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Matlock: Dale Road, Boat House Hotel & River, early 1900s
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Stone Quarrying in the Matlocks
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The Quarries

Boating on the River, 1930s

Matlock Station shows railway bridge over the road

In 1780 Matlock Boat-House was advertised as being to Let. It was described as being "pleasantly situated on the Road-Side, near the River Derwent, about one Mile from the Bath, with good Stables and Gardens ; fit either for a private Family or an Inn", with particulars available from Mr. Leacroft[1]. In 1813 the lease on the property had thirteen more years to run. Another advertisement was the first time we see limestone burning or quarrying mentioned in relation to the Boat House. "The land abounds with limestone and the purchaser will have the use of getting and selling the stone, or of burning the same into Lime, without paying any extra rent for the premises for the reminder of the lease"[2]. The Boat House Inn, together with a cottage and Lime Works, was on the market again in 1829 when it was to be auctioned by George Smith. The tenant at the time, William Rawson, was to show the premises to prospective buyers[3].

When Mr. Adin sold his property in 1837 the stone built Boat House Inn had a parlour, several good lodging rooms, cellars, brewhouse, kitchen, stable and coach house with chamber over, small dwelling house and a good garden. The lime kiln had been "lately lined through with brick at considerable expence". It also had a carpenter's shop, a boat on the river and additional land on which "several houses might be built". Its frontage on the Matlock and Bakewell turnpike road was over a hundred and six yards in length[4]. The rest of his estate - household furniture as well as a bag of hops and a strong built double bodied phaeton - were sold a short time later[5].

William Hill, who had married Mr. Adin's widow Ruth, owned the Boathouse Inn Cottage Outbuildings Yards Gardens and part of [a] Stone Quarry in 1848[6]. He also owned 2 perches of Derwent Bank. Charles Eaton occupied the premises at that time.

We learn from White's Directory of 1862[7] that the Hotel was "within ten minutes' walk of Matlock Bridge station, and is fitted up with every convenience conducive to the comfort of visitors, who can, at a minute's notice, be supplied with boats for a row on the river". The bridge in the picture, with two large rounded arches and one square one plus a small arch for pedestrians on the far bank, is the railway bridge built when the railway arrived in Matlock in the late 1840s. Some children are standing on the pavement opposite the Hotel, close to a gap in the wall and an open wooden gate that leads to a small area of the riverbank where there are gardens. Presumably, it was from here that boats mentioned in White's Directory could be hired and was where the private waters for fishermen also were[8].

Next to the railway bridge is a small area with a small stone hut on it. It may have been where the lime kiln, shown on the 1879 OS map, had been[9]. William Rawson had been in possession of a Cottage and a newly established Lime works belonging to it in 1829, which were part of the Boat House holdings[10]. It may also have been where, in the 1890s, a chimney sweep decided to set up home. He occupied a dwelling on stilts that was in a recess off the main road; his home was constructed of wood and resembled a disused railway carriage. It was believed by some that it should not be tolerated[11]!

The hotel itself looks a little battered in these images. A letter was read at a Council meeting in 1900, drawing attention hotel's sign being dangerous; the owner was to remove it[12]. Whether this is the replacement is not known, but there was still a sign on the next image, when the hotel looked a little more cared for. The following year the Town Clerk was to write to the County Council about legal proceedings against a visitor who had, allegedly, damaged a wall near the Boat House Hotel[13]. These walls look strong, but Derbyshire County Council would have had to repair the damage and, presumably, prosecute the vandal.

In 1907 Francis Dawbarn Stones wrote to a local paper complaining about the state of the road "where the asphalt began just before the bridge" as his motor car has skidded, as though on ice, when he was travelling from Matlock Bath. One of the rear wheels of his vehicle was broken. He blamed watering the road in dry weather without scraping or cleaning the road surface first, as the water could neither soak through the surface nor run off it. The water mixed with the dust that had accumulated on the surface, forming "a dangerous greasy mixture". It meant that neither flat shod horses nor motor vehicles or cycles could get any kind of traction. Mr. Stones was not the only one to skid that day. Two cyclists had done so, damaging themselves and their cycles, whilst a flat shod horse with a load could scarcely stand. He hoped the District Council would ensure it was properly cleaned[14]. A little over three weeks later there was a torrential downpour and the road by the Boat House was flooded once again[15].

There is a list of all the hotel's known licensees, listed alphabetically, 1775 - 1950s.
See Matlock: Dale Road, Boat House Hotel & River, about 1908. With Licensees.

Boat House, with boat

More images of the Boat House

1. "Matlock Bridge". Derbyshire "Artistic" Series, published by G. Marsden & Son, Wirksworth and London, No.2606. Posted at Matlock 4 Aug 1909. Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Susan Tomlinson collection.
2. "Matlock Bridge". Boots Cash Chemists "Pelham" Series, Printed in Prussia. Unused. 1906-09. Stamp box states Half Penny Stamp Inland. Penny Stamp Foreign. In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.

Researched by and written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links go to on site transcripts):

[1] "Derby Mercury", 16 June 1780, Advertisement. Mr. Leacroft was a local attorney: see Leacroft Pedigree.

[2] "Derby Mercury", 14 January 1813, Advertisement.

[3] "Derby Mercury", 1 July 1829, Advertisement.

[4] "Derbyshire Courier", 18 March 1837. William Adin passed away two days later. See: Will, Surnames A - 1837 (it does not mention property's name).
He had married Ruth Allsworth (or Halsworth) at Bulwell on 18 Jun 1832 by licence; he then lived at St Peter, Nottingham. His widow, Ruth, inherited his estate. She went on the marry William Hill, her husband's friend and executor, on 30 Oct 1837 at Kennington. They were living at Pentrich in 1841. Ruth passed away in 1873, aged 87.

[5] "Derbyshire Courier", 17 June 1837.

[6] Matlock Tithe Award, 1848/9, Derbyshire Record Office. Ruth's husband pre-deceased her.

[7] "General Commercial Directory and Topography of the Borough of Sheffield with all the Towns, Parishes, Villages and Hamlets Within a Circuit of Twenty Miles", pub. Francis White & Co. Sheffield (1862). See on site transcript

[8] See Matlock: River Derwent near the Boat House Hotel, about 1904-5.

[9] Derbyshire Sheet XXXIV.NE. Surveyed: 1879, Published: 1884. It shows a lime kiln in the quarry area between the Boat House and the Railway (to the north of Boat House). At least two of the licensees, Mr. Eaton and Mr. Rawson, were involved with lime burning whilst they at the hotel.

[10] "Derby Mercury", 1 July 1829. Sale notice forthe Boat House Inn, Cottage and Lime Works, near Matlock Bridge.

[11] "The Matlock Visiting List", 8 Nov 1893 and 31 January 1894. Whilst it seems a little arrogant of the journalist to write that it shouldn't be tolerated, he was probably an itinerant worker and had to live somewhere whilst sweeping Matlock's chimneys.

[12] "Derbyshire Times", 7 March 1900. Meeting of Matlock Council. The sign reads "Boat House Hotel Parties Catered For."

[13] "Derbyshire Times", 17 April 1901. The visitor's actions were described as the "wilful throwing down of a wall", so he or she must have pushed it over.

[14] "Derbyshire Times", 28 September, 1907. Dangerous Road at Matlock. To the Editor

[15] "Newark Advertiser", 23 October, 1907. Great Rain Storm. Miles of Countryside Flooded in Derbyshire. Two inches of rain fell in Matlock. See: Flooding in the Matlocks.