Mrs. Mary Whittaker first opened the Long Tor Cavern to the public
in 1892. She had bought property in Matlock Dale the previous
year and it included an old limestone quarry with a 150 cliff face.
Whilst clearing away debris an old, disused cavern was discovered
in this cliff and it contained specimens of fluor spar, dog tooth,
fossils and Derbyshire marble so Mrs. Whittaker decided to open
it up for excursionists and visitors to view.
The opening period was short lived. On 26 July 1892 Mrs.
Whittaker's neighbour, Mrs. Sarah Pearson of Brunswood Villa, sent
Job Bunting of
Bonsall to the cavern. According to allegations made by Mrs. Whittaker
in a court case, he forced his way in, damaging the door and breaking
some of the specimens. Two days later, before 8 a.m., four men
went into the cavern and fired blast shots that caused untold
damage. Mrs. Pearson and Mr. Bunting locked the cavern and took
possession of the key. The dispute was all about mining rights claimed
by Mrs. Pearson. Whilst the case was investigated on the order
of the judge, the cavern had to be closed.
Despite the arguments about lead mining rights, in November 1892
the judge deemed that trespass had been committed.
He also felt that, even though a lead mine owned by the late Mr.
Pearson had led off the cavern, the damage that had been done
was nothing to do with searching for lead ore.
Mary Whittaker was then able to show the cavern to visitors once
more. The advertisement above shows her outside the shop where
she sold trinkets and the cavern entrance can be seen behind her,
to the right of the shop.
Advertisement from "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling,
Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated." (1906)
Abel Heywood & Son, Manchester & London. The advertisement
was published in the 1903 edition of Heywood's Guide, but without
the photograph. Advertisement in the collection of and provided by
and © Ken Smith.
Image scanned for this website and information written, researched
by and © Ann
Intended for personal use only
 "The Derby Mercury",
24 August, 1892. Report of the first hearing of the case.
 "The Derby Mercury",
9 November, 1892. Report of case heard at Matlock County Court Room.