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Matlock: Lumsdale Ponds
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Two business letterheads
for J. H. Scholes

One of the images is of The Mill Dam, Tansley


Masson Mill Weir
and Sluice


Masson Mill's Water Wheel

Tansley Mill, later Scholes' Mill, was built towards the end of the eighteenth century for Samuel Unwin (1744-99) of Sutton in Ashfield. Bulmer's Directory (1895) tells us that "a cotton mill was erected here at an early period"[1] but does not provide a date. Confirmation of this can be found in Pilkington (Vol. 2, 1789): "a cotton mill was a few years ago erected according to the model of that invented by Sir Richard Arkwright"[2].

Bulmer's adds that "The manufacture of tape is now carried on, on a most extensive scale, by Messrs. Lowe & Scholes, and the same firm has also a wide reputation for the manufacture of the choicest woollen shawls, which rival in beauty the far-famed productions of the East"[1].

During the nineteenth century the mill was run by Thomas Hackett (d.1879)[3], Robert Lowe[4] and then James Howard Scholes. Lowe and Scholes were in partnership for a time. Thomas Hackett employed 210 hands in 1861 though the number of employees were considerably less in 1881 when Mr. Lowe employed 77 hands. A decade later, in January 1891 and because of extreme weather, both he and Mrs. Scholes provided a free breakfast for eighty or ninety children every morning, including Sundays. This was to continue until the frosts stopped[5]. It was an act of both necessity and kindness for children who might otherwise have gone hungry. Things must have been desperate.

Early Ordnance Survey maps show two Tansley Mills. The mill in this photo was a cotton mill and its pond had two sluices. We can see one of them in the above image. A smaller Tansley Mill, a tape mill, was just up the valley; it has a smaller mill pond and later maps show it also had a sluice[5].

The mill closed after the death of Mr. Scholes in 1929[6]; on the day of his funeral the route to the church was lined with his employees.

Another view of the pond which provided the water for Scholes Mill,
taken between 1902 and 1907.
It is difficult to decide what the man standing in the pond is doing although he wasn't fishing.
Possibly punting?

Although we can see only part of the mill building in the top image, the structure is three storeys high and with 16 windows on each of the two upper floors. The former manager's house is attached to the building, on its right. It is mostly hidden by the large tree in the image above. When the estate was advertised for sale in 1929, the notice included the comment that the mills "gain their power from two gigantic water wheels, one of which is built in the mill; and the water is from four large dams"[7]. The pond is surrounded by trees today (2020) but the sluice that controlled the flow of water can still be seen in the undergrowth.

The building was requisitioned by the Army in the Second World War. Scholes Mill is now Grade II listed and within the Lumsdale Conservation area. Lumsdale is divided between two parishes, Matlock and Tansley. Of the two ponds shown here the top image is in Tansley whilst the scene below is close to the boundary.

middle pond 1
The Middle Pond, opposite Beech House on the Bentley Brook in the Lumsdale Valley.
Some contemporary images refer to it as the Mill Pond, Lumsdale.
Dating from the 1780s, it became silted up but, thanks to the Arkwright Society and Heritage
Lottery funding in 2014, it is once more recognisable as a pond[8].
Below is the same view, in colour. First published 1909.
mmiddle pond 2

To return to the ponds themselves, rather than as the source of water to generate power for the mills. Over the years people would travel here to fish and Lumsdale was described as "a valley thick with trees, through which hurries an impetuous trout stream"[9]. In 1894, for example, "several capital baskets have been made on the Lumsdale reservoirs"[10] and "on Easter Monday a number of Sheffield anglers visited the ponds at Lumsdale ... and a few fish of a goodly size were caught"[11].

An interesting case was heard in the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in London about fishing rights at the Lumsdale Ponds in 1903. A man named as Bernard Clarebrough, with either two three others, had been caught fishing for trout with a rod and line in one of the ponds on 9 June 1902; he did not hold a licence. They were caught by a water bailiff named as George Cook, a representative of the Trent Fisheries Board. Clarebrough contended that the ponds were artificial reservoirs so he did not require a licence. But the question for the Court to answer was whether or not the ponds were a natural course into the Derwent and the Trent and therefore were tributaries of the River Trent[12]. Local magistrates Tom Wright, Dr. Moxon and Job Smith[13 had previously decided that they were not, but the hearing in London reversed their decision. The ponds were deemed to be tributaries of a river within the meaning of the Salmon Fisheries Act[12] so the defendants were referred back to the magistrates for sentencing. Mr. Clarebrough was fined 2s with 8s 6d costs[13].

During and just after the First World War fishermen were still visiting the area. In 1915 we hear that "the trout contained in the upper reaches rarely attain specimen proportions, indeed a trout of 1lb. might reasonable classed a specimen"[14]. In May the following year "trouting in the ponds at Lumsdale opens on Monday, when, given favourable weather, visitors should be well repaid for the journey. The upper pond holds some monster trout, which might be successfully prosecuted by means of live minnows"[15]. Three years later three ponds in Lumsdale were being used and the upper one "has been productive of capital sport"[16]. In the 1930s "the Sheffield Trout Angler's Association had stretches of water at Lumsdale and the Piscatorials used "three ponds at Tansley near Matlock"[17].

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any references to angling clubs visiting any of the ponds that still had water in them after World War Two.

Lumsdale's Mills, Mill owners and Bleachers mentioned in early Matlock Trade Directories.
Boundary changes in 1865 meant that Lumsdale businesses advertised under Tansley from then on.

Glover's Directory, 1827-8-9 - Garton, Radford (Lumsdale), Cracoft (Tansley wood)
Pigot's Directory, 1828-9 - Bennett, Garton (bleachers), Hackett (tape manufacturer)
Pigot's Directory, 1831 } - Farnsworth, Garton (bleachers)
Pigot's Directory, 1842 }
Bagshaw's, 1846         }
Kelly's, 1848 - Garton. Farnsworth did not give his address.
White's, 1852 - Blackwell, Farnsworth, Garton
Kelly's, 1855 - Garton
White's, 1857 - Farnsworth, Garton, Radford
White's 1862 - Farnsworth, Garton, Radford

1. "Tansley Mill Dam". Published by Photochrom Co. Ltd., Graphic Works, Tunbridge Wells, No.59378. Exclusive Copyright Real Photo. Unused.
2. "The Ponds, Tansley, Matlock". Published by S. Hildesheimer & Co., Ltd. Manchester & London No.3038 Printed in Berlin. Unused. Stamp box Inland 1/2d. Foreign 1d.
3. "Lumsdale Pool, Matlock". One of Valentine's Picture Panels of Matlock & District. Twelve Real Photos, printed in Great Britain, No.61587 Real Photographs. This image first published in 1909.
4. "Lumsdale Pool, Matlock". Valentine's Series No.61587 Printed in Great Britain. Unused.
Postcards in the collection, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Bulmer's History and Directory of Derbyshire 1895. Although J. H. Scholes was living in Tansley, his business partner T. Lowe

[2] Pilkington, James (1789) "A View of the Present State of Derbyshire: With an Account of Its Antiquities, Volume 2".

[3] Matlock: Pigot's Directory, 1828-9 - Bennett, Garton (bleachers), Hackett (tape manufacturer). Thomas Hackett, his son and a brother were involved in bankruptcy proceedings in the late 1870s and early 1880s (London Gazette).

[4] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1891, Tansley. The partnership between Messrs. Lowe and Scholes was dissolved in 1894 (London Gazette) and Robert and Frances Lowe moved to Matlock Bath.

[5] "Derbyshire Times", 24 January 1891.

[5] Ordnance Survey map 1879 1:2,500. Only the lower of the two mills survives today.

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 6 Aug 1932. A report of the funeral of Miss Flora Beatrice Holrnes, who had worked for many years at Mr. Scholes' mill, recorded that the mill closed down after his death.

[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 28 November 1929. Tansley Mills. Estate offered for sale, but withdrawn.

[8] Leaflet published by the Arkwright Society, no date but latest version (2020).

[9] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 21 June 1894. Angling in Derbyshire.

[10] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 10 April 1896.

[11] "Lake's Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser", 15 May 1897.

[12] "Derbyshire Times", 1 April 1903. A Matlock Fishing Case. Magistrates' Decision Upset on Appeal. The Lumsdale Ponds. The defendant, Bernard Clarebrough, did not live locally.

[13] "Sheffield Evening Telegraph", 23 April 1903.

[14] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 11 June 1915. Lumsdale Ponds Yielding Well.

[15] "ibid.", 12 May 1916. With Road and Line. Leading specimen fish of the season. Here and there.

[16] "ibid.", Telegraph 13 June 1919.

[17] "Sheffield Independent", 10 March 1932.