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Matlock: Bank House & Church View Hydro, New Street
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Matlock Bridge, early 1890s


In the Vernon Lamb Archive


Bank House, 1910-12



Henry Ward and his first wife Hannah owned Bank House for many years, opening their hydro on New Street some time before 1871[1]. They subsequently took over the adjacent Church View at the end of 1874[2], a hydropathic establishment set up by the former Smedley bathman William Mycock in 1871[3].

Henry, one of the sons of Henry Ward and his wife Martha, had been born in Manchester and christened at the Cathedral there in 1829[4]. By 1851 Henry and his brother John were working as Stone Cutters at Padfield. The brothers married at St. Helen's, Darley Dale, on the same day in 1852; Henry's wife was Hannah Cowlishaw (Cowlisher in the church register)[5]. In the 1861 census the couple were visiting John and his family, who had settled in Holloway[6]. Interestingly, in this census Henry's occupation was recorded as "Attends a Hydropathic Establishment" whilst John, then 34, was shown as "Superintends a Spinning Room"[6]. It would seem that the brothers were working for John Smedley and later advertisements for Bank House indicate that Henry Ward had worked for John Smedley for sixteen years before going it alone[7]; the number of years he worked for Smedley was eventually lowered to ten years in advertisements published in the first decade of the twentieth century[7]. The 1870s saw both brothers running hydropathic establishments in Matlock[6].

The Henry Wards held an annual "Aged Pilgrims" Festival at their hydro for a number of years and in 1880 they entertained a large number of the aged men and women of Matlock in a tent erected on their lawn. "Several ladies and gentlemen were present on the occasion, and the Matlock band rendered very efficient services. ... Games and dancing were kept up until dusk when a display of fireworks concluded the proceedings"[8]. The aged men and women seem to have been chosen by the hydro's guests.

In 1897 Henry Ward was providing massage and electric baths as treatments for his guests, alongside billiards, lawn tennis and fishing as sporting activities, with his terms ranging from 30s. to 40s. per week[7]. In early January 1900 it was reported that during the previous three months there had been a number of visitors to Bank House and Church View, "but the majority them have been enabled to return to their respective homes", as they had from treatment provided by Mr Ward and his assistants[9].



Bank House and Church View, 1893-1899.
Detail from an albumen print.
Note that the wing to the right of the main house was built, but was not yet developed
(shown in the postcard above).
It is probable that the building was the bath block, though could have been stables.


Hannah Ward died towards the end on 1901[10] and the following year Henry married for the second time. His new wife, whom he married by special license at Bakewell, was Miss Mary Woodfall Billinge, daughter of Mr John Billinge, a wholesale fruiterer of Liverpool. The new Mrs. Ward was said to have visited Matlock many times before her marriage. At that time Henry Ward was one of the oldest members of Matlock District Council and chairman of the Highways Committee[11]; he was also one of Matlock's representatives on the Bakewell Board Guardians for twenty five years[12]. He "owned considerable cottage property ... [and was] one of the most prosperous business men in Matlock"[12]. The couple's son, named after his father, was born in 1905[13].

They continued to run the business for a further ten years but in 1913 the house was closed during the summer for its drainage system to be reconstructed and the interior was also renovated. Sadly, it did not re-open with either Henry Ward or his wife in charge as in October that year Henry reportedly entered Bakewell Workhouse[12]. The sale notice for Bank House and Church View said that he had been obliged to retire because of failing health, and his establishment was available either to buy or be taken on a long lease. "The house contains large entertainment rooms, billiard room with a good table, smoke room, ladies' and gentlemen's bathrooms fitted up for hydropathic treatment and 25 bedrooms". Mr. John Toplis, of Clifton villa close by, would show prospective purchasers or lessors over the house[14]. Henry Ward died at The Infirmary, Smithdown Road, Liverpool on 23 September 1914, aged 84. He was survived by his widow[15].

Initially Joseph J. Hales took over the hydro, changing the name to Wyvern House and advertising the "Bijou Hydro" as a wedding venue[16]. In 1915 Joseph Burley, a voice specialist, was there[17] but in 1918 it was announced that "the company known as Wyvern House was to be struck off"[18]. The "substantial stone built properties Bank House and Church View respectively, now known as Wyvern House", were advertised as being for sale by Hodgkinsons in 1920[19]. The flour miller Ernest Henry Bailey of The Butts bought the property in 1923 and offered it to the County Education Committee for conversion to the secondary school which was to bear his name[20]. Alterations were undertaken in 1923 and early 1924. The school's first headmaster, Mr Ernest H. Chapman, was appointed in June 1924[21] and Matlock's new school was opened by the Duke of Devonshire in the September of that year[22].

Bailey's school outgrew the New Street site and eventually moved to Chesterfield Road and became Highfields (see Schools in earlier times). The building, now known as the Ernest Bailey Building, remains in the ownership of Derbyshire County Council and has been its County Record Office for a long time.


The building in 2008. The box bay windows are still a distinctive feature.
The gardens and croquet lawn, shown in the top image, have been covered in tarmac for many years.
The hydro's main doorway led directly off New Street. A sign above the entrance, which reads "Bank House", can also be seen in the top image. There was no entrance in the south front for many years but at some stage a second entrance - somewhat out of keeping with the building - has been inserted into the window at the top of the ramp/raised walkway. Neither feature seem to have been part of the building when it was a grammar school so was probably added when part of the building became the Record Office. The RO now uses the whole building.


1. "Bank House, Matlock". No publisher. Posted 24 Sep 1906 [another posted 1904] at Matlock Bridge. The card was written at Bank House. Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
2. Bank House and Church View, from an albumen print "Matlock Bank and Matlock Bridge", No.3903 by G.W.W. © Susan Tomlinson collection.
3. 2008 photograph of Bank House © Paul Kettle.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] Henry and Sarah Ward were living on New Street in the 1871 census | the 1881 census | the 1891 census | the 1901 census. Trade directory entries include Kelly's 1876 Directory ( Henry's brother John was also listed in this Directory) | Kelly's 1891 Directory | Kelly's 1895 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory | Kelly's 1908 Directory | Kelly's 1912 Directory.
[2] "Derbyshire Times", 17 October 1874. Church View to be sold by Else and Newbold.
[3] In 1871 the bathman William Mycock was living at Pope Car [Church View Hydro] - see his 1871 census entry. An advertisement he placed in the "Derbyshire Times" on 10 June 1871 (one of several) said he had worked as a Bathman at John Smedley's Establishment for ten years.
[4] Family Search shows he was christened at Manchester Cathedral on 16 Oct 1829. The marriage records of John and Henry Ward give their father's name as Henry.
[5] Marriages from Darley Dale Parish Register. John Ward married Ann Crowder at St. Helen's, Darley on 30 Jun 1852, the same day as his brother Henry married Hannah Cowlisher/Cowlishaw. Both gave their occupation as stone cutters.
[6] 1861 census. The ages of John and Ann Ward's children show the family had all been in Holloway for some years. John's wife Ann came be found in 1861 and 1871 in Matlock Strays, Surnames W. Her husband died in Matlock, aged 50, in 1877; he had opened his own hydro on the Bank - see Kelly's 1876 Directory. Ann Ward was running the hydro at the time of the 1881 census. Later the same year a grocers partnership between Henry Ward and his nephew John was dissolved. See Matlock & Matlock Bath Names in the London Gazette, 1881.
[7] "Sheffield Independent", 6 May 1897 was one of several newspaper advertisements that said Ward had worked for Smedley for 16 years. It was after he re-married that it was said he was with Smedley for 10 years.
[8] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 19 August 1880.
[9] "Derbyshire Times", 3 January 1900.
[10] BMD records show she died, aged 70.
[11] "Derbyshire Times", 25 October 1902. Henry Ward was described as "the veteran proprietor of Bank House and Church View Hydros" and the paper congratulated him on his marriage.
[12] "Lincolnshire Echo", 6 October 1913.
[13] The young boy was with his parents at Bank House Hydro in the 1911 census.
[14] "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", 4 November 1913.
[15] English and Welsh Probate calendars.
[16] "Nottingham Evening Post", 16 June 1914, was one of several papers announcing the hydro was a wedding venue and not long afterwards the "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", 22 August 1914 advertised the "Bijou Hydro".
[17] "Sheffield Independent", 20 September 1915. Mr. Burley advertised, but as Bank House, in Kelly's 1916 Directory.
[18] "Derbyshire Courier", 7 September 1918 was quoting from an announcement in the" London Gazette".
[19] "Derbyshire Times", 27 November 1920. Hodgkinson's sale notice.
[20] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 4 May 1923. "The Donor of this School (i.e. Ernest H Bailey) invites tenders for the alterations and improvements to Wyvern Hydro upon its conversion to a Secondary School".
[21] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 25 June 1924. The paper said he had "won one of the minor scholarships in the county, and now became head teacher".
[22] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 17 September 1924.