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Matlock: The Bridge (5), late 1940s
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Bank House, formerly Riversdale House,
about 1902

We can read a few shop signs on this post war image - there is Dakin's next to the bridge, Orme's on the Crown Square/Causeway Lane corner and Greaves' furniture store just up Bank Road on the corner of Lime Grove Walk. In the foreground is the very grand colonnade erected in 1920 at the main entrance to what was then Williams Deacon's Bank, later the RBS[1]. The metal handrail next to the former bank's wall is still in place today although the letter box has been removed.

Over the years there were a number of traffic accidents on the corner where the women were walking, as some drivers took the bend too fast. In one incident in 1929 the Urban District Council's surveyor, Joseph Turner, was unfortunately knocked over and injured by an Austin Seven said to be travelling at 20 to 25 mph. The vehicle appeared to skid and afterwards smashed a street lamp, with the driver claiming he was dazzled by the lights of another car. He had visited two pubs but denied that the visits had caused his accident. He was fined for dangerous driving but in those days penalty points were not added to a driving license[2].

Bridges seem to be curiously magnetic. In April and early May 1930, for example, the town's police were said to be "totally mystified" by the appearance in the River Derwent of quantities of knives and forks that had been, presumably, thrown in. The first batch was seen glittering on the river bed and was described as a large amount when it was recovered. Two weeks later more was found at the same spot and on 16th May a third batch was discovered. There were no claimants and presumably no distinguishing marks on the items[3]. All very odd and not a little fishy!

Locals were always ready to help those who were seen in difficulties in the water. The Dale Road optician D. L. Head rescued a 70 year old female visitor from Southport in 1936. She had been seen struggling below the bridge having fallen in and, although she wasn't in deep water, the current was strong and she was unconscious when rescued. P.c. McCallum applied artificial respiration and she was resuscitated before being taken to Whitworth Hospital to recover.[4]

Another odd incident happened in March 1944. March cannot be described as a warm month and residents were startled to see a man mount the parapet of the County Bridge and jump from a height of 20 feet into the river below. He proved to be powerful swimmer and swam under water, against the current, for a time. He managed to reach a small island. P.c. Brown of the Matlock constabulary was preparing to follow him into the water when the man decided to swim on and headed for the opposite bank. Fortunately, Brown had sufficient time to reach the bank, grab him and haul him out. He was taken to the lock up, his clothes were dried and he was detained[5].

Finally, I'm very curious about the woman pushing the pram across the road on a summer's afternoon just a few years later. She is approximately the same height and build as my late mother, with a floral dress and whitened shoes that were fashionable at the time. The only problem is that the pram does not match the one in family photos. Does anyone know who she was?

"Parade, Matlock Bank". Postcard published by District View Publishers, Leicester. Real Photo. British Made. Unused.
Postcard in the collection, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Sheffield and Rotherham Bank 1792 -1992 A Banking Bicentenary. The Royal Bank of Scotland in Matlock". Leaflet produced by RBS.

[2] "Nottingham Evening Post", 6 March 1929 (Matlock Surveyor Knocked Down and Injured) and "Derby Daily Telegraph", 30 March 1929.

[3] "Sheffield Independent", 17 May 1930. Cutlery in River. Police Puzzled by Finds at Matlock.

[4] The incident was reported in the "Derby Daily Telegraph", on 12 and 13 August 1936. It was also reported by the "Derbyshire Times", 14 August 1936. The rescued woman was not named.

[5] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 10 March 1944. Plunged 20ft. into River.