Victoria Prospect Tower, Matlock Bath
|Matlock Bath : Twentieth Century Photographs,
Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
Named after Princess Victoria
(later Queen Victoria) who visited Matlock Bath in 1832, work
on the circular stone tower was begun in 1844 by Mr. John Pechell,
the then owner of the Heights of Abraham. It is 800 feet above
sea level and was designed both to view the countryside from
and to be seen at some distance. The tower is about 50 feet in
height and the view from the top affords wonderful views of Derbyshire
and some surrounding counties. The structure is mostly constructed
from irregular pieces of rubble stone but dressed stone has been
used around the entrance doorway and at the top around
the viewing area.
Amongst the earliest visitors were a group of Birmingham
Sunday Schools teachers and their friends who made made a pleasure
excursion to Matlock Bath in 1846. They got off the train at Ambergate
and then travelled by boat along the Cromford Canal. "The
party then made for the Heights of Abraham which abounds with the
most sublime and picturesque scenery. ... A great improvement has
been lately made by the erection of the "Victoria
the party were exceedingly pleased with as they were able to see
over the counties of Nottingham and Stafford".
The following year the Derby Mercury announced that "Mr.
B. Bryan, the well-known Matlock guide, is the new lessee for the
far famed pleasure grounds [the Heights of Abraham], including
the Royal Rutland Cavern and the recently erected Victoria Tower
- the summit of which commands the finest panoramic view in Derbyshire.
From Mr. Bryan's experience of 25 years as a Matlock - or should
we rather say - a Derbyshire guide, we think this noble and valuable
property could not have been intrusted in better hands[a]".
In 1849 the same newspaper reported that "the inhabitants
of Matlock Bath, and the villages within a circuit of a few miles,
have been somewhat puzzled during the recent dark evenings, at
observing a brilliant red light of considerable magnitude, glowing
away for hours, apparently near the summit of Masson. Various conjectures
have been hazarded as to the nature of the interesting looking
object alluded to, but we are informed it is simply a fire-beacon,
consisting of some long enduring pyrotechnic devise, which Mr.
Bryan, of the Heights of Abraham, has recently introduced on the
Victoria prospect tower".
Mr. Bryan liked to be dramatic and often lit up the Heights with
Bengal lights. On this occasion he lit up Hag Rocks.
In his book about Matlock, Benjamin Bryan,
junior, said he thought the
views were better than from the top of Masson, three hundred feet
higher. J. B. Firth described
the tower as "a conspicuous landmark from the valley" and
it "offers a delightful view". Firth, though, thought
the view from the summit was even better and would rank amongst "the
finest prospects for the whole of Derbyshire". If the "valley
of the Derwent at its foot were better visible it could challenge
comparison with the very best." Whoever was right about the
best vantage point, all the views are wonderful on a clear day
as you can see for many miles.
A similar view to the top image, although a little
further round, and of similar date (early 20th century).
There is a narrow opening on the side of the tower.
Below and to the left is the inscription, showing
the builder's initials.
See Matlock MI's, Miscellaneous
1. "Victoria Tower, Matlock Bath". Published by Salisbury
Ball, Sheffield, No. 195. Posted in Matlock Bath on 15 Apr 1911.
"We are all having a glorious time here". This card
replaced one that was posted 24 July 1913.
2. "Heights of Abraham Tower, Matlock Bath". Published by Valentine & Sons
Ltd., Dundee and London, No.61565. This is a real Photograph. Printed
in Gt. Britain. First published in 1909. Unused.
Scanned Images © Ann Andrews collection.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
 "The Derby Mercury",
Wednesday, August 19, 1846.
[a] "The Derby Mercury",
21 April 1847. Heights of Abraham.
 "The Derby Mercury",
, Wednesday, September 26, 1849. The Mr. Bryan referred to was Mr.
Benjamin Bryan, senior
 Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History
of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose
& Sons, Limited. This gentleman was Benjamin Bryan, junior, son
of Benjamin Bryan who ran the Heights of Abraham for several years
in the mid-nineteenth century.
 Firth, J.B. (1908) "Highways
and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London.
may like to view
Bath's Main Attractions
Chapter 4 of Hall's "Days in Derbyshire" (1863)
Croston's "On Foot Through
the Peak, 1868", Chapter 15
About Derbyshire" by Edward Bradbury,
1884, Chapter 21
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