The top photograph of Dale Road, featuring the Old English Hotel,
is fascinating. It could almost be called "The Story of
the Ladder". The picture was taken somewhere between
1902 and 1906 when another version of this card was posted.
At first glance the cart, in which a young man is sitting looking
at the photographer, could be a window cleaner's cart. There's
man at the top of the very long ladder who seems to be busy cleaning
the windows of the Old English Hotel. He isn't. He has no bucket
and seems to have no tools. His left hand is pointing to the bottom
of the window frame and he's holding on with his right hand. The
window is slightly open, opening in the middle into two halves.
The workman is believed to have been a local Councillor named Harrison
who worked for Hall & Co. and who was looking at the window
frames prior to painting them. Hall and Co.'s "Plumbing Dept" was
just off-photo on the left, next door to the Old English and its
Vaults - in the second image the sign is just above the heads of
the two young men who are standing in the shop doorway.
To the left of the street lamp (top image only), but next to the
buildings, is a large lamp with a white globe on which are the
OFFICE". Robert Hall, accountant and local entrepreneur,
was a shareholder and secretary for Matlock Gas Co. which probably
explains why it was there. Hall seems to have been a successor
to Job Smith and very involved in Matlock affairs.
The extremely long ladder, which was owned by the Old English,
had virtually no rungs, or very few. There are actually two ladders,
with a smaller one at the bottom to extend the height should it
be necessary. The longer of the two ladders is not touching the
ground. On this occasion it seems the second ladder was also acting
to counterbalance the weight and add stability as painters always
had someone standing on the bottom rungs (or they did later on).
Whilst it is difficult to tell, the side of the ladder next to
the workman's body seems to be fractionally longer and could just
be resting on the bottom part of the window. It is impossible to
know, even by blowing up the image as has been done to provide
this description. The top left of the ladder is hardly resting
on anything, just the moulding on the building.
Arthur Wall, a keen cyclist, was the licensee
of the Old English from the early 1890s until 1908,
and was in residence when the pictures for the two postcards shown
here were taken. His name is on the hotel sign, which is above
the small garden that is surrounded by railings. On the day he
was buried many businesses suspended trading for a couple of hours
and there were crowds outside both the Old English Hotel and the
He was succeeded by Victor Nicol, who married Arthur Wall's widow,
and Francis Smith took over from him.
My (web mistress) great grandfather, William Clay, was at the Old
English during the First World War.
Arthur Wall's name is on the Old English Hotel sign. It is at
the right hand end.
Note that the two horse drawn vehicles were almost side-by-side
and travelling in the
A sign hanging above the large entrance to the Old English
building reads "Oriental Cafe". This was established
in Matlock by 1902 and
Frederick Dalton was the proprietor of both the cafe and a temperance
hotel in the premises.
In 1911 Mrs. Mary A Pickett was living there and employed as
the manageress; the cafe occupied twelve rooms in the building.
The Old English Hotel had seventeen rooms at that time.
In 1914 there was a pre-sale announcement about both businesses:
"Shortly. Matlock. The old-established Hotel known as "Ye
Olde English" and Oriental Cafe adjoining ; also 10 valuable
It is not known if the sale ever took place.
Hunter's Grocery Shop is on the opposite corner
and next door is the shop unit occupied for some years by Basque,
the tailor. Whether Mr. Basque was still in business is not known
as he last advertised in 1908.
However, the sign on the window is the same as one in another photo
on this site. It
is not possible to read which solicitor was using the offices in
Hunters Buildings although in 1916 it was Frederick William Gill.
The shop next door to Basques, DYERS, is a puzzle. In 1908 an
Albert Edward Dyer was assistant sup. Prudential Assurance Co.
Limited and living on New Street so this could be his shop or a
that of a relative. Unfortunately, there isn't enough evidence
to help. There's a sign on the window, but it is mostly obscured
by the carriage. There's no sign for the next premises. Then there's
Evans', the jewellers.
On the right hand side is a row of single storey shops, "Coronation
Buildings", which were presumably named to commemorate the
Coronation of Edward VII. Although unreadable on the top picture,
it can be read on the sign over the butchers in the second image.
The butcher's shop was the London Central Meat Co. Limited (LCM).
Whilst there is no sign with their name on it, the chemist's selling
Kodak film was Pilkington's. The sign, jutting out on the left
of the chemist's, advertises table waters is possibly reads G.
WRIGHT, TABLE WATERS and below the main window is a sign advertising
a "DARK ROOM". Next door, the shop that is shut up (top
image only), is Bradley's Clothiers and then the International
Tea Co.'s Stores Limited.
To return to the top picture, someone was even digging up the
road opposite Hunter's Corner. But it was the ladder that everyone
was looking at with such great interest, apart from the workman's "mate".
1990s photograph of the Old English, showing this striking building
before it was extended at the rear.
The first hotel on the site had been four storey's high but when
it was rebuilt/repaired following the 1884 fire
the height was reduced.