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Postcard of the Old Pavilion & Royal Hotel, Matlock Bath, 1903
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century : Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
Postcard of the Old Pavilion and Royal Hotel, Matlock Bath
Scan  Peter Aspey
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The Old Bath Hotel

Matlock Bath from the Royal Pavilion (Palais Royal), 1890

The Royal Hotel Brochure

Royal Hotel and Baths

Royal Hotel & Baths (2)

Hold to light card

Shown here is a view of the southern part of the village of Matlock Bath. The picture was taken at a time of great prosperity for the village. Next to Holy Trinity Church, almost in the centre of the picture, is the magnificent but ill-fated Royal Hotel which was destroyed by a disastrous fire in 1929. Just one wing, a later addition, survived the fire and remained standing for a further 30 or so years. This is a lovely, clear view of the hotel, which was the pride of the village and was built on the site of the Old Bath Hotel. It was opened by the owner, Major John F Wieland, in 1878[1].

The Old Pavilion is the other very large building dominating the hillside. Clifton Road, almost a question mark or a letter S, winds up the hillside beside the church with the houses on it relatively newly built. Portland House, with its garage and mews, can be seen at the bottom of the road. Behind it, half hidden from view, is Walker's Bath Terrace Hotel (with a white end). The New Bath Hotel is a little further along the terrace[2].

This enlargement, from another version of the card, shows the Royal Pavilion,
later the Palais Royal. It was set in beautifully landscaped gardens.
The building behind is believed to have been used for sports.

The Switchback railway in the Derwent Gardens is clearly visible in the foreground. In 1922 the gardens were described as follows: "The Derwent Pleasure Gardens are pleasantly situated on the banks of the River Derwent and are furnished with seats and shelters in the form of grottoes, and have a switchback railway, and in the hot water ponds are fish from various species"[3]. For quite a few years around this period Harold Buxton was the proprietor, though he had been replaced by L. A. Hacket[t] and J. Sutton by 1932.

The large triangular green field with the three trees and the greeny-brown one next to it were known as the Cumberland Field and visitors used to walk up the very steep path on the edge of this field to visit the Cumberland Cavern when it was open to the public. The line of trees at the top of the two fields show the line of the 'Wappin', an ancient roadway which led up to Masson and then over to Bonsall. Children from Holy Trinity School used to walk up the Wappin from the Derby Road site to reach the Masson Field where they played sports[4].

The original photograph for this hand tinted postcard was probably taken from the Tor on the opposite bank of the River Derwent. I would welcome a more accurate position if anyone can provide it.

Identical to the top picture, although the hand colouring is softer.

The following quotation describing the Royal Hotel has been taken from 'Bemroses' Guide to Matlock, Bakewell, Chatsworth, Haddon Hall, &c' by John Hicklin, Third Edition, pub Bemrose and Sons, London (no date, but about 1869).

'In the year 1866, the picturesque situation of the Old Bath, and the ancient celebrity of its springs, attracted the attention of a number of visitors, who, in conjunction with a few influential residents, formed themselves into a Company, under the provisions of the Limited Liability Act, with a nominal Capital of £25,000, for the purpose of erecting on the site a new building, combining all the conveniences and requisites of a first-class Hydropathic Establishment. In furtherance of this design, Messrs. Whyatt and Redford of Manchester, were engaged as the Architects, under whose direction a handsome edifice has been built, after the domestic Gothic style of the fourteenth century, with all adaptations to modem requirements, and with a tasteful regard to its romantic position. The establishment is divided into two departments; one consisting of the residential portion, and the other appropriated to Thermal purposes; they are connected by an enclosed corridor, intended to serve as a conservatory and a promenade. In front of the building is a terrace, under which are the kitchens, housekeeper's and other rooms, connected with the domestic arrangements of the establishment. On the ground-floor are the reception rooms, and apartments for the stewards and physicians, dining hall, library, drawing and private sitting rooms, lavatories, and other accommodations. On the floors above are sixty-seven chambers, some of which can be used for two beds, and are en suite with private sitting rooms. A prospect tower, erected over the staircase, affords grand views of the charming landscape. The approach to the establishment for visitors, is by a carriage-porch on the terrace. The Thermal arrangements include a large swimming-bath, and a number of baths required for medicinal purposes.' (pp.18-19)'

1. "Pavilion and Gardens, Matlock" first published by Valentines in 1903. No.40600.With my very grateful thanks to the late Peter Aspey who scanned his image for this web site.
2. "Pavilion and Gardens, Matlock Bath". Published by Valentine. No number, but identical to the top image although there is more around the edge of the second picture. Posted 1 Apr 1907 in Matlock Bath. No message. © Ann Andrews collection.
Research provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Both image and information intended for personal use only.

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

[1] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 7 September 1878. Matlock Bath. Opening of the New Great Hotel.

[2] There is more information about both Walker's Bath Terrace Hotel and the New Bath Hotel. Also see trade directory entries in the site's Historical Records.

[3] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1922 There is more about the Switchback railway. See:
a) Matlock Bath: Derwent Gardens - The Switchback, (1) Rise & Fall. The story of Matlock Bath's Switchback Railway, from the beginning to its demise.
b) Matlock Bath: Derwent Gardens - The Switchback, (2) Adrenalin Rush.

[4] See About Holy Trinity School.

You may like to view the following, which will open in a new window:
Larger image (different card but same view)
On the back: To Master Gill Hancock of London 10 Mar 1926
Preview half size rear (PC)