this book and what Davies wrote can be found under Matlock.

[11] Rhodes, Ebenezer "Peak Scenery" pub. London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster Row.

[12] Jewitt, Llewellynn Frederick William (?1860) "The Matlock Companion and Visitor's Guide to the Beauties of the Peak of Derbyshire ... " pub. Derby Telegraph Office: Derby

[13] Extract from "On a Cromlech formerly standing on Riber Hill", Benjamin Bryan (1887), Derbyshire Archaeological Society's Journal.

[14] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 6 September 1893.

[15] "Derbyshire Times", 12 July 1902.

[16] "Derbyshire Times", 19 July 1902.

[17] "Derby Mercury" 11 August 1841. It was to be sold by Mr. W. Cotes at the house of Samuel Fox, The White Lion. Mr. Walker was still living at the property, which had a spacious yard and garden, with a croft behind.

[18] "The Morning Post", 5 July, 1845.

[19] "The Derby Mercury", 19 January, 1870. The Garton surname can be found in all the census returns 1841-1901 and other Historical Records.

[20] "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 18 August 1906. To be sold at auction by Joseph Hodgkinson at the Red Lion ... the Lumsdale Estate.

[21] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 6 March 1931.

[22] "Derbyshire Times", 8 May 1936. "Matlock had an unpleasant shock ..."

[1848] "The Post Office Directory of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutlandshire" (1848), Kelly and Co., London
[1891] "Kelly's Directory of the Counties of Derby, Notts, Leicester and Rutland" (May, 1891), pub. London
There are online transcripts: 19th century directories
[1908] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1908 } There are online transcripts: 20th century directories
[1932] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1932 (not transcribed on this site)
[1941] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1941 (not transcribed on this site)