Ebenezer Rhodes wasn't particularly impressed when he first visited
the Via Gellia about 177 years ago but he had clearly changed
his mind when he went there for the second time. He described
the experience in "Peak Scenery":
"In whatever direction we looked, the country was beautiful.
The road we had passed was marked by a continued range of eminences,
the outlines of which played into, and were blended with each
other, in pleasing and almost endless variety".
Rhodes went on to say that the "high sloping acclivities,
chiefly covered with hazels, and sparingly sprinkled with dwarf
oak and ash, mark each side of the road".
He also mentioned that the Via Gellia was so named because of Philip
Gell, the owner of Hopton Hall at that time.
Here are three pretty views of Rider Point; in 1894 this picturesque
spot was described as being near the head of the Via Gellia.
Ible Wood covers the hillside behind the
building; Griffe Grange Valley goes off to the left whilst
the Via Gellia is off to the right. Several roads meet here and
it was an ideal place for a toll bar in days gone by. Rider Point
is at what is today the junction of Via Gellia Road (the A5012)
and New Road, Middleton (the B2503) with the road to Hopton also
part of the road system; the junction is known as Five Lanes End,
though only four lanes are there today.
The people standing outside the toll gate cottage were members
of the Bainbridge family; Thomas and Emma (nee Wagstaff) Bainbridge
lived in the four roomed cottage for most of their married life.
They were married in Brassington on 7 Feb 1860.
In 1861 William Handley and his family lived at "Hipley Toll
Bar"; Thomas, Emma and their young daughters Ann and
Esther lived in the next property. The Bainbridges were shown living
at Rider Point (Ryder Point, Rider Point Gate and Via Gellia House)
in all the following census returns, though their surname was sometimes,
confusingly, recorded as Bembridge.
By 1901 Thomas "Bembridge" was described as a road maker,
aged 70, but at various times before then he had also been employed
as a Gamekeeper and had begun his working life as a Lead Miner.
Emma died in Q4 1903, aged 62, whilst Thomas lived for a further
eight years and died on 3 September 1911, aged 81. Their unmarried
daughter Lily Matilda Bainbridge was living at home and acted as
Thomas's housekeeper after Emma died.
She married Walter H Phillips in 1912.
The largish wooden building on the left does not show up on the
1880 Ordnance Survey map, but had been built by 1899. This was
possibly where the Bainbridge's served refreshments for passing
visitors but might
have been somewhere for the horse and carriage.
Whilst the two cards were posted in 1906 and 1905 respectively,
they undoubtedly were taken before then, probably whilst Emma Bainbridge
was alive. The pictures were taken a year or so apart as the small
tree outside had grown slightly before the second photograph was
taken. Both postcards had a side strip;
the strip was designed for a very short message and the other side
of the card was for the address only. The side strip disappeared
from cards around 1902.
The second card (below) shows a closer view of the house. Almost
all of the road sign is readable. The left hand arm points to Newhaven,
Buxton & Bakewell, whereas the right hand arm points towards
Middleton & Wirksworth. The arm just behind it indicates the
road to Cromford & Matlock Bath. The only part that can't be
read is the arm pointing straight towards the camera. Of the two
gentlemen on the left, the one standing beside the horse and trap
is wearing what seems to be a policeman's uniform.
The pretty cottage was demolished over sixty years ago and the
signpost has gone; all that remains to mark the spot is a collection
of modern street furniture. It is difficult to know exactly when
the cottage was taken down but the last date we have of pictures
of the cottage at Rider Point is 1919/20 and
the last OS map where it is clearly drawn dates from 1922.
Below is a lovely water colour painting of the house by S. T. Wardle.
The picture was taken to New Zealand by Audrey Constance Ward when
she and her young husband Richard emigrated in 1919. Perhaps it
was a memento of home, or a memory of an outing to the Via Gellia.
Audrey had lived at Awsworth in Nottinghamshire where her father,
Richard Place, was the headmaster of an elementary school.