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Matlock Bath: Group outside Findern House, Artists' Corner, 1939
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Percy Rowbottom, who May worked for when she was younger

May in a pantomime, 1941

Artists' Corner

The group photographed outside Findern House in about 1939 are members of the Kirkland and Knight families. They lived next door to each other in the row of three-storey properties. The Kirklands ran the Artists' Corner Café and provided bed and breakfast accommodation, with apartments also to let. On the house wall to the right of the door is a sign for a "Lavatory". There were no public conveniences in this part of the Dale so, for a small fee, they would allow members of the public to use their facilities.

Frederick W Kirkland, a master plumber and painter by trade, is on the left[1]. During the Second World War he became an APR warden[2]. His wife Lilian May (nee Knight) is standing next to him and Sarah Jane Knight, May's mother, is framed by the doorway. William Reginald Kirkland, Fred and May's teenage son (born December 1926), is on the right. Fred Kirkland was born with the surname Richards[3], and was still using the name when he married May at Holy Trinity in 1922 but afterwards he assumed the name Kirkland.

By this time (1939) Sarah Jane Knight and her husband William James were living in the house on the right - at Denstone, Artists Corner[1]. You can just see the front door of their home. May was their eldest daughter[4]. The Knights had moved to Matlock Bath about 1904/05 and lived in one of the cottages below Orchard Road[5] but later moved to Devonshire Terrace on Brunswood Road[6]. William James Knight was a local postman[5], regularly driving the mail cart to Lea and Holloway, but enlisted into the Bedfordshires in WW1[6], a regiment he had served with before[7]. So Sarah Jane had to cope alone with her own grief and the distress of her children when the eldest of the couple's seven children, William Ernest, died in the First World War[8]. The Knights kept a boarding house on North Parade post war before moving to Artists' Corner[9]. William James had retired in 1933[7], passing away in 1954. Sarah Jane died the following year, aged 83[10]. May was 94 years old when she died in 1994.

The Wilson family lived to the right of the Knights[1], in the shop with the flat roof (not shown here), and their daughter Ivy was a similar age to William Reginald Kirkland so would have known him well. She provides an insight into what life was like for children living in the Dale in the 1930s. "I lived on Artists' Corner and saw many artists painting or sketching. My favourite roaming place was Masson up past St John's Church up to the Heights of Abraham. I spent most of my childhood up there"[11].

On the left, where the little boy has paused in the doorway, was Mr. Carding's General Shop. John Thomas Carding was employed as a road labourer so his wife Emma would have run the business, something she had then been doing for over thirty years[12]. The Cardings seem to have traded in things for tourists including postcards, ices and bottles of drink (the crates are on the far left of the picture) as well as groceries. They also advertised Lyons Tea and would have served this on trays that people would carry onto the grassy area next to the river Derwent. In 1939 Emma Carding was being helped by her daughter Blanche, who had been tragically widowed just two weeks after her marriage some seven years before[13].

Mr Knight attended funeral of fellow postman in 1912 - Matlock Bath & Scarthin Newspaper Cuttings, 1912 ("the late W. Hardy").

Matlock & Matlock Bath Photographers.
One of the Knights' daughters married Edgar Wright, who took many photos of charabancs in the 1920s.

Enlargement of the family photograph.

Photographer unknown but image in the collection of, provided by and © Kenneth Smith.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to information elsewhere on this website):

[1] From the 1939 Register, available on FindMyPast.

[2] Starkholmes ARP Wardens, about 1940 discusses the role of these wardens.

[3] Fred Kirkland (formerly Richards) was born in May 1899. He was living with grandparents Luke (d.1904) and Jane Richards in the 1901 census but by 1911 was with his parents William and Ethel Kirkland at Masson View on Wilmot Street. He was still Richards, but also shown as William's son. William was also a plumber so possibly trained Fred.

[4] In 1901 Sarah Jane Knight was living with her two eldest children, William and May, and was described as an Army Reservist's wife.

[5] 1911 census, available on FindMyPast.

[6] "Derbyshire Courier", 9 January 1915.

[7] William James Knight had first enlisted in the Bedfordshires in 1890 (from Army records), was drafted to India in 1894 but joined the post office on his return in 1898. He rejoined the Army in 1899 and served in the Boer War ("Derbyshire Times", 27 May 1933). The DT from 1933 says he served with the Notts and Derbys Regiment in WW1. He was town postman at Matlock from 1918 until his retirement.

[8] William Ernest Knight is amongst the names on Matlock Bath's war memorial.

[9] William James Knight advertised a boarding house on North Parade in Kelly's Directories between 1922 and 1932.

[10] Some of the family are commemorated at Holy Trinity church. When William Reginald died in 1988 he was living on Mornington Rise.

[11] From correspondence with Mrs. Ivy Tunstall.

[12] John Thomas Carding was the son of Joseph and Blanche Carding and the family were living in Woodthorpe at the time of the 1881 census - see Strays. By the 1891 census John Thomas was living lived with an uncle in Starkholmes. He married Emma, daughter of Samuel Howitt, at St. Giles' on 31 Mar 1904. The couple were living above their shop, together with their daughter Blanche (born 1908), by 1911. John advertised in Kelly's Directory 1912 | Kelly's Directory 1916. He continued to advertise until his death in 1941.

[13] Blanche was still with her parents in 1939. She had married Joseph Lawrence in 1932 but he was killed in a fall at Hopton Wood Quarry just two weeks after their marriage ("Derbyshire Times", 10 December 1932) which must have been devastating for her. She remarried in 1846, this time to Ernest A Longbone and died in Hull in 1989. He mother pre-deceased her, passing away at Howden in Yorkshire in 1969.

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