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Matlock Bath: Woodbank, 1930s, when it became Cromford Court
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In August 1932 an advertisement was placed by the Derby Auctioneers J & W Heathcote announcing the sale of the 40 room mansion in Matlock Bath known as Woodbank. It had vacant possession and came with 24 acres of woodland. The suggested future use was for either a hostel, a boarding school or a private hotel but the most striking thing was that it was "very cheap"[1]. The property was subsequently acquired by the Friendship Holiday Association (F.H.A.) and was to be used as a holiday house. On Saturday 24th December the renamed Cromford Court was opened and over 100 guests arrived for the Christmas festivities[2]. At the Easter weekend of 1933 it was fully booked[3].

The Friendship Holiday Association was owned by Henry Charles White[4]. Between 1920 and 1961 he owned or leased over 40 properties all over the United Kingdom although, according to his grand daughter Elizabeth Brooking, the best times were in the 1930s. Her parents met through the F.H.A., nicknamed the "Finding a Husband Association". Following Mr. White's death in 1961, aged 89, the Friendship Holiday Association ceased trading and all its properties were sold. By then travelling abroad had become both easier and cheaper and it is probable that the type of holiday provided by the F.H.A. would not have survived for much longer.[5]

The top image dates from the 1930s and seems to indicate that repair or restoration work was underway as there is scaffolding on the right of the conservatory.


Cromford Court, date unknown.

After the War the building played a part in rehabilitating some traumatised children. About 104 children, mostly from Vienna and described as under-nourished and suffering from nerve strain, arrived at Cromford Court in 1848 for a three-month stay in the United Kingdom[6]. Their visit was organised by the British Austrian Children's Reception Committee and they were to stay at Cromford Court for a fortnight before being allocated to families[7]. They had been allowed one suitcase each, but some had packed their National Costume and a small group were photographed in the grounds. According to a newspaper report, thanks to good food, fresh air, comfortable beds and beautiful surroundings the children began to put on weight and the shadows faded from under their eyes.

The final picture, below, picture includes a parked car to the left of the house and was probably taken in the late1940s or early 1950s. It was taken from the far side of the croquet lawn.




There is more about Woodbank (Cromford Court)
       


         
    


1. "Matlock Bath, F. H. A. Cromford Court". Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ken Smith.
2. and 3. Photograph and postcard Cromford Court in the collection of, provided by and © Elizabeth Brooking.
Research provided by and © Ann Andrews Intended for personal use only

References (coloured links lead to more on site information):

[1] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 20 Aug 1932.
[2] "Nottingham Evening Post", 27 December 1932
[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph",18 April 1933.
[4] Henry Charles White can be seen in a photograph on FHA Visitors to Cromford Court, 1933 onwards
[5] From information kindly provided by Elizabeth Brooking. She believes the C.H.A., the competitor company, had a similar nickname - catch a husband!
[6] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 8 July 1948
[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 23 July 1948