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Matlock Bath: Derwent Gardens, before 1909
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The Riverbank,
about 1880



Lovers' Walks and the Band Stand



The images here show the Derwent Gardens not long after the grounds were laid out, turning Orchard Holme into somewhere visitors could either sit on the seats provided or just walk around the paths near the river. They were landscaped in readiness for the 1898 season. "What was formerly a dreary waste and eyesore at the Bath is at the present time one or the prettiest spots in Matlock Bath. I refer the vicinity of the switchback railway. Mr. H. Buxton has transformed the Orchard Holme into a veritable garden of beauty, and the contrast of Mr Hyde and Mr. Jekyll could not be more marked. There is promise of greater beauty in the future"[1].

Lieut.-Colonel Newnham-Davis described the switchback and its gardens in an article published in the Pall Mall Gazette of 1906. "It [Matlock Bath] advertises the fact that a switchback ride is the one amusement really conducive to health, and thus almost constitutes itself part of a 'cure'. It stands in a very pretty garden by the Derwent, and the lawns and rose beds which surround it, and the fish pool, where the golden carp swim lazily, almost redeem it"[2].

The switchback railway was to the left of the path and the view is towards the Heights of Abraham. This land was privately owned. So when the local Council were unable to give permission for Sunday concerts on the Lovers' Walks Mr. Herbert Buxton, who owned the Derwent Pleasure Grounds, came to the rescue to provide music for the visitors' entertainment as his land was not subject to the same restrictions. On Sunday 29 July 1906 he allowed concerts to be played in his grounds[3]. The two venues were still competing two years later. The Whitsuntide Bank Holiday in 1908 saw a large number of excursionists visiting Matlock Bath. There were band concerts of the promenade, plus boating and pierrot troupes providing the entertainment at the northern end of the village. The Derwent Gardens provided their own pierrot show[4].

Following the purchase by Matlock Bath Urban District Council of a plot adjacent to the Derwent Gardens in readiness for the erection of the Kursaal, which was known as the Ferry Pleasure Ground, Herbert Buxton made a claim against them in September 1908 regarding the value of a right of way. After consultation, agreement was reached with Mr. Buxton being granted a new right of way in a different place, the gift of a boat shed and £125 in damages as well as the arbitration fees[5].

By 1910 bowling had become popular and a club was formed in Matlock Bath with Bill Boden as its secretary. The green at the Derwent Gardens was used for the sport and was to be properly laid out for the following season[6]. The year 1911 was to include a day of national celebration and Mr. Boden wrote to the Council in his official capacity stating that Mr Buxton would throw open the Derwent Gardens on Coronation Day and the Club would lend the bowls. It also reported that the Venetian Fete Committee promised to assist5].



Art Nouveau embossed postcard of the gardens. The central image is enlarged below.


Looking towards the entrance near the river. Behind the urns is the old boat house, beyond
which is the Ferry House and its outdoor eating area. The cafe within the gardens was open
for business but the canopy across the front had not yet been erected.
The orange patches in the background are the rooves of the houses on the Heights of Abraham.



Sheffield Independent, 8 September 1915

MATLOCK BATH. - The Edinburgh and Derwent Gardens Cafe, ideal for pleasure parties; any number catered for; Apartments. - J. W. Boden, Prop




There is more information about either the Derwent Gardens and/or the Buxton family via the links below


1. "On the Derwent, Matlock Bath". Published by E.L.S. No.190-24. Unused. In the stamp box is a horse shoe with the initials T.I.C. Edgar Leonard Scrivens (13 Mar 1882-22 Feb 1950) had a Photographic Printing & Enlarging Works in Doncaster.
2 and 3. "Promenade, Matlock Bath" by Raphael Tuck & Sons. Art Publishers to their Majesties the King and Queen. No. 2250 Matlock Bath & Matlock Bridge. O'er Hill and Dale Postcard. Not posted. Photo Holland in stamp box.
Images © Ann Andrews collection.
Information 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] "Derbyshire Times", 23 April 1898. Gleanings in the Peak. It has been suggested elsewhere that the main landscaping of Orchard Holme (the Derwent Gardens) was undertaken at the same time as the Kursaal (Grand Pavilion) was built, so circa 1910-11. It was the area around Orchard Holme that was landscaped.

[2] "Pall Mall Gazette", 18 July 1906. In Our Own Land". - Matlock Bath.

[3] "Derbyshire Times", Saturday 4 August 1906. The local band was not allowed to use the band kiosk on the Lovers' Walks on Sundays at this time as playing music was disapproved of in some quarters. See Lovers' Walks and the Band Stand

[4] "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser" 9 June 1908.

[5] "Derbyshire Courier", 3 October 1908.

[6] "Belper News", 9 September 1910.

[7] "Derbyshire Times", 6 May 1911.