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Matlock: Lilybank Hydro (Dalefield)
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Lilybank Hydro, on Chesterfield Road, Matlock was built by George Barnard Barton
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Matlock Bridge, early 1890s

Some other hydros:

Chatsworth Hydro

Rockside, from the South

Smedley's, early 1900s

Oldham House Hydro, Prospect Place & Woodlands School

Lilybank was described in glowing terms in 1932:
"A few minutes' walk from the Golf Links is the Lilybank Hydro, commanding fine views. Tennis, croquet and bowls may be enjoyed, and a series of amusements keep things going happily indoors. Hydropathic treatment on the latest principles is given by experienced attendants. There is ample motor garage for visitors[1]".

Originally called Dalefield[2], the establishment on Chesterfield Road was opened as a hydropathic establishment by George Bernard Barton. His father, George, had opened Jackson House about thirty years before and followed the likes of John Smedley, Charles Rowland and the Davis family into the business of hydropathy. There is a little confusion about the two Bartons in some of the trade directories and they are often linked under the title of "Mr. Barton".

The following quotation from Bulmer's Directory refers to George Bernard Barton: "Subsequently, he erected commodious and handsome premises called Dalefield Hydropathic Establishment, in which he introduced many improvements suggested by his experience, and furnished it in first-class style. The house stands within its own grounds, and commands delightful prospects along the valley of the Derwent. The dining-hall, drawing-rooms, &c., are all spacious, well ventilated, and handsomely furnished, and various indoor and outdoor amusements are provided. The heating arrangements are a special feature to ensure an equable temperature in winter and stormy weather. The establishment is not exclusively a sanatorium; it affords accommodation to families and others who desire to spend a holiday amidst the beautiful scenery of the English Switzerland and it is also a delightful winter resort for those delicate individuals who dread the severities of our English climate[3]".

Lilybank, winter or early spring, probably taken a few years before the top image.

When Dalefield was advertised for sale by Hampton & Sons of London in the autumn of 1913 it was described as occupying one of the most important positions in the town. It had 40 bedrooms, ample servants' accommodation, a range of fitted baths, a suite of reception rooms and a billiard room as well as stabling and gardens. The property also had central heating[4]. This was before the neighbouring property, The Gables, became part of the establishment and the total number of rooms increased. This postcard shows both the original Dalefield / Lilybank building, which has the sign "Lilybank" on top of it, and what was "The Gables" on the right; the house was a separate building but when it was bought by Lilybank it was linked to the larger hydro building by the almost round stone extension which housed the ballroom.

Dalefield was renamed Lilybank[5] and continued as a hydro for almost fifty years more. The Liquidator was finally appointed by members of Lilybank Hydro Limited on 4th January 1963[6] and the building was bought by the Presentation Convent to be used as a preparatory school[7]. It is now a nursing home.

Dalefield, The Gables and the Congregational Church, 1893-1899.
Detail from an albumen print.
Barton's sign is just about discernible on Dalefield's roof.

But who were the Barton family?

George Barton (senior) was baptised on 12 Sep 1819[8] and the son of Bernard and Hannah Barton of Riber; his father was a shoemaker and the couple had seven children[9]. George began his working life as a lead miner[10] and married Martha Ballington at St. Giles' on 8 April 1844[11]. By 1861 he was working as a hydropathist and the couple were living with their children on Matlock Bank[12]. George died on 22 March 1875, aged 55, and Martha died in 1884[13].

Their son, George Bernard Barton (also known as George Barnard Barton), began as a hydropathist at Jackson House and after his father's death he ran the business with his mother for some years. In 1887 he became joint proprietor of the Turkish Baths in Friar Gate, Derby, with his wife Deborah helping on Mondays when the baths were reserved for female use[14]. He then built Dalefield, which this writer assumes he bought from Mr. Thomas Stevens[15]. George Bernard had been christened at St. Giles' on 4 July 1847[16]; he married Deborah Swift at the same church on 6 Feb 1871. The couple are recorded in the census returns for 1871, 1881 and 1891[17] though Deborah passed away in 1897, aged 49. In 1901 George Barnard and his son were together[17] but George Bernard died on 31 December, 1908[13]. Both he and Deborah are buried at St. Giles' in the family vault, alongside some of their children who died very young.

George Thomas Barton (born 1878), or Tom, the son of George Bernard and Deborah, enlisted in the Derbyshire Yeomanry and took part in the Boer War. He wasn't the only one from Matlock to go to South Africa as he mentioned W. S. Hand and E. Hodgkinson in a letter home and an F. White was also there. Tom was wounded and arrived home in June 1900[18]. He took over Dalefield and was listed in trades directories as the proprietor up until 1912, advertising his hydro as having "splendid accommodation, liberal diet, beautiful situation"[19]. He had married Hannah McMunn at All Saints' in 1901. Tom rejoined the Yeomanry in the First World War, was gazetted in 1917 having served in Egypt and Salonika, and became Second Lieutenant[20]. He died in Matlock in 1950 and Hannah died at Whitworth Hospital in 1962; the couple are buried in Tansley Cemetery. Some of their Barton descendants now live in New Zealand.

See the on site trade directory transcripts that mention Dalefield / Lilybank:
19th Century Trades Directories
20th Century Trades Directories

There is more about Dalefield / Lilybank / The Gables

Barton's Dalefield Hydro 1904

Sun lounge 1930s


1950s multi view, with advertisement

1930s, with advertisement

Letterheads of Local Businesses, 1900-1949 (3) - Lilybank

Dinner menus
from the late 1950's

Mrs. Marian Wildgoose, who owned "The Gables"

Sally Mosley's article about the school (Newspapers section)

1. "The Lilybank Hydro, Matlock - Tel Matlock 81". Published by Photochrom Co. Ltd., Royal Tunbridge Wells. All British Production. Not posted, though another card was posted in 1924. Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
2. "The Lilybank Hydro, Matlock. Tel.81". Published by Lilywhite Ltd., Sowerby Bridge. Real photo. Unused. In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
3. Dalefield, The Gables and the Congregational Church, from an albumen print "Matlock Bank and Matlock Bridge", No.3903 by G.W.W. © Susan Tomlinson collection.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured hyperlinks are to transcripts elsewhere on this website):

[1] Ward Lock & Co's "Matlock, Dovedale, Bakewell and South Derbyshire", Illustrated Guide Books of England and Wales (1932-3), p.51

[2] i. The land on which the Hydro was built was included in the Tithe Award as Dalefield.
ii. Cameron, K (1959) "The Place Names of Derbyshire, Part II", p.392 gives it as Dale Field and says it was known as Dale Acre at the time of James I.

[3] "History, Topography and Directory of Derbyshire" (1895) by T. Bulmer and Co., p.417, Matlock (transcript contributed to this website by Sonia Addis-Smith).

[4] Two sale notices were placed in "The Times" by Hamptons in September 1913.

[5] Though an exact year cannot be provided, it probably became Lilybank in 1915 when it re-opened after refurbishment. This pre-dates the information given in Derek Crust's article for "Derbyshire Life & Countryside" of January 1976 ("Nagle Preparatory School, Matlock", pp.25-8). Other sources state that the hydro was renamed around 1906 but this is incorrect. It was still Dalefield at the time of the 1911 census, and also when advertised for sale in 1913 (see [4] above).

[6] London Gazette, 15 January 1963.

[7] See Schools, The Presentation Convent.

[8] See christening of George Barton. Martha Ballington christened 4 Oct 1829, but born in 1824

[9] Will of Barnard Barton of Riber - Pre-1858 Wills & Administrations, Surnames B

[10] 1851 Census, family living at Starkholmes.

[11] Parish register.

[12] See both 1861 Census and the first listing of Jackson House in Kelly's Directory, 1864 (under Matlock Bank).

[13] See Wills (B) | Memorials (surname listed) | London Gazette (1875 - George). George B was given as George Barnard Barton at death and in his will.

[14] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, 11 May, 1887. George Bernard Barton went into partnership with Councillor Holbrook of Derby. As well as preserving the Turkish Baths already offered, they introduced the hot and cold sitz bath along with other hydropathy treatments.

[15] Thomas Stevens was living at Dalefield in Kelly's Directory, 1876 and sold the property in 1882.

[16] George Bernard Barton's baptism at St. Giles' (as George).

[17] See the census returns for: 1871 | 1881 | 1891 | 1901

[18] A letter home, describing the conditions he encountered, was published in "The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent", Monday, 16 April, 1900. The "Derbyshire Times", 23 June 1900 reported that at one time he was in rather dangerous condition. The "Derbyshire Times", 26 May 1900 published a letter from F. White to Mr. Phillips of Crown Square.

[19] "Leeds Mercury", 20 April 1912.

[20] "Derbyshire Times", 8 December 1917.