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Matlock Bath: Lovers' Walks and the Band Stand
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Band Stand on Matlock Bath's Promenade
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Jubilee Bridge, 1910

Illuminations & Venetian Fête in the 1950's

Chairs are set out for a performance in Matlock Bath's Band Stand, or Band Kiosk as it was originally called. More often than not it was to listen to performances by the brass band, but entertainment was also provided by a group of Pierrots, local choral societies and even members of the Operatic Society during the first couple of decades of the twentieth century. The Band Stand, which was centre stage in the Venetian Fête in the 1950s and 1960s, was first lit up during the Fête of 1905 when "there was a gas illumination of the band kiosk in colours[1]".

The Band Stand was built because of an application to the Local Board by Matlock Bath's Military Band; this band had been founded by Mr. Hilder in 1891 and they were to play together for 10 years[2]. In 1892 the secretary of the band committee wrote to the Local Board asking for permission to erect a band kiosk on the promenade for concerts in the evenings and a tentative permission was granted[3]. In 1894 the Local Board held a special meeting to discuss the issue of Sunday afternoon performances by the Matlock Bath Military Band. Mr. J. E. Lawton chaired the meeting at which a letter was read by the vicar, Rev. Baker, protesting about the proposal. However, "Mr. Buxton presented a petition signed by 62 ratepayers in the immediate vicinity of the band kiosk, in favour of the innovation. The opinion of the Board was that the petition was a fair representation of the views of the residents who would be in close proximity to the band, and a resolution was adopted asking Mr. Arkwright to give his permission for occasional concerts on Sunday afternoons[4]". Unfortunately for the band Frederic Arkwright declined to give permission for the Sunday concerts, to the disappointment of the band's supporters[5].

The Military Band wasn't the first band in Matlock Bath, nor would it be the last. As early as 1863 a band from the village competed in a brass band contest at Crystal Palace. Twenty one bands took part and the third prize, of 15l. (£15), was awarded to the Matlock Bath group[6]. Twenty years later Matlock Bath had a Quadrille Band[7] and shortly afterwards Mr. Barnes's Matlock Bath Orchestral Band were performing locally[8]. Brass Band music is, of course, still enjoyed today.

But in September 1914 the Bandstand was used for a different purpose. Frederic Arkwright addressed a public meeting from its stage in support of Lord Kitchener’s demand for men in a heartfelt plea to persuade more men from the locality to join up. Nineteen men from Matlock Bath had already done so and Mr. Arkwright told the assembled crowd that he had one son already at the front, whom he hadn't heard from for a fortnight, and the other was in the Derby Recruiting office; the latter was signing 1,150 recruitment forms each day. He just wished he (Frederic) were 20 or 30 years younger as he would have been amongst those volunteering[9].

About 1900

Before 192

About 1904-05

Before 1905

Before 1904

About 1902

About 1905

About 1915


Tufa fountain

War memorial

Road widening

"Promenade & Lovers Walks, Matlock Bath". No.35525. Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Image scanned for this website and information researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only


[1] "Derby Daily Telegraph" 4 September 1905.

[2] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited.

[3] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, June 22, 1892. See Matlock Bath & Scarthin Newspaper Cuttings, 1892.

[4] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, May 16, 1894.

[5] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 9 June 1894.

[6] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, August 5, 1863.

[7] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, December 26, 1883. Report of Matlock Bath's Quadrille Band playing at Fritchley.

[8] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, November 17, 1886.

[9] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 11 September 1914. Matlock Bath War Meeting.