For many years a favoured leisure activity, for visitors and locals
alike, has been hiring a rowing boat and boating on the River Derwent.
Rowers are able to travel for a reasonable distance both up and
down stream before they need to turn round and row back. By following
the current you can go down towards the weir at Masson Mill, where
warning notices are suspended from wire that stretches across the
river. It is the same if rowers venture upstream. The river looks
peaceful and calm but it can be treacherous for the unwary.
The ladies in the fuller of the two boats are all
wearing hats. Both rowing boats are close to the landing stage
behind the Grand Pavilion (now the Mining Museum) and it is probable
that they were hired from there, although there
was more than one place where boats could be hired at that time.
The entrance to the Derwent Gardens is behind the boating shed
and the Switchback Railway sign is just beyond.
Lovers' Walks is on the opposite bank and the limestone outcrop
of Cat Tor is downstream.
The landing stage was being re-surfaced when the picture was taken,
paved for the first time.
Sepia version of the card
The following was printed in a tourist guides that is roughly
contemporary with this card:
"Boats are let out to hire,
at 6d. per. hour, on the length of the river flowing
southwards along the Parade at Matlock Bath, but the utmost care
should be taken not to row beyond the board which gives notice
of the peril incurred by those who pass that boundary mark. There
is a Weir about a hundred yards below, which creates a
strong undercurrent, and there have been several accidents of boating
parties disregarding the warning".
In the year these pictures were taken a visitor foolishly stood
up in a rowing boat, threatened to drown everyone (possibly as
a joke) and the boat then overturned.
Below is a list of those known to have accidentally drowned whilst
boating on the River Derwent at Matlock Bath:
- 16 Jan 1852
Dr James Cumming, aged 48 and his son James Macdonald Cumming,
aged 13, of Buxton.
Both buried Matlock 31 Jan 1852
- 11 Aug 1892
Harry Marriott, aged 13. From Farnsfield, NTT, visiting with
members of church choir and vicar.
Buried Matlock Bath 13 Aug 1892
- 16 Apr 1897 (Good Friday)
Annie Holmes and Lizzie Holmes, her sister, from Higham. Orphaned,
with one brother living.
Arthur Whittaker and Henry Smith. Both from Westhouses, near
Annie's body was never recovered.
- 5 Apr 1901 (Good Friday)
Luke Brown, aged 21 and Benjamin Brown, aged 18, brothers of
Alma, Selston, NTT.
The final tragedy involved a young soldier, who took on a bet
to attempt to cross the river via the ferry rope. A number of holiday
makers, including the young man's father, witnessed what happened. He
got half way across the river, but suddenly he shouted "Dad
I am done" and
dropped into the water. It took some hours to recover the body.
- 21 Aug 1921
Private Thomas William Seal. 9th Lancers of 70 Bridge Gate, Derby.
His horse attended the funeral, taken there from Tidworth
by a number of his comrades.
Although the above names only those who drowned at Matlock Bath,
Matlock's parish register names others who have drowned.