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Matlock Bath: River Derwent & Promenade, about 1904
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1870s



The Promenade



North Parade from across the river



Green Bank is shown on this 1870s stereo view



Matlock Bath from Lovers' Walks, 1900-05




Past Matlock & Matlock Bath photographers



The section of river between the Jubilee Bridge and the Midland Hotel hasn't changed much since this picture was taken, although the Promenade as such has gone. It has been replaced by a wide footpath for much of its length, with trees lining the riverbank along most of the stretch we can see here.

We have a good view of the houses and shops of North Parade, as well as the Derwent Terrace church, on the far side of the main road. On later photographs that were taken from either the river or the riverbank in front of the old bandstand (which is approximately where this view was taken from) the view was not quite so open. This is because in early 1906, following Royal assent being granted to the Matlock Bath Improvement Act of 1905[1], Matlock Bath Urban District Council took away the low fence that ran along the promenade side of the main road and replaced it with higher railings and eventually a tall hedge[2]. This eventually obscured the view of the ground floors of the shops that can be seen in this picture (see the black and white image below).

What is especially striking about this image, though, is the high stone wall reinforcing the river bank. As part of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887, when the Jubilee Bridge was built and opened, the existing wall was raised by three feet. As a result the Council were able to widen the Promenade and made it such a feature for the tourists until the A6 was widened in 1967.

It was a busy day when the picture was taken and all the riverside seats were filled, but it is impossible to know whether they were tourists sitting on them or local people enjoying the sunshine. Hiring a rowing boat and spending a peaceful afternoon on the Derwent has long been a pleasant thing to do.

Above the shops and businesses of the Parade are various houses. On the left is a section of Waterloo road from Wellington House to Belgrano before it zigzags up the hillside towards the "round" house. The large building on the right, with a large greenhouse in the garden, is the large property known as Green Bank. It was divided into two with Francis Caulfield Balguy[3], a bank manager, in one half and a solicitor, Thomas Henry Ladd[4], in the other half. George Henry Key[5], the colour manufacturer, moved into Green Bank in the early 1900s.

See a roughly contemporary black and white image, "Matlock Bath from the River" (it is in the "Just images" section of the site).
Stereo view of North Parade Matlock Bath, about 1870 shows the river flowing past the Midland Hotel (also in the "Just images" section).



The second picture, produced by the same publisher (JWS), was taken a few yards downstream and will have been taken a few minutes afterwards. We can see the buildings from the Methodist Church (just about visible on the right) to Fountain Villas and the red bricks of Fernie Bank. Perhaps the two boats on the river were hired from the landing stage on the right hand bank. The card was posted in October 1904 and the sender was enjoying an Indian summer in the Matlocks as he wrote "We are having very nice weather it was like July yesterday".



The third image, that was taken between the wars[6], also features the landing stage which had by this time lost the shelter on the left hand end. It is included here to show the how the hedge changed the view of the Parade.

Whilst no boats appear to be for hire, the seats on the prom are again full of people enjoying what looks to be a warm summer afternoon. Behind them, the hedge has grown up although at this time it remained relatively low. This picture was taken from closer to the Jubilee Bridge than the coloured postcard. The person on the first floor balcony over one of the restaurants is probably Mrs. Eliza Hardstaff[7].


1. "Matlock Bath". Published by JWS [J. Welch & Sons, Portsmouth], No.2276. Posted on 4 Jul 1904 in Matlock Bath. Image © Ann Andrews collection.
2. "On the river at Matlock Bath". Published by JWS [J. Welch & Sons, Portsmouth], No.2277. Posted on 23 Oct 1904 at Matlock Bridge. Image © Ann Andrews collection
3. "Promenade, Matlock Bath", an Edmonds photo. Image © Ken Smith collection.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] "The Times", 3 Jun, 1905. House of Lords: Matlock Bath Improvement Bill read for the third time and passed on Friday 2 June. The Royal Assent was given to the Bill and the Matlock Bath Improvement Act became law on 4 August, 1905. Also see Matlock Bath: Promenade Gardens, about 1915.
[2] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 30 April 1887.
[3] Mr. and Mrs Ladd are shown at Green Bank in the 1891 census | the 1901 census. Directory listings include Kelly's 1876 Directory | Kelly's Directory 1908 | Kelly's Directory 1912. Whilst no address was given, they were probably living there in the 1881 census. Their MI is at Holy Trinity.
[4] Mr. Balguy was shown as living at the property in the 1891 census | the 1901 census | Kelly's 1891 Directory | Kelly's 1895 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory |
[5] Mr. Key is shown at Green Bank in Kelly's Directory 1908 | Kelly's Directory 1912 | Kelly's Directory 1916 |
[6] Women had adopted shorter hemlines during the First World War.
[7] See: Matlock Bath: North Parade, 1920s.