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Visitors to Matlock Bath - Travelling by Motor Charabanc
Matlock Bath : Twentieth Century Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
 


What better way to remember your visit to Matlock Bath than to have your photograph taken in the motor charabanc that had brought you to the village for the day? Here are twenty-four photos of people who visited Matlock Bath in the 1920s and who were captured on camera. The pictures were mostly taken by Edgar Wright, who lived first at Upperwood and later at Starkholmes[1].

As can be seen from these images, the charabancs were big and heavy. They had solid tyres and were high from the ground, with toast rack open seating. A wet weather hood was fixed on the back. The front and back wheels were often different, presumably reflecting the different loads at each end of the vehicle. The charabancs that visited Matlock Bath were made by A.E.C., Maudslay of Coventry or Tilling Stevens, amongst others[1]. There were numerous designs, as can be seen below.

Visitors came by road from far and wide. They arrived from Sheffield and Rotherham, from Birmingham and Tamworth, from Manchester, as well as from Nottingham, Burton and Derby. Sometimes their trip was just to Matlock Bath, but they often took in other places, such as Chatsworth, Haddon, Dovedale, Hartington and the Via Gellia. The parties varied in size; not only did family groups hire the private vehicles but workers and other groups groups sometimes hired more than one vehicle for their annual outing. For example, in 1921 Tamworth St. John's Ambulance visited[2] and in 1927 three charabancs were hired to drive Mapperley Men's Conservative Association to Matlock Bath, where they had tea at the Fishpond Hotel before returning home[3]. In 1929 several charabancs conveyed the old folk, inmates of Bakewell Union, to their annual treat provided by Matlock residents[4]. There were thousands of people who visited, but during the week the charabanc's occupants were mostly women's groups.

Charabanc outings were advertised by firms such as Clower's Tours of Nottingham; in 1924 they charged 9/- [9 shillings] for a tour of Matlock [Bath], Haddon Hall and Chatsworth whilst another company, Charabanc Tours, offered day trips to Matlock Bath "by the Grand Fleet" for 6s. 6d. return[5]. There were also "Gipsy Queen" and "Pride of the Dale" trips from Nottingham as well as outings "in the Nottingham Co-operative Society's Motor de Luxe"[6]. Numerous other companies, across several adjacent counties, offered similar excursions.

Such trips were not always without incident, and there were several reports of accidents involving motor charabancs. Some were less serious that others, such as the accident near Ambergate Wire Works in 1923[7]. Another accident on Burton-road, Derby, of a group en route to Matlock from Birmingham in 1925, resulted in just bruises for the passengers[8]. Other accidents were more serious and there were some fatalities.

Parking was never easy and in 1931 even Station Approach was packed with vehicles. As one unnamed local wrote at the time "it seems ironical that the old Midland Railway, which helped make Matlock Bath a holiday centre by running cheap excursions long before the days of motors, should now allow their property to be used as a park for the motor charabancs of their chief competitors[9]".

chara 1

1. Group of fourteen women, with driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Small charabanc with four doors on the passenger side. There are wire wheels at the front, with thinner tyres than those at the back of the vehicle. An empty chara is parked in front of the Pavilion.
Date: None provided.

chara 2

2. Group of fourteen men and nine women, with driver in peaked cap.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Charabanc has only one door on the passenger side. The vehicle's hood is not completely stowed, so perhaps this group had encountered a shower of rain.
Date: None provided.

chara 3

3. Group of thirty-one people includes thirteen men, one of whom is presumably the driver, and one small boy. There is another chara behind.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side. The road up to the Royal Hotel can be seen in the background.
Description: Charabanc has six doors on the passenger side. Registration no. FE 398.
Date: None provided

chara 4

4. Group, almost all women and children, with driver standing beside his vehicle. He is wearing a mac and a peaked cap, probably the uniform of the charabanc company.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath. His photograph number 181.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side. The Royal Hotel and the spire of Holy Trinity Church can be seen.
Description: Charabanc has five doors on the passenger side and logo of __ Morton Bros?.
Date: None provided.

chara 5

5. All male party of twenty-eight, plus driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, opposite the main door. The Fish Pond Hotel, the Fish Pond and the first shop on South Parade are behind the group.
Description: Vehicle looks more like a bus. Registration No. HA 2478. It looks as if a tent, or similar, is in the bus stop area above the group.
Date: None provided.

chara 6

6. Twenty-eight charabanc visitors, plus driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Six doors on the passenger side.
Date: None provided.

chara 7

7. Group of seven women, five men and three children. The driver's arm is resting on the steering wheel.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Four doors on the passenger side. Pyle, Buxton, is written on the back of the vehicle.
Date: None provided.

chara 8

8. There are seven scouts in uniform with two scout leaders, all of whom are standing in front of the charabanc, so perhaps this is a photograph of a Scout troop and their families. The remainder of the party is made up of thirteen women, four children, one man and the driver either seated or standing in the vehicle. So many individuals would not fit into one vehicle, so the party must have arrived in two charas.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Vehicle behind shows the registration E44-
Date: None provided.

chara 9

9. Fifteen men and eleven women, plus their driver, make up this party of excursionists.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: This photo will have been taken in the grounds of the Royal Hotel. The hillside behind the motor vehicle is the Heights of Abraham and the large property is Guilderoy.
Description: Six doors on the passenger side of the chara. Speed 12 M.P.H. is written on the bodywork, below the door closest to the driver.
Date: None provided.

chara 10

10. Only one man, apart from the driver, was brave enough to accompany this party of twenty-three women and a baby.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Charabanc owned by A F Hancock Ltd, Brampton No.127. Speed 12 M.P.H. is written on the bodywork.
Date: None provided.

chara 11

11. Presumably this a group of Yorkshire men and women, with their driver. There are nine men in the group - not enough to form a cricket team.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Unclear, but either the Grand Pavilion car park or possibly in the grounds of the Royal Hotel.
Description: Charabanc owned by T. S. Boothroyd, Thrybergh, Rotherham, Tel.580[?], presumably Thomas Sargan Boothroyd. Speed 12 M.P.H. is written on the bodywork.
Date: None provided.

chara 12

12. There is a man on the left, either sitting or crouched behind the chara's bonnet. He might have been the Pavilion's caretaker. This group perhaps had enjoyed a more comfortable ride as there are approximately seventeen women, a child and two men in this group picture. So less passengers that in other vehicles of a similar size shown on this page.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, Front, Side Door.
Description: Long, low charabanc with only one door on the passenger side.
Date: None provided.

chara 13

13. A party of men, women and children, plus their driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side. Above the group, top right, is the gateway to the Royal Hotel.
Description: Charabanc has six passenger doors on the side facing the camera and solid tyres.
Date: None provided.

chara 14

14. Nine women, two men and a baby, together with their driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath. His photograph number 56.
Location: Photographed behind the Fish Pond. The buildings behind are the Fish Pond Hotel on the left and the first shop of South Parade on the right.
Description: Small charabanc, with three rows of seats. It is unclear what the box on the running board contains.
Date: None provided.

chara 15

15. Just three men in the party of twenty-four, one of whom was the driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath. His photograph number 98.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: This is vehicle 1, belonging to a company called J M. Their charabanc 4 is below. It has four doors on the side facing the camera.
Date: None provided.

chara 16

16. An all male party of twenty-eight, with driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: This is vehicle 4, belonging to a company called J M. Their charabanc 1 is above. There are six doors on the side facing the camera.
Date: None provided.

chara 17

17. Group of seventeen women and three young girls from Bulwell, Nottinghamshire. Another woman is to the left of the tree, probably waiting for the photograph to be taken before walking past.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath.
Location: Beside the Fish Pond. The Fish Pond Hotel can be seen behind the group.
Description: Vehicle looks more like a bus.
Date: None provided.

chara 18

18. Group of women, with driver. Vehicle has the logo of D. Hargreaves.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Starkholmes, Matlock.
Location: Beside Fish Pond, with Fish Pond Hotel in the background.
Description: Charabanc has one door for the driver. Note the spare petrol cans near the back wheel. There is a battery box beside the driver's door. A loose cable connects the light on the driver's side to something inside the vehicle.
Date: None provided

chara 19

19. Mixed group,with driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Starkholmes, Matlock.
Location: Outside the Bath Terrace Hotel. Note the cyclists logo on the wall of the hotel.
Description: Charabanc has one door for the driver on this side. There are flyers stuck to the two back windows. The one closest to the back cannot be read, but the other read Dean -- Scotland. Probably made by Maudslay of Coventry.
Date: None provided.

chara 20

20. Large group, mostly men, with driver.

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Starkholmes, Matlock.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side. The Royal Hotel is the large building above the roadway.
Description: Charabanc has six doors on the passenger side. Vehicle shows the logo of Tiggy.
Date: Has pencil date of 7th July 1923.

chara 21

21. A mixed group of men, women and children were taken to Matlock Bath by their driver - the gentleman in the white coat.

Photographer: C. H. Gill, Smedley St. W., Matlock.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Speed 12 M.P.H. is written on the bodywork.
Date: None provided.

chara 22

22. Three men and eleven women. The driver is sitting on the running board.

Photographer: Unknown
Location: Not known.
Description: Charabanc with only one door on the driver's side.
Date: None provided.

chara 23

23. An all male party of twenty-seven, with the vehicle's driver. Note the gas lamps behind the charabanc.

Photographer: Unknown
Location: Grand Pavilion, just inside one of the entrance ways to the car park.
Description: Five opening doors on the passenger side. The tyres are solid. Another vehicle seems to be waiting behind this.
Date: None provided.

chara 24

24. There are twenty-two people plus a baby in this picture.

Photographer: Unknown
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Five passenger doors on this side of the charabanc. The vehicle has a company logo on the side, but it is not clear.
Date: None provided.

chara 25

25. Group of 21 women and girls, a teenage boy and a young boy tightly wrapped in a shawl sitting with his mother near the back, plus the driver. The lady sitting next to the driver, with a feather in her hat, is Sue Toms' grandmother who was on a trip from either Walsall or Wolverhampton. It is possible that the group had travelled by train and hired the charabanc from a Matlock or Matlock Bath firm

Photographer: Edgar Wright, Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath.
Location: Grand Pavilion, North Side.
Description: Charabanc with six doors on the passenger side. There are pneumatic tyres at the front of the vehicle. The number plate reads R108[?]. This shows that the vehicle was registered in Derbyshire.
Date: About 1925.

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Charabanc outside Fish Pond Hotel, about 1910



Charabancs in South Parade, 1920s



Furniss charabanc



Matlock Bath Buses
1912-33



Matlock Bath Buses
1912-33 (Part 2)



Photographs 1-24 in the collection of and provided by and © Glynn Waite. Photograph 25 has been sent by Sue Toms.
Written and researched by and © Ann Andrews. Intended for personal use only

References:

[1] Recollections of the late Mr. Frank Clay, from his private papers and notes owned by the web mistress, some of which were written in 1998 and are still within copyright.
[2] "Tamworth Herald", 17 September 1921. Their annual outing had been on the previous on Saturday. "The weather was ideal, and .the ride was enjoyed by all. ... the hill and dale scenery beyond [Derby] being greatly admired". They arrived in Matlock Bath at 5p.m. and had tea.
[3] "Nottingham Evening Post", 4 July 1927.
[4] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 25 July 1929. Old Folks' Treat. They enjoyed a "substantial tea" at the Town Hall, were taken round the parks and other places, and were given fruit and tobacco on their departure.
[5] "Nottingham Evening Post", 31 July 1924.
[6] "Nottingham Evening Post", 4 May 1921.
[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 6 Aug 1923. An uninsured vehicle with visitors to Matlock Bath and Crich Stand from Sutton in Ashfield and driven by Mr. George White, one of the owners (Messrs. White of South Normanton), was hit by another vehicle and passengers were thrown into a field. Some women fainted.
[8] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 14 July 1925. The driver didn't allow enough space whilst passing a tramway standard and the charabanc's hood was ripped away from body, the back seat was displaced and occupants thrown into road. Fortunately, people were only bruised and after the vehicle was repaired, they continued on their journey.
[9] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 8 April 1931. The unknown correspondent used the initials M. B. R. He added that the railway company's concession would be a great help to Matlock Bath as parking facilities were often taxed to the utmost.