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Matlock Bath: The Rutland Arms & Masson Mill
Matlock Bath : Twentieth Century Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
Photograph of Masson Mill, Boston House and the Rutland Arms
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Arkwright & his Cotton Mill

Masson Mill from Harp Edge, about 1900

Woodbank, 1910

River Derwent,
Masson Weir

Masson Mill's Water Wheel, about 1930

Masson Mill Ad 1946

Masson House & Masson Terrace

Here is the second of two photographs, taken in the early twentieth century, showing the buildings opposite Arkwright's red bricked Masson Mill (also see the previous image) although the Mill is the main focus here. The spectacular limestone crags of Cat Tor are behind the mill, on the opposite side of the River Derwent and the terrace of three storey dwellings, Masson Terrace, can be seen further along the left hand side of the road.

This photograph is probably the slightly later of the two as some of the shrubbery is fractionally bigger. The words on the banner displayed outside Boston House differ slightly from those on the previous image, too: Matlock Bath | Cyclists | Rest | Beds. Cycling had become popular and cycle groups used to visit Matlock Bath every weekend.

Boston House was for sale in 1898 following the death its owner, the papermaker James Sheppard. It was then tenanted by Mr. J. W. Boden who afterwards went to the Ferry House.[1]

The identity of the two boys and the young girl wearing a boater hat is not known; they might be locals or, equally, they could be trippers from Derby or Nottingham. On the opposite side of the wall was the under manager's garden[2].

There are three things that help date the picture, two of which were mentioned by Benjamin Bryan in 1903. He wrote that, following the transfer to the English Sewing Cotton Company in 1897,"a factory chimney of red brick has since been erected, and the high wall which screened the mill from the road pulled down[3]". This photograph shows the newly built chimney and the wall has gone. It also shows the mill before further construction took place on the Mill site. This was to be the erection of a large extension, built in 1911, when a somewhat harsher red brick was used for the new building. The year before Masson had been described as a picturesque factory and was said to have been "practically identical with that erected by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1784"[2].

William Adam described what the visitor saw when entering the Dale from the southern end in 1838 and of the Mill "instantly" appearing on the right[4]. It was not just the visual impact of Masson Mill that made an impression. "The clatter of its thousand spindles and tinckling of its bells, warning the attendant its hank, or proper quantity is completed, instantly strike upon the ear".

Dr. Erasmus Darwin wrote several verses about Masson Mill. See Matlock & Matlock Bath: Inspiration of Poets.

Photograph in the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Image scanned for this website and information written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Derbyshire Times", 24 September 1898. Property Sale at Matlock Bath. The lot was withdrawn from sale.

[2] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal" 2 July 1910. The under manager was Reuben Gregory.

[3] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited.

[4] Adam, W. (1838) "The Gem of the Peak; or Matlock Bath and Its Vicinity. ..." London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row ; ... Mawe, Royal Museum, Matlock ; .... This was the first edition of his guide.