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Matlock Bath: Fluor Spar Cavern, Heights of Jacob
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Upper Wood, about 1890

Upper Wood

Zoo Tea Gardens,
Upper Wood

Matlock Bath from the Heights of Jacob, 1908

Past Matlock & Matlock Bath photographers

Two early twentieth century cards of the cavern on the Heights of Jacob, one of the exterior and the other of the cavern itself. In 1903 Benjamin Bryan wrote:

"There are other caverns now exhibited which have opened out much more recently. One of these is situate by the side of the road from Matlock Bath Station to Upper Wood, on a site known as the "Heights of Jacob". From hence a wide spreading prospect is available over the Pavilion grounds, which are immediately below the spectator's feet, and extending to the rocks beyond the river and northwards to the High Tor, with a large part of the Bath visible as it lies in the hollow below. The features of the cavern include spacious cavities or openings, grottoes, spar archways, a "rising gallery", and veins of lead ore and barytes. Mr. Jacob Raynes is the lessee"[1].

Some of the familiar views of Matlock Bath featured on postcards over the years were taken from the vantage point of the Heights of Jacob. The name, Heights of Jacob, didn't appear on maps until around 1900 when Jacob Raynes had been the cavern proprietor in Matlock Bath for just over thirty years[2], but the Heights of Jacob were undoubtedly named after him. It cannot be co-incidental. Although he didn't advertise until 1895, Mr. Raynes had been in Matlock Bath since before 1871[3] and the cavern was described in 1866 when Mr. Pearson was there[4]. The Heights of Jacob, as opposed to the cavern, were mentioned in newspaper reports in the mid 1880s when several large groups visited Matlock Bath[5].

Jacob Raynes died at the end of 1904 and was followed by George Adam Craig[6].

These photos date from the time Thomas Meredith Henshall, who also a photographer[7], was running the cavern. The top image was published in the "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal" on 2 January 1914. The signboard propped against the stone advertises the "FLUOR SPAR CAVERN, HEIGHTS OF JACOB", and lower down it mentions the Fluor Spar Grotto. Behind where the lady is seated is a box with nine holes in it. Any ideas about what the box was used for would be gratefully received - please email the web mistress. Thoughts have included a box that people stuck their heads through for a novelty photograph, but the holes don't look big enough.

Below is the interior, lit by candles. The fluor spar and lead ore would have glittered in the candle light. The man on the right could be Mr. Henshall.

Inside the Fluor Spar Cavern

When "Jacob's Cavern" was offered for sale by Bagshaw's of Ashbourne and Derby in 1923, it was described as a show place for trippers" and somewhere that "the owner would simply have to sit listening to the clicking of the turnstile to gain a good living". At the time Thomas Henshall was paying a rent of £6 and the Royal Hotel also paid a guinea a year for the privilege of using a road over it. Despite £180 being offered, the property was not sold[8].

Photograph and postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Images scanned for this website and information researched 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 . Bryan was comparing the "more recent" caverns with those on the Heights of Abraham and the Cumberland Cavern, all of which had been open to the public for many years.

[2] Ordnance Survey Map (1903), pub H.M.S.O.

[3] See "Holmes Handbook, 1866", description of the Grand Fluor Spar Cavern

[4] Jacob Raynes or Raines was listed as a cavern proprietor in Upper Wood in the following : the 1871 census | the 1881 census | 1891 census | 1901 | Kelly's Directory 1895 | Kelly's Directory 1899.

[5] Reports in "The Derby Mercury".

[6] He advertised in Kelly's Directory, 1908 and 1912.

[7] Thomas Meredith Henshall advertised in Kelly's 1916 Directory and from 1922 onwards. Mr. Henshall was born in Bulkeley, Cheshire and in 1901 he was living in Salford and working as a photographer.

[8] "Derbyshire Times", 2 June 1923. Sale of local estate of Alderman H. A. Hubbersty of Burbage Hall, Buxton.