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Matlock Bath: The High Tor, the Railway and the Gas Works, mid 1860s
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The Railways of Derbyshire, 1903
(Old Maps of Derbyshire)

Midland Railway Distances

"The High Tor" is a high quality Carte de Visite, taken by the Petschlers, of the railway embankment between Matlock Bath Station and the High Tor Tunnel. The scene also includes a view of the River Derwent and the Gas works on the far side of the track. The bridge under the track led to the Gas works entrance. It was accessed by a road from the railway bridge, raised up from the river, that ran along the bottom of the embankment.

In 1852 a public meeting was held in Matlock Bath to discuss, amongst other things, "the propriety of lighting Matlock Bath and its vicinity with gas"[1]. Matlock Gas Light and Coke Company was formed the following year and, at the end of 1853, considerable progress had been made.

"Mr. George Edward Peters, of Peterborough, is the contractor for the entire gas works, which, for the short time they have been commenced, are progressing satisfactorily. The site for the necessary buildings and apparatus was kindly granted by P. Arkwright, Esq., on a plot of ground near the Matlock Bath railway station, and a five minutes walk out of the village, and nearly out of site of the main road, so that no scenery will be interfered with, or any annoyance experienced[2].

More shares were raised in 1857; a meeting in May of that year was held at the Queen's Head when almost 100 shares were raised in the room, despite the meeting having been called rather early in the evening[3].

Enlargement showing the early Gas works buildings

Lists Through the Centuries: The Nineteenth Century: Return of Owners of Land 1873 - Derbyshire (scroll down to Gas Company)
The Gas Works Manager can be found in White's 1857 Directory and White's 1862 Directory.
Mr. Petschler also took a stereoview of Holy Trinity Church.
High Tor, Matlock Bath, a postcard from 1906 or before, is in the "Just" Images section.

So who were the Petschlers?

Helmuth Petschler was a German born merchant who settled in the Manchester area, marrying Alice Hadfield Bennett at Glossop in 1854. He began taking photographs after his first business failed and images such as this one were by H. Petschler & Co. According to another photograph, held by TNA, their Manchester Photographic Company Limited was established in 1865 although later pictures also bore labels stating they were by H. Petschler & Co. It is likely the couple used the train to travel to the places they photographed. Sadly, their business was shortlived as Helmuth was buried at Bowdon, CHS on 14 Oct 1869. Alice seems to have kept on the business for a couple more years as she was described as a photographer in the 1871 census[4]. She had an extremely difficult time for a few years, through no fault of her own, following her husband's early death. However, their legacy is the fine body of photographic work that has survived.

View even more about the station by clicking on the images below:

19C stereoview1

19C stereoview2


Tunnel, 19C

About 1906



Station House

Today, image3

The High Tor, near Matlock Bath. A Carte de Visite published by H. Petschler & Co., 84 Market Street, Manchester. Photographic Printers & Publishers, No.361.
From the collection of and © Ann Andrews.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts and information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] "Derby Mercury", 18 August 1852. Projected Improvements at Matlock Bath.

[2] "Derbyshire Courier", 17 December 1853. Gas at Matlock.

[3] Reported in both the "Derby Mercury", 13 May 1857 and the "Derbyshire Courier", 16 May 1857. Matlock Bath New Gas Company.

[4] The information was printed on the reverse of 2452/45a. Further information about the Petschlers comes from parish registers and census returns.