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Matlock: Dale Road, Railway Bridge, South Side, 1906
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Boating on the River, 1930s

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This dramatic view of the gritstone bridge was taken by the card's sender, Lucy, and turned into a postcard. Her message states that this was one of the views she took whilst staying at Lea. She added that she was proud of her cards, and went on to describe the bridge as the railway bridge between Matlock Bath station and Matlock Bridge station. Although the card was sent at the beginning of winter it shows a summer scene, with the two arches and the buildings beyond reflected in the seemingly still river.

There were two nineteenth century tragedies involving the bridge. In 1854 a Matlock shoemaker, Mr. Barnard Holmes, was passing the bridge when he noticed what he at first supposed to be a bundle of clothes lying under an arch, but on closer inspection discovered the body of a newly born baby girl. Mr. Chinery, the local surgeon who lived in the Dale, examined the body and concluded the infant had never breathed. There was no evidence to say who the child was and, although an inquest jury concluded that the child had been thrown from the bridge, the eventual verdict was just "Found Dead"[1].

The second incident occurred one fine summer's Saturday evening in 1888. A young Matlock couple, Annie Elizabeth Knowles and William Smith, had hired a small skiff from Mr. Brown's, whose temperance hotel was close to the bridge. Annie Elizabeth Knowles was rowing and seems to have taken the boat under the arch furthest from the road, where there was reputed to be a strong current but where the water was only four feet deep. William Smith was steering and witnesses said that he was leaning over the boat when it capsized. There were others on the river at the time, but one group of six men didn't realise what had happened until it was too late. There were also witnesses on the road. A Coroner's inquest was held in the larger room connected with the Boat House and, as one juror, succinctly put it, "I never heard of such a case where so many people were on the spot and all useless"[2].


No title. Privately published? See text above. Message written 4 Nov 1906.
Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Susan Tomlinson
Researched by and © Ann Andrews Intended for personal use only

References (coloured links go to on site transcripts):

[1] "Derby Mercury", 15 February 1854. Barnard [Barnet] Holmes was living on Holt Lane at the time of the 1851 census. William Chinery was living in the Dale in 1851.

[2] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 30 June 1888. "Shocking Boating Fatality at Matlock. A young man and woman drowned". Annie Elizabeth, the daughter of William Knowles, was a pupil teacher at Tansley School and aged 18. Annie Elizabeth can be found with her family in the 1881 census transcripts. William Smith was the son of Joseph of Matlock Bank and employed by the Matlock Bridge Local Board; he had turned 19 on 4 May. He is also listed in in the 1881 census transcripts.