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Matlock: Hall Leys, about 1912
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General View, 1911-14

Tennis, Boating Lake & Paddling Pool, , late 1930s to 1950s

Matlock's Cable Tramway

In February 1898 Mr. Henry Knowles offered to transfer some of his land to the public for ever; it was known as the Hall Leys[1]. Henry Knowles died later that year and at an Urban District Council meeting in January 1899 it was confirmed that the Council had bought the land for a public promenade; on the motion of Mr. Job Smith it was resolved that it should be fenced[2]. It was the first step in the purchase of land and development of what is today known as the Hall Leys Park. In 1907 they negotiated to buy a further 7¾ acres of land next to the river promenade[3].

Here is an interesting picture of the Park, with the trees along the river walk on the right looking relatively newly planted. The landscaping in the rest of the park is also very new. The long and wide straight Promenade on the right of this photograph, called the Broad Walk, was the first part of the Park to be developed. It ran from Crown Square down the side of the Orme's building, which used to be next to the County Bridge but was demolished in 1926[4], along to Knowleston Place and joined the Pic Tor Walk. By the end of March 1904 "the Haw Lees" Promenade had "just been planted with sixty odd trees"[5] but in May the same year the number was revised to a hundred trees[6]. The substantial tree planting scheme along the Broad Walk laid the foundations of the modern park.

In 1910 the Urban District Council resolved to spend £1,000 on the development of the Hall Leys estate as a pleasure resort. They already had cash in hand from the rates. One councillor, a Mr Shenton, also felt the Pavilion buildings scheme was most essential[7]. The Pavilion can be seen on the left. Until the ceremony to lay the first sod of the bowling green in early 1912 there had been no celebration to open the park as sections of the grounds had been opened gradually when each stage was finished. The park as we see it here had been designed by the architect John Nuttall, a member of Matlock's Council, alongside Mr. Turner the surveyor. The work itself was undertaken by Mr. Henry Ballington, who was the Council's landscape gardener[8].

Tennis courts are marked out on the grass and a game appears to be in progress. It is hard to be completely sure but it looks as if the ladies on the left hand side of the picture are involved in a doubles game, albeit a fairly sedate one, with the male figures simply watching. Another person seems to be standing more or less at the net so may be acting as an amateur umpire.

If you look carefully you will notice that a fence made of fairly sturdy posts with what looks like wires or ropes connecting them separates the Broad Walk from the rest of the park. The wires or ropes were, in fact, old and unwanted tramway cables[9]. Using them for fencing was one the Council's solutions for disposing of them.

"Matlock: The Park", Celesque Series, published by the Photocrom Co., Ltd, London & Tunbridge Wells No. F_47145. Another card of this view was posted in 1918
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ray Ash.
Research provided by and © Ann Andrews. Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited, p.74. Also see About Matlock Bridge.

[2] "The Derby Mercury", 4 Jan 1899.

[3] Kelly's Derbyshire Directory, 1912

[4] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 22 May 1926. Comment that the shops had been removed and the view of the Hall Leys park was much improved.

[5] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 31 March 1904.

[6] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 19 May 1904.

[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 12 July 1910 reported the Council's agreement and shortly over a month later on 9 August 1910 the same newspaper recorded that the Council were spending the money they had allocated.

[8] "Derbyshire Times", 6 January 1912.

[9] Waite, Glynn (2012) "The Matlock Cable Tramway", Pynot Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9562706-5-8