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River Derwent & the Devonshire Hotel

Jubilee Bridge, The Promenade, 1890

From Lover's Walk, Jubilee Bridge, about 1900-05

North Parade, 1908

The Parade, 1902-05

Road Widening at Matlock Bath, 1967

A photograph of part of the former Promenade Gardens in Matlock Bath, on the opposite side of the road from the old Fountain Baths (out of the shot). The image above probably dates from the 1930s although it could have been taken after the Second World War. Fountain Villas can be seen behind the large tufa stone and the buildings stretch onwards to North Parade and the former Derwent Terrace Wesleyan Methodist church.

The Promenade's original outer railings next to the road had been replaced in the winter of 1905-06, following the decision to charge admission to both the Promenade and the Lovers' Walks[1]. For many years, however, there were no railings installed on the river's edge[2]. Eventually the riverside, and more importantly the people walking along the Prom, were also protected.

In 1901 a Derbyshire Times journalist commented on an important feature in both these images, which is the piece of tufa in the middle of the pool. "Many visitors will have noticed what from outside appearances is huge bed of moss round the fountain on the Promenade, Matlock Bath. Certainly this commenced as moss, and has gradually grown to the huge proportions now on view, but it an astonishing fact that as the moss grows and decays if forms the tufa for which Matlock Bath is so noted and is really brought about by the action of the lime in the water. It is a curiosity worthy of examination"[1].

Before 1903 and possibly pre-1900. The gardens had been laid out some years before.
The tufa at the base of the fountain was still small, but was to grow very large in the intervening years.
Notice the original roadside railings and
the lamplighter climbing his ladder to light the lamppost.
A fountain was shown here on the 1899 1 : 2,500 Ordnance Survey map of Matlock Bath.

For many years there were three large pieces of tufa stone on display in Matlock Bath, but today only two remain. One is in the middle of the fish pond close to the Grand Pavilion and the second is in the grounds of the former Royal Hotel, below the Temple Road car park; both of these are linked to the same water source whereas the water for this fountain came from the Fountain Baths supply. There are smaller tufa features in the Derwent Gardens.

The water feature shown here disappeared in 1967 when the A6 road, shown behind the railings in the left, was widened and the riverbank was strengthened.

About 1900

Before 1902

About 1904-05

Before 1905

Before 1904

About 1902

About 1905

About 1915

War memorial

Band stand

Road widening

See FAQ: Tufa for a description of how tufa is formed.

1. "The Promenade, Matlock Bath". No Publisher, British Manufacture - 35526. No date. © Ann Andrews collection.
2. "Promenade and Jubilee Bridge, Matlock Bath". No publisher. Posted in Derby on 19 Apr 1903 and sent to Miss May Statham in Norwood.© Maureen Smith collection
Information researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
Image 1 shown on Michael Portillo's "Great British Railway Journeys" on BBC2 on 25 January 2010.


[1] The railings replaced in the winter of 1905-06 were the result of the Matlock Bath Improvement Act, 1905. The Promenade was then enclosed by higher railings. See Promenade Gardens, about 1915.

[2] It is quite possible the riverside railings were not put in place until at least the second world war. There is one postcard, not on the site, that was published in 1927 that does not show the railings.

[3] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 16 January 1901.