This photograph, taken around the time of the outbreak of the second
war and may even have been the last staff ball ever to take place
at the hydro. It has been contributed by Bubbles, whose mother
worked at Rockside as a young woman and served "silver
She's the young lady in front of the chef. Silver service was
and is a method of serving food to guests as they are seated
at a table. Briefly, the waiter/waitress has to serve
from the left and take away from the right, and tables are "set" or
laid following strict guidelines. If a waiter/waitress brings
a plate of food from the kitchen and puts it down in front
of the guest this is not silver service.
Similar events took place at other hydros and
would have been very popular with the staff as, for once, the tables
were turned and the hydro's guests served the staff. For example,
on the night of 3 Jan 1935 Matlock's largest hydros - Smedley's,
Rockside, and Chatsworth - held their staff balls, and
the guests totalled about 1,000 people. "Topsy-turvydom," as
it was apparently known locally, was by then an old-established
custom, having originated years before when the hydros' visitors
decided to take the place of staff for one night in appreciation
of the service they received. They became porters and waitresses.
This was a real treat for people who mostly worked a seven day
week. Nevertheless, some considered that being in service was a
good job and the workers were "well off".
It wasn't just the hydro staff who took pleasure in these occasions.
The balls were also enjoyed by the visitors to Rockside and elsewhere
and was an event they also looked forward to. One unnamed guest,
who had thoroughly enjoyed the much earlier 1909 Christmas celebrations,
wrote that hoped that he would repeat the pleasure of spending
Christmas with the Misses and Mr. Goodwin at Rockside. "For
this occasion visitors don the cap and apron" to serve both
the invited guests and the staff. He or she said they were all
amateurs, but that was obviously part of the fun.
Enlargement of left hand side.
Enlargement of right hand side.
There is more about Rockside