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Matlock Bath: Mr. Buxton's Royal Museum, Interior
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Spar shop interior 1
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Switchback, Rise & Fall

Adrenalin Rush

Derwent Gardens Cafe

Mr. Buxton's Royal Museum & the Great Petrifying Well

The river behind South Parade's shops and businesses

In 1838 William Adam wrote the following about Buxton's shop, which had opened a few years before:
"MR. BUXTON'S ROYAL MUSEUM. - This place has been made into a Spar Shop about eight or nine years, and presents a striking instance of what some men can do to change their trade. Mr. B. was brought up to a far different business (that of a carpenter), but took a liking to this, having obtained an insight into it while employed by Mr. Vallance ; and since the trade has been thrown open he has, by his industry and attention, collected an excellent stock of all kinds of Derbyshire and other goods"[1]. It was Mr. John Buxton that Adam referred to, and he was to turn the shop into a successful family business.

"The manufacture of bijouterie and articles of virtu is very extensively carried on at Matlock. The marble, ores, spars, and stalactites, with which the neighbourhood abounds, are converted by ingenious workmen into almost every conceivable form. These productions fill the various museums, forming collections in several instances of considerable magnitude and artistic beauty[2]". This was written in a 1903 guide.

Three years later Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis contributed an article about Matlock Bath to the Pall Mall Gazette that he had written whilst staying at the Royal Hotel, providing a good description of the village. "The spar shops contain a wonderful variety of useful articles. You can but a miniature font, or the model of a tombstone, or a little basin into which to put your watch when you go to bed, or a tobacco jar, or an excellent imitation of an Easter egg"[3].

Both quotations could be describing the interior of Mr. Buxton's "Royal" Museum on South Parade, which is shown in these wonderful photographs. The long established firm was run by Herbert Buxton and by his father, John, before him. Herbert's son Harold and his wife and daughters also helped in their business[4].

Spar shop interior 2

By the time these photographs were taken Harold had been working at the Switchback Railway in the Derwent Gardens for some time. Edgar Buxton, another son, initially worked as an auctioneer before joining his brother to work on the Switchback; he was to die during the first World War[5]. When the Misses Buxton finally left the Museum in 1928 their stock-in-trade was sold for them by Hodgkinson and Son, the Matlock auctioneers. It was described as "Biscuit ornaments, Fluor Spar, Black Marble, Fossil and Italian Marble and Derbyshire Spar Ornaments"[6].

Derbyshire Courier, 5 August 1882

A large Stock of ORNAMENTS in Blue John,
Black Marble, &c., &c.

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

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

[1] 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.

[2] "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated." (1903) Abel Heywood & Son, Manchester & London.

[3] Article reproduced in full in "Guide to Matlock and Matlock Bath" (ca. 1907) Printed and published by Geo. Hodgkinson, Matlock Printing Works.

[4] Herbert Buxton is listed in all the Matlock Bath census returns between 1841 and 1901. Details of his father's Will is on Pre-1858 Wills, Surnames B. A report of Herbert's death can be found on Matlock Bath & Scarthin Newspaper Cuttings, 1912 and his will is on Post 1858 Wills, Surnames B. Harold Buxton first appeared in the 1861 census, aged 1 month. Edgar Buxton is shown as an auctioneer in the 1901 census. The Buxton family appear in both the nineteenth century trade directories and the twentieth century trade directories for Matlock Bath.

[5] Edgar is named on Matlock Bath's War Memorial.

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 19 May 1928. The sale was to take place on 22 May and included some of their household furniture as well as the stock-in-trade.