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Hands bus in Matlock Bath

Hands bus in Crown Square, 1928-30

Furniss's Garage,
Crown Square

Allens Garage

Matlock Bath Buses
1912-33 (Part 1)

Matlock Bath Buses
1912-33 (Part 2)

Charabancs in Matlock Bath in the 1920s

William Sherwin Hand's newly built garage near the Crown Hotel was due to be finished on 1st August 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War. It was large enough to hold thirty of his vehicles[1]. He had formerly operated out of the Gate Livery Stables on Smedley Street, taking over the business set up by his father Henry[2] .

Henry Hand, the son of a Nottinghamshire farmer, arrived in Matlock with his family before 1881 and Henry served as a local policeman for a while[3]. Some time between 1882 and 1884 he became a carriage proprietor and in 1884 he was a joint signatory to a letter that was sent to Matlock Bridge District Council by several cab proprietors regarding the removal of a cab stand outside All Saint's Church[4]. He attended a Board meeting in 1897, when a House of Lords decision was pending, and asked if the Council had any authority over the vehicles that were for hire at Matlock Bath Station which was "in the area of that district"[5]. Presumably he wanted to extend his business. He became a Councillor on Matlock's Local Board[6]. Henry Hand retired in early 1909[7] and died later that year[8].

His son William expanded the firm, not just by opening his Ford dealership in Crown Square. In 1912 he became involved in providing a bus service, alongside William Furniss, that was to run between Matlock and Cromford[9]. An extension to the route was proposed when the tram service closed in 1927. There was to be a Bank service from the Duke of Wellington, but Hands firm was not included in the scheme until January 1928[10]. Hands had become a limited company after the war and the Directors had been very extremely dissatisfied with the way the Council had handled the negotiations for the new service[10]. When they eventually joined the other providers on this longer route they initially used a converted charabanc, though a new Leyland bus was delivered about a month afterwards[10]. In 1930 Hands supplied one of the five buses per hour on the route between the Duke of Wellington, via Smedley Street and Matlock Green (or Sheriff Lodge and the Dimple) to the Greyhound Hotel in Cromford[10]. They also applied, unsuccessfully, to extend their route to Bonsall but the village's Urban District Council considered their existing bus service was adequate[11]. On 1st July 1933 North Western acquired Hand's, becoming the sole operator on the Duke of Wellington to Cromford route at the end of that year[10].

The extent of Hands fleet can be seen from a list of applications for vehicle licenses considered by Matlock UDC on 30 May 1928 when they were applying for licenses for thirteen vehicles, for eleven drivers and four conductors. At the time Hand's owned a Motor Landaulette (for 6 passengers), four motor charabancs (which would carry 11, 14, 18 and 20 passengers respectively) as well as four motor buses (for 14, 20, 26 and 25 passengers)[12]. The vehicles that North Western gained from the Hand's purchase were two Daimlers, two Austins, the Leyland PLSC3 bought in 1928, a Dennis ES, three Dennis EVs (two bought in 1930 and one in 1931) and a Ford; they were sold on[13]. The Hand family moved to Bournemouth and William Hand died in Derby in 1959.

One final item of interest concerns William's sister, Emma (later Pembroke or Pem) Hand, who had married Horace Donegani at All Saints' in 1899[14]. The couple's two sons were born in Matlock but the family emigrated to Niagara Falls, New York. Their elder son, the Rt. Rev. Horace William Bladen Donegan (he had dropped the "i" off his surname), became the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of New York of the Episcopal Church (1950 - 1972)[15].

1930 advertisement, published on the Matlock Operatic Society programme for that year.
The Society were performing "The Gondoliers" at the Cinema House (later the Ritz Cinema), Matlock

Henry Hand 1903
1903 advertisement for Henry Hand's Gate Hotel Livery Stables, and also of Pope Carr


Front, showing the fare
  ticket1 back
Back, advertising their other services

A Hands ticket issued on the Duke of Wellington to Cromford Route, 1928-33.

More tickets, including some of their other routes.
Some have just punch holes, whereas others have also been torn.



Hands Vehicles etc in the Vernon Lamb Archive






Hand's Ford Dealership image in the collection of and provided by and © Glynn Waite.
Hand's advertisement 1. Matlock & District Amateur Operatic Society programme 1930, published by Geo. Hodgkinson, Matlock Printing Works in the collection of and provided by and © Ann Andrews
Hand's advertisement 2. From "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated." (1903) Abel Heywood & Son, Manchester & London. In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Hands bus tickets in the collection of and provided by and © Glynn Waite.
Written and researched by and © Ann Andrews. Intended for personal use only

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

[1] Taylor, Keith (2010) "Matlock and the Great War 1914 - 1919", Country Books/Ashridge Press. ISBN 978 1 906789 38 1. Limited Edition.

[2] Henry and William Hand advertised in Matlock trade directories from 1887 - 1932:
Kelly's 1887 Directory (Henry) | Kelly's 1891 Directory (Henry) | Kelly's 1895 Directory (Henry) | Kelly's 1899 Directory (Henry) | Kelly's 1908 Directory (Henry) | Kelly's 1912 Directory (William) | Kelly's 1916 Directory (William) | Kelly's 1925 Directory (William, Crown Sq and Smedley Street) | Kelly's 1932 Directory (William, Crown Sq)

[3] Henry was the son of Henry and Jane Hand, who farmed 130 acres in Selston Green (1861 census). Henry and his family were living in Aston, Birmingham at the time of the 1871 census, where he worked as a Railway Pointsman. They had moved to Matlock Bank by the 1881 census (Henry was a Police Constable at that time). He attended the scene of a fatality in 1882 ("Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 1 April 1882: P.C. Henry Hand, of Matlock Bank), so he was still a policeman then.

[4] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 6 September 1884.

[5] "Derby Mercury", 9 December 1896. Monthly meeting of Matlock UDC. The Matlock / Matlock Bath boundary is the river and Matlock Bath station was built on the Matlock side of the river. The chairman, Mr. Slack, said they could do nothing until the House of Lords had given their judgment about the issue.

[6] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 26 July 1902. One of newspaper several reports showing him as a Councillor.

[7] "The London Gazette", 26 February 1909. Henry Hand had retired on 8th February.

[8] He was buried at St. Giles, where there is an MI. Also see Wills, H.

[9] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 2 May 1912. An agreement was to be signed within next few days.

[10] Waite, Glynn (2012) "The Matlock Cable Tramway", Pynot Publishing, 50 Main Road, Holmesfield, Dronfield, Derbyshire. ISBN 978-0-9562706-5-8. Glynn provides a picture of the Hand's charabanc on p.53. His book describes in more detail the discussions surrounding the establishment of a bus route to replace the tram. It includes the transcript of a strongly worded letter sent by Hand's Company Secretary, William Jaffrey, to Matlock's Council. Also see Bank Road and the Steep Gradient Tramway.

[11] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 16 July 1930.

[12] Copied from the Council minutes by Glynn Waite. It is not clear whether all applications were granted.

[13] Glynn Waite extracted this information from an Omnibus Society publication about North Western buses, which gave details of the vehicles the company inherited from other firms (and the dates) and what subsequently happened to them, although not all were traced. The acquisition of the Hand's vehicles was dated August 1933.

[14] See Emma with her parents on New Street in the 1891 census and with her parents, husband and elder son on Smedley St. in the 1901 census. The marriage of Emma and Horace was reported in Emma Hand mar Horace George Donegani in the "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 8 July 1899.

[15] H W B Donegani was b. at Cordella, Matlock Bank on 17 May, 1900 and died 11 November, 1991, Sanibel Island, Florida,USA. His younger brother, Harold Hand Donegani, was born in 1903. This information has been provided by Douglas Donegani of Toronto, to whom I am very grateful. See Donegani family portrait. Also see Biographies.