In the first decade of the twentieth century
a disagreement arose about a piece of land owned by Mr.
Herbert Buxton of Matlock Bath; the plot, which was next
to his Switchback Railway in the Derwent Gardens, can
be seen in the above photograph.
At first glance there appears to be nothing of interest,
apart from an outdoor stage on a rough piece of ground and
an unknown man who is bending forward. But it was this man,
who was wearing a tin hat incidentally, and what he was doing
that caused the row. This was the Providence Mine and the
unknown man was supposedly mining for lead, or at least conducting
a survey to see if lead was present in the tufa bed. The
nearby buildings are also important in the story of this
photograph. The buildings behind the dry stone wall were
the old stables; these were due to be demolished to make
way for a new development as there were grand plans to build
a Kursaal (meeting place) or Pavilion instead. The Kursaal
plans included land known as the "Mud Heap", which
seem to have been the Ferry Grounds.
The quarrel started
as a personal dispute between two local councillors, the
Conservative Herbert Buxton and Charlie
White, the Liberal chairman of the Urban District Council. "It
led to the UDC applying for an Act of Parliament to alter
the terms of the 1852 Act so that land used for recreational
purposes could be added to the list of places where there
was exemption from a miner's right to mine. It was amended
again in 1927 and has been re-enacted in 1981".
The 1852 Act referred to began as the Wirksworth Mining Customs
and Mineral Courts Bill of 1851 and
the mining laws were codified.
After all the money wasting squabbles the amendment to the
1852 Act became law,
so those in favour of development got their way, and the
Kursaal was constructed. It was an extremely ambitious project
for the Urban District Council to undertake. The Kursaal
was to be renamed within a few years and is these days known
as the Grand Pavilion. But the completion of the Pavilion
wasn't quite the end of the story and the Providence Mine
caused two further problems.
24 October 1913
An Alarming Accident at Matlock Bath.
An alarming subsidence occurred near the Matlock Bath
Kursaal to-day. A Midland Railway dray had just passed
on the Derby Road by the entrance to the Derwent Gardens,
when the roadway fell in. The subsidence resulted from
the old Providence lead mine, which the Council at
great cost by Act of Parliament closed forever.
This land was used for rubbish for a time and was eventually
covered by hard tennis courts in the inter-war years, though
is now used for basketball. It wasn't properly capped when
it was covered over, resulting in a tragic accident in
1929 when a local man who was employed by the Urban Council
as the caretaker of the Grand Pavilion, Edward Slater,
pulled a roller across the court. The event was witnessed
by Laurence Yates, a bus driver, who saw Mr. Slater suddenly
disappear as he was driving past; he found "Ninety" Slater,
as he was known, at the bottom of a hole with severe injuries.
The Council's Surveyor, Edward Flint, believed the collapse
had been caused by water seeping into the old lead mine working
and stated at the inquest that it was common knowledge that
the working still existed.
Willies wrote a detailed account of the dispute between Messrs.
Buxton and White for the Peak
District Mines Historical Society.
10-3 - Providence Mine, the Kursaal and the 1981 Derbyshire Act
To view the PDF file, you may need to download the free
Adobe Acrobat Reader
links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on
this web site):
 This almost panoramic photograph
is owned by Mrs. Doreen Buxton, who has most kindly allowed
the web mistress to use it on this site.
 Also see: Royal
Hotel, Pavilion and Holy Trinity Church
 Lynn Willies refers to the Mud
Heap in her article for the Peak
District Mines Historical Society (see link above). The article
notes that this photo was included in electioneering literature
of candidates Buckman, Dickenson, Reeds and Wheatcroft (no
date but presumably 1908?).
from Doreen Buxton.
 "London Gazette",
18 Nov 1851. "... to define and amend the mineral customs
of the Soke and Wapentake of Wirksworth, in the county of
Derby, and of a certain part or district therein, known as
the King's Field, part of the possessions of Her Majesty's
duchy of Lancaster, and of the several manors ... in the
said county of Derby, and to make provision for the better
administration of justice in the Barmote Courts, in the said
Soke and Wapentake, and King's Field, and manors or lordships
respectively, and to improve the practice and proceedings
of the said courts...". The Wirksworth Mining Customs
and Mineral Courts Bill of 1851 became an Act of Parliament
Also see: Lead Mining in Matlock and Matlock
 "London Gazette",
23 November 1909
MATLOCK BATH AND SCARTHIN NICK URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL.
"(Repeal of Provisions of Matlock Bath Gas Act, 1896, and Matlock
Bath Improvement Act, 1905, as to the Removal of Gas Works
; Maintenance and Improvement of same on Present Site ; Additional
Powers relating to Gas Supply; Abolition or Prohibition of
Exercise of Local Mineral Rights and Customs ; Agreements with
and Powers to the Duchy of Lancaster and others as to such
Abolition or Prohibition ; Application of Funds; Borrowing
of Money ; General Provisions ; Incorporation, Amendment and
Repeal of Acts, &c.)
5. To repeal, alter or amend the Derbyshire Mining Customs
and Mineral Courts Act, 1852 (hereinafter called "the
Act of 1852"), to abolish or prohibit the exercise by
any person or persons of all or any of the rights or reputed
rights of searching for sinking or digging mines or veins of
lead ore or any other mineral rights or customs in force or
having effect in the soke and wapentake of "Wirksworth,
in the county of Derby, and particularly in that part of the
said soke and wapentake known as the "Kings Field," whether
defined, conferred or confirmed by the Act of 1852, or otherwise
by law, right, custom or usage existing or exerciseable in
so far as the same are exerciseable in or upon, or extend or
relate to any of the lands which are at the date of the passing
of the intended Act, or such other date as may be specified
in the intended Act or determined by Parliament, the property
of or in the occupation of the Council or which may at any
time, thereafter become the property of or in the occupation
of the Council (hereinafter in this paragraph called " the
said lands"); to define such of the said lands as are
now the property of or in the occupation of the Council; to
prescribe the penalties to be incurred by any person or persons
exercising or attempting to exercise any of the said rights
or reputed rights in or upon the said lands and to provide
for the recovery of the same ; to exclude the said lands from
the jurisdiction of the Barmote Courts (great and small) or
any other courts, tribunals or authorities constituted, defined,
confirmed or continued by the Act of 1852, or otherwise to
abolish, annul, limit, confine, modify or put to an end to
the said rights or customs or reputed rights or customs or
any of them in such manner as may be prescribed by the intended
Act or as may be required by Parliament; and for the purposes
of such abolition, annulment, limitation, confinement or modification
as aforesaid, and for any other of the purposes of the intended
Act to empower the Council on the one hand and the Duchy of
Lancaster and any other authority, body or person on the other
hand, to enter into and carry into effect contracts and agreements,
and to confirm any such contract or agreement that may be entered
into prior to the passing of the intended Act, and to confer
upon the said Duchy and other authority, body or person all
such powers as may be necessary or expedient for or in relation
to the carrying into effect of any of the objects aforesaid".
Also: "The Times", 21 Apr 1910. Listed under
the House of Lords Private Business on Wed 20 Apr 1910 : Matlock
Bath and Scarthin Nick Urban District Council Bill was read for
a third time and passed.
 Notes of the late Frank Clay and
newspaper clipping in Doreen Buxton's collection. The "Derby
Daily Telegraph" of 28 March 1929 reported the inquest.