A late nineteenth century postcard of the Royal Hotel, set against
the backdrop of Cat Tor.
Little wonder that the hotel's management were proud of their view.
An 1886 advertisement described the hotel when W H Ivaats, was
"Royal Hotel, adjoining the New Pavilion. A
first-class modern Hotel, in the finest situation, overlooking
a grand Panoramic Scene. Five acres of pleasure grounds, fountains,
tepid swimming bath, tennis lawns &c. Tariff moderate"
In January 1885 the fifth annual ball of the Conservative Association
was held at the hotel. Four of the web mistress's Clay great great
uncles were listed amongst the guests. "The ballroom, under
the superintendence of a committee, had been artistically decorated
for the occasion, the walls being adorned with oil paintings, evergreen, &c.
The spacious hall and the conservatory were reserved for a promenade
of the daughters and great pains had been bestowed to secure comfort
for the company. ... nearly 100 ladies and gentlemen were present.
Supper was partaken of at midnight".
The Royal Hotel had already earned a reputation for being top class.
This sepia card was taken at a similar time to
the top image
and provides us with a closer view of the front of the hotel.
The small building on the right survived for years after the original
part of hotel was demolished.
The hotel's swimming pool was housed in a small stone building in
the grounds, seen in both the image above and the photo below.
It was fed from water from the Radium Well. Inside the building,
which was entered from the side away from the camera, was a platform
area. Steps went down into the swimming pool and the water levels
could be raised and lowered.
There was a skylight in the roof to light the pool.
The grounds were beautifully kept. There was a large vegetable
garden and the hotel also had extensive summer gardens with a large
rose collection that was greatly admired by the visitors.
There was also a revolving summer house in the grounds.
Although the colour in the above image hasn't lasted, the picture
gives us an idea of how the grounds would have looked at the beginning
of the twentieth century. The view is toward's the Heights of Abraham
and shows the hotel's wrought iron gateway, supported by stone
pillars. Peeping out from behind the timber frame building close
to the gate, but on the opposite side of the road from the hotel,
is the photographic studio used by Percy Rowbottom and others.
The timber frame building was used for stabling; during the Second
World War part of it was used by the Regimental barber and it is
believed the rest was used as a garage for the commanding officer's
Following the terrible fire on 1 April 1929, which destroyed the
recently refurbished building (though not the later annexe), the
hotel was pulled down. An unfortunate outcome of the fire, with
the loss of income from the tourist trade, was a sharp downturn
in the economy of the village.
The Army used the land during the Second World War and they left
behind the footings for their buildings, which were an eyesore
in the village for quite a long time despite being a great play
area for the children. And a probably forbidden one by their parents.
This garden is now covered by the tarmac of a public car park.
The car park was a necessity for visitors to use, as there was
very little elsewhere, and has provided some relief for the village's
narrow roads. Not shown above, but to the right and lower down
closer to the road, is the pond with a large tufa stone in the
middle where, in the 1950s and undoubtedly before then, the local
children used to fish for tadpoles and look for newts and other
pond life. The pond used water from the swimming pool; it then
went to the petrifying well under Temple Walk and finally across
the road to both the paddling pool and some went into the fish
There is a later picture of the Royal Hotel taken
from almost the same position which shows a
large extension at the back of the building and other additions.
1903 Advertisement for the Royal Hotel, when Mrs. Shaw was the Manageress