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Cromford : Black Rocks (Stonnis), nineteenth century CDV

A nineteenth century carte de visite of Black Rocks, possibly dating from about 1875. Two men are admiring the view. From this angle the rock they are sitting on is reminiscent of a large smiling whale. However, in 1857 and unnamed local journalist submitted this witty piece to a Derbyshire newspaper and suggested something slightly different:

"CURIOUS PROFILE.- At the distance of about two miles from Matlock, on the road between Cromford and Wirksworth, stands the picturesque rock of Stonnis. It has always been an object of interest as the principal feature in a scene of exquisite natural beauty. Latterly it has attracted more than ordinary attention, from the discovery that the craggy outline of the mountain, when viewed from a particular spot on Cromford Moor, presents a most correct profile of the great moralist, Mr Punch. So perfect is the likeness that the spectator generally bursts into an involuntary laugh on recognizing it. This profile, though not a sun-picture, is drawn by nature's own hand and probably existed some thousand years ago, and will most likely exist when our witty contemporary, if he is not immortal, shall himself be no more. Perhaps, the great teacher, when apprized of the circumstance, will tell us that nature long ago foretold his future eminence by carving this bust or profile in his honour. - So mote it be"[1].

So, Mr Punch or a whale - it is up to you to decide what description best suits the photograph.

The men on the rocks, who are enjoying the view.
Note their suits and hats, normal wear at that time.

Edward Bradbury, who used the pen name of Strephon, wrote about a great deal about Derbyshire in both newspapers and books. In 1880 he travelled on the footplate of various engines along the eight sections of the Cromford and High Peak Railway from Whaley Bridge to Cromford. "We pass directly under Black Rocks and see through the green veil of the sunlit wood that vision of Matlock, with the deep crags of the Derwent valley, which is like a piece of sublime theatrical scene painting from a romantic opera"[2].

In another of his articles, this time in 1884, he stood at the foot of Stonnis "a group of piled up embattled crags so ponderous and sombre that they have been called the Black Rocks. ... The topmost blocks projecting over the precipice look like threatening cannon. The highest of them are pointed out the furthest ; and one monster mass of iron-like stone, a natural 100 ton gun, broad at the breach, and narrow towards its muzzle, aims across the land, as if the tall pine gunners standing behind had orders to fire on the battlements of Riber Castle on the opposite hill[3]".

Goodness, this is very different from Mr. Punch or a smiling whale. The Victorians always did like melodrama.

On the back. No publisher.


Cromford is mentioned in the following on-site transcripts:

Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811, Parishes C-D, which has more about the village.
Cromford, Derbyshire: Trade Directories - nineteenth century
Kelly's 1891 Directory, Cromford (this is with many other transcripts of this particular directory)

The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire - Charters, Documents & Deeds : Places C - E, mentions Cromford

"Matlock Bath, Black Rocks" [Printed title on Reverse]. CDV.No publisher. Unused, but possibly about 1875.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 22 May 1857 (Under Miscellaneous).

[2] "Derbyshire Times",18 September 1880.

[3] "Derbyshire Times", 4 June 1884.

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View from the Black Rocks, overlooking Cromford Cotton Mills (the first built in England), Willersley Castle, Heights of Abraham and the High Tor