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Matlock Bath: Mrs. Whittaker's Long Tor Cavern, Dale Road
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Whittaker's Bottling Plant, Dale Road

Mrs. Mary Whittaker, Aërated Water Manufacturer

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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[1].

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[2]. 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 Andrews.
Intended for personal use only


[1] "The Derby Mercury", 24 August, 1892. Report of the first hearing of the case.
[2] "The Derby Mercury", 9 November, 1892. Report of case heard at Matlock County Court Room.