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The Victoria Prospect Tower, Matlock Bath
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Living at the Heights



Great Rutland Cavern



Heights of Abraham, Great Rutland Cavern, 1912



Upper Tower, Heights of Abraham




View from
The Heights of Abraham



View from Starkholmes 1908



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 Tower," which the party were exceedingly pleased with as they were able to see over the counties of Nottingham and Stafford[1]".

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[2]". 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[3], junior, said he thought the views were better than from the top of Masson, three hundred feet higher. J. B. Firth[4] 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.

References:

[1] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, August 19, 1846.
[a] "The Derby Mercury", 21 April 1847. Heights of Abraham.
[2] "The Derby Mercury", , Wednesday, September 26, 1849. The Mr. Bryan referred to was Mr. Benjamin Bryan, senior
[3] 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.
[4] Firth, J.B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London.

You may like to view
Royal Visitors
Matlock Bath's Main Attractions
Inscriptions
See Chapter 4 of Hall's "Days in Derbyshire" (1863)
Croston's "On Foot Through the Peak, 1868", Chapter 15
"All About Derbyshire" by Edward Bradbury, 1884, Chapter 21

Elsewhere on the Internet
Heights of Abraham