The top image is of the northern side of Matlock Bridge, not long
after it was widened in the early years of the twentieth century.
The picture shows the new stonework. On the right, on the far
side, are the shops of Dale Road; the upper storeys of the Queen's
Head Hotel can also be seen.
It had taken quite some time for a decision to be made about the
bridge (see The Old Bridge,
Matlock) and there were further delays after the plans had
been approved. In early January 1903 the District Council agreed
to view the site with Mr Fisher, who owned the land the County
Council needed for the bridge widening project. It was hoped that
there would be "no further needless delay in starting the
at a Ratepayers Association meeting later that month it was reported
that the Council was trying to buy the land from Mr. Fisher
at a reasonable price.
Unfortunately, by April 1903 the Bridges and Highways committee
had still not reached any agreement with Mr. Fisher regarding
the price. They instructed that the matter should "be
brought before the session ... Colonel Cavendish said a jury
at the next sessions would decide what the county would have
to pay in respect of Matlock Bridge".
The County Council eventually reached agreement with Mr. Fisher,
£2 per yard for 61½ yards. The contract for the work
to widen the bridge was let to Mr. G. F. Tomlinson, of Derby, for £3,996
Work was underway in early October 1903 but
the river flooded later that month and the bridge widening was
delayed for weeks.
However, by January 1904 Derbyshire County Council's Bridges and
Highways Committee reported "that satisfactory progress is
being made with the re-building and widening of Matlock Bridge.
It was originally arranged that the arches should be built of blue
brick, faced with stone, but the committee considered it would
be better to build them throughout with stone, which will involve
an additional £200".
Local people believed the work was not being done quickly enough.
Job Smith read out a letter from the Matlock Ratepayers and Property
Owners' Association at the Urban District Council meeting of 2
May 1904, asking the Council "to press for expedition in connection
with the widening of the bridge". Mr. Smith pointed out that "the
contract lasted until September next, but members thought the work
would not be completed by that time, and a resolution was adopted
urging the County Bridges and Highways officials to expedite matters".
The bridge widening venture was not completed without incident.
On 2nd September 1904 James Hodgkinson, a 27 year old married man
from Darley Dale employed by the contractor was working
on the bridge with another man when some of the stonework and scaffolding
collapsed. Hodgkinson was thrown into the river and buried under
the heavy wooden scaffolding. A steam crane was used to rescue him,
and he was taken to Whitworth Hospital. His ribs and chest were been
badly crushed but he fortunately survived the accident.
The second postcard shows the bridge from the south, looking upstream.
On the right are some of the buildings of Crown Square. Above the
new stone wall beside the bridge was Orme's grocery, next to
the Broadwalk going down to the Hall Leys. It was one of a group
of buildings that were demolished in the 1920s. The shops
and houses on the far side of the road are little different today.
This card was sent in early January and the sender wrote that "we
are glad of milder weather but the hills looked lovely covered
Moore's description of Cromford Bridge in 1818 This also has
arches that differ in shape.
AutoChrome Album of Matlock & District". Scroll
down the page to see a coloured picture of Matlock Bridge before
it was widened.
Long and Winding Road