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Matlock Bath: Fish Pond Stables, Providence Mine & the Mud Heap
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Fish Pond Stables



Royal Hotel, Pavilion and Holy Trinity Church



Pavilion, 1910-12



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[1]. At first glance there appears to be nothing of interest, apart from an outdoor stage on a rough piece of ground[2] 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[3].

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"[4]. The 1852 Act referred to began as the Wirksworth Mining Customs and Mineral Courts Bill of 1851 and the mining laws were codified[5].

After all the money wasting squabbles the amendment to the 1852 Act became law[6], 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.


Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 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[7]. 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.


Lynn Willies wrote a detailed account of the dispute between Messrs. Buxton and White for the Peak District Mines Historical Society.
See:
Bulletin 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


Photograph in the collection of, provided by and © Doreen Buxton.
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] This almost panoramic photograph is owned by Mrs. Doreen Buxton, who has most kindly allowed the web mistress to use it on this site.

[2] Also see: Royal Hotel, Pavilion and Holy Trinity Church

[3] 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?).

[4] Information from Doreen Buxton.

[5] "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 in 1852.
Also see: Lead Mining in Matlock and Matlock Bath

[6] "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.

[7] 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.