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Matlock Bath: Boats For Hire, 1950s
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Rowing boats tied up at the landing stage
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The rowing boats were tied up at the landing stage behind the Grand Pavilion. The man in charge was Walter Bird, who also operated the ferry across the river[1]. He was first employed by Matlock Urban District Council on 5th April 1938 although his Council work was interrupted by war service. He joined the Royal Signals and was at a posting in Gibraltar in 1941. Afterwards Walter was employed by the Council as a motor boat man once more, also working at the pleasure grounds when necessary. Winter work was found for employees during the closed season, all important in a tourist industry with a very limited season. Walter repaired the rowing boats in the old Pierrot shed which used to be behind the Grand Pavilion. Later on he was a handyman and also served as a caretaker at the Pavilion. Walter Gregory, who lived at the lodge at the Heights with his brother Arthur, also worked on the boats[2].


Walter Bird on the river


Walter Bird was born in Matlock Bath in 1904, one of the children of Walter and Lizzie Bird (nee Bemrose)[3]; Walter senior was employed by the New Bath Hotel Company to quarry tufa for a time. Walter Bird's grandfather was William Edward Bird, the marble mason, and his great grandfather was Edward Bird, the artist and engraver on black marble[4].

Walter Bird junior married Elizabeth Brown in 1929 and they lived on Orchard Road[1]. During the 1960s he was involved with the Illuminations and Venetian Nights Committee[5].


Original photographs inthe collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Images scanned for this website and information researched and written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Walter Bird is also mentioned on Matlock Bath: The Ferry and the River Derwent, 1905.
[2] Additional information from conversations with Ken Smith, who checked his records to provide dates and other information, including a postcard sent to Walter by Mrs. O'Dowda in late 1941.
[3] See the family in the 1901 census, before Walter was born.
[3] The artist Edward Bird advertised in several nineteenth century trade directories.
[5] Programme of the Illuminations and Venetian Nights, 1968.