The photograph above shows part of Dale Road, Matlock, taken in the
early twentieth century; we can see the Boat House Hotel and
the the railway line that used to connect Matlock with London
and Manchester. Greatorex's tar boiling works can
also be seen quite clearly on the left of the picture in Harvey
Dale Quarry; his quarry extended behind several buildings.
The quarry behind the Boat House was called Holt Quarry.
The iron footbridge over the River Derwent replaced the
ferry boat, which was the only means of crossing the river at this
point until 1872. However, the box girder bridge in the photographs
above and below wasn't the first to be built.
In August 1872 the Derby Mercury had optimistically welcomed the
erection of a strong new bridge across the Derwent. "We are
glad to observe that the preliminary massive timber works now spans
the river at the junction of Matlock and Harvey Dales, and we expect
this useful bridge will soon be completed and opened to facilitate
the connection and communication of the many walks, roads, and
hamlets which lie on each side of the river".
Unfortunately, a timber bridge was not strong enough, no matter
how useful it had been deemed to be. In early 1881 heavy rain,
followed by the rapid thaw of quite a heavy snowfall caused the
Derwent to "rise to a great height"... "The
bridge connecting Matlock Dale with the town was swept away by
the unusual rush and volume of water".
A short while afterwards the Local Board voted for the bridge's
immediate replacement. "A new iron suspension bridge supported
by a stone pier on either bank, was erected in February, 1882. The
floor of the bridge was raised above the known flood level as to
render it safe from future inundations".
The stone piers were provided free of charge by the Askews and the
ironwork cost £240.
The iron bridge, about 1950