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Matlock: The Bridge (4), and the Broad Walk
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Crown Square, 1901



Hall Leys Park - The Broad Walk, about 1920


From the Vernon Lamb Archive


VLA5019



VLA5026



This image shows the south side of the County Bridge crossing the River Derwent in central Matlock. It affords us a good view of the old rag mill on the far side of the bridge[1], with buildings in the station yard beyond it. On the right are the backs of three shops and the smithy in Crown Square that were demolished in the 1920s.

Matlock Urban District Council agreed to complete their footpath from the Hall Lees Promenade along the riverside, as far as the Dale Road iron bridge, in readiness for the Whitsun Bank Holiday of 1902[2]. They announced that for the first month the Matlock United Prize Band would play in the Victoria Hall or Grounds on Tuesday nights, on Thursdays on the Hall Lees Promenade or in the Town Hall[3].

Charles E. Parlato, a "Polyglot Entertainer", revealed that he had taken a house on Bakewell Road in October 1901[4]. He provided daily entertainments on the Hall Lees the following year, except on Sundays, that were said to be varied and interesting[5]. He even provided his own staging and in the September the Council agreed that it could stay there over the winter; they were even considering a three year contract[6]. Sadly for Mr. Parlato, they appear to have changed their minds as the District Council chairman stated in November that he had received serious complaints from parents and passers by who had objected the entertainments so he was given notice to remove his stage[7]. Parlato refuted this a week later, stating that the majority of people in Matlock had watched his shows and he had never received any complaint. He hoped the Chairman would withdraw his charge. Indeed, he affirmed that the Council had extended his license to finish at the end of October instead of at the beginning of the month[8]. He subsequently had to apply for Administration of his affairs[9].

There had been a number of old poplars along the Promenade and in early 1904 the Council's Chairman, Job Smith, remarked that the trees were in a dangerous condition; he thought it safer to fell them rather than just lop the tops off. Initially it was hoped to replace the poplars with limes, using the profits from the sale of the felled timber to buy the lime trees. Mr Hartley subsequently suggested that a hundred chestnuts should be planted before the end of the year; the idea was favourably received by the Council[10]. By the May the promenade had been planted with about a hundred young trees and was thought to be "an inviting spot". The 16-foot wide footway had not been constructed at this point as they were awaiting the major work to widen the bridge, but it was felt it would be a great improvement when the work was completed[11]. Here we can see the finished footway, with new young trees planted and the fencing (constructed with old tram cables between the posts).

Cycling was forbidden on the promenade as it was designed for pedestrian use only, though in 1908 some young chap - a "venturesome youth" - was seen there riding his bike one evening for a dare![12]


Enlargement of a section of the above postcard shows, from the left, the back of Orme's wholesale and retail grocers,
the drapery of either Castle & Hurd or Margerrisons and Mr. Phillips' hairdressing salon. The smaller building on the right
was Abram Thompson's smithy[13]. Beyond that is the Crown Hotel.
Notice the three women seated on the riverbank who were possibly enjoying a picnic.


A Local Government Board inquiry in May 1908, held at the Town Hall, discussed the issue of the UDC borrowing £4000 to pay for two freehold fields known as the Haw Lees that were next to the Promenade (already owned by the UD). There was an 1847 tithe on the land to one side. One suggestion was that the low lying ground of the Haw Lees could be raised by having a rubbish tip on the two fields for ten years or so!12] Just what should be avoided in the centre of a town that made its money out of hydropathy and tourism. Thankfully the rubbish tip idea was quashed.


1. and 2. "Matlock Bridge". Published by A. E. Shaw & Co., Blackburn. West End Series. Unused. The card has a heavy brown, picture frame style border; it has been cropped from the top. Date unknown, but other West End Series postcards in collections were posted 1907-11.
Postcard in the collection, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] There is another view of the rag mill on Looking south from Jackson Tor, 1928. The mill's chimney can also be seen on Matlock - looking towards Hackney, early 20th Century | Matlock: Holt Lane and Dale Road, about 1900 | The Popular Album of Matlock. You have to look hard, but it also can be seen on Matlock Bank and Bridge, 1900-02 (second image) and Matlock Bank, the Hall Leys and Dale Road, 1912-20 (top image).

[2] "Derbyshire Times", 12 April 1902.

[3] "ibid.", 10 May 1902.

[4] "Derbyshire Courier", 19 October 1901. He advertised in a number of newspapers.

[5] "Derbyshire Times", 6 September 1902. His entertainment on the Hall Lees had been performed for a total of 24 week by this stage.

[6] "ibid.", 27 September 1902.

[7] "ibid.", 8 November 1902. The Haw Lees Promenade.

[8] "ibid.",, 15 November 1902. Letter to the Editor. He was living at Huntbridge Cottage on Matlock Green by this time.

[9] "ibid.", 06 May 1903. Mr. Parlato had accumulated debts of between £40 and £50.

[10] "Derbyshire Courier", 23 January 1904 and 6 February 1904.

[11] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 19 May 1904.

[12] "Belper News", 15 May 1908. Proposed purchase of New Recreation Ground.

[13] The front of these businesses can be seen from the front on Crown Square, 1901.

[14] "Belper News", 22 May 1908. Proposed purchase of New Recreation Ground.