|The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Derbyshire
|A selection of photographs, prints
and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
|Monsal Dale, the Bridges and River
One of the earliest descriptions of the Dale was written
by William Bray in the 1783 version of his "Sketch
of a Tour Into Derbyshire and Yorkshire":
"The descent from the point of view [i.e. from Monsal
Head] is steep and abrupt ; at the bottom stands a
farm house, in a most picturesque situation, shaded by
some trees, and just by is a rustic wooden bridge over
the stream, resting on some rocks, and forming a communication
with the opposite ground. The river [Wye] runs through
meadows mixed with a few corn fields, sometimes of a considerable
width, sometimes narrowed by banks ornamented with fine trees
; widening again it runs round a small island ; here is breaks
over rocks ; there it steals loftily along,
... A horseman may cross the water by the farm house, and
will find a track on his left, by which he may pass through
the little vale to Ashford".
The hamlet of Upperdale, possibly 1890s. CDV by William Potter.
The first three pictures of Monsal Dale on this page are CDVs
published by the Matlock Bath photographer William Potter,
probably in the 1890s. Images one and two are of the hamlet
of Upperdale and the very pretty rustic foot bridge over
the Wye, shown as below Monsal Dale Station on old maps and
connected to it by a track.
There was a ford crossing the Wye to the right of the bridge
and stepping stones can be seen in the river on its left.
A description of Upperdale was given in a Derby paper by "J.
W." in 1886, who had clearly arrived
at Monsal by train:
"How crisp and pure the air feels! How clean the country
looks after the recent rains. Below, nestling amid the trees
which shade the entrance to a natural opening in the gaunt
slopes which form the far sides of the valley is the picturesque
hamlet of Monsal, with the silvery Wye in front, forded by
the lane by which we are making our descent from the station,
and crossed by a fragile looking footbridge. Nor, as we near
it, is the old-world look entirely dispelled by the few match-box
looking refreshment shanties, erected for the delectation
of cheap trippers".
Whilst J. W. can't have thought of him or herself as a tripper,
visitors would arrive by train, in wagonettes or brakes and
later by charabanc, motor landaulettes or touring cars and
they needed to be catered for. Some of the "refreshment
are clearly visible both in the garden of the stone built farmhouse
(there is a sign on one of the buildings), on the hillside
behind it and possibly in the garden next door (where there
is another sign).
bridge would have been repaired from time to time and
in 1914 the Upperdale footbridge was found to be in a very
bad condition when it was inspected by the local Surveyor.
It was suggested that it would be a great advantage to the
district if a cart bridge could be erected instead though
later in the year the project seemed unlikely so the existing
bridge was repaired.
CDV of Netherdale Bridge. Two people are looking over the
far side of the bridge.
There is a sheepwash on the right hand side.
A footpath follows the river and connects Upperdale to the second
footbridge, Netherdale Bridge, which is closer to the railway
viaduct and below Monsal Head. There was also a ford crossing
close to Netherdale Bridge.
This picture of the footbridge over the
River Wye dates from about 1902 or so.
On the brow of
the hill (extreme right) are the properties at Monsal Head.
The valley at the beginning of the twentieth century (below)
is best summed up by J. B. Firth, writing in 1908:
"The undistinguished valley becomes, when viewed from
above, a thing of beauty. We see the narrow river as it really
is, with green strips of meadow fringing it on either side
and clean-cut banks. ... The only dwellings visible in the
vale are a large farmhouse midway, and a smaller one at our
feet with a tiny wooden bridge at its side set on stone piers".
Sneaths' early twentieth century postcard of the Monsal valley
shows Netherdale and the farm
mentioned by Firth in the foreground with Upperdale a little
further away. The scar on the
hillside caused by the railway cutting is less stark by
this time. Vegetation is taking
hold in the crevices in the limestone.
In the enlargement of Sneath's card (below) we can see
beyond the railway cutting to Monsal Dale station and the tunnel.
At the far end of the cutting is a narrow footbridge connecting
the Netherdale Bridge to the former Monsal Dale Spar Mine,
which you can see on the left, and joined the lane/trackway
from the mine down to Monsal Dale station that went under the
railway and then down to Upperdale. Old OS maps show both an
old lead mine and the larger lead and spar mine on Putwell
Hill. The mine
is now disused, but the path and lane still survive.
In the corner of the field where the text
is printed on the image is what looks like a large lorry perhaps
with a trailer of some kind. Maybe for hay?
Both bridges across the River Wye seems to been repaired, rebuilt or altered
several times in the twentieth century. There are postcards dating
from the 1930s that describe the "new" bridge
at Upperdale and it was structurally different from the bridge of the
early 1900s although it had still wooden sides. The new bridge was
far more substantial, both wider and better supported - this time by
four stone piers which presumably were designed to take the weight
The family photograph of Netherdale Bridge above shows the attractive
wooden structure shown on the earlier images had been replaced by a
more utilitarian metal bridge. Not so attractive, but requiring less
This second family photo shows the the weir in Monsal Dale
below Fin Wood which is shown on old OS maps as a weir, though later
images (i.e. postcards) describe it as a waterfall. It is reached by
crossing the Netherdale bridge and walking under the railway arches.
Images 1, 2 and 3. Photographs by W. Potter, Matlock. Copyright. Published
as Cartes de Visite. The CDV is an albumen print mounted on a small card
measuring 6.3cm x 10.4cm.
4. Postcard of "Monsal Dale". No publisher. Posted 27 May 1904.
Franked twice, firstly in Ashford, which is on the stamp, and the second
time in Bakewell some one and a half hours later. Part of the message
says "it is very wet".
5 and 6. Photographs taken by Frank Clay.
7 and 8. Postcard "Monsal Dale, Derbyshire". Published by
R. Sneath, 16 Change Alley, Sheffield, "Peak" Series Real Photos.
Images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
 Bray, William (1783) "Sketch of
a Tour Into Derbyshire and Yorkshire" (Second Edition) London,
Printed for B. White at Horace's Head, in Fleet-Street. The first edition
was published in 1778.
 Monsal Dale Station can be seen on all County
Series OS maps until 1955. It was later demolished.
Advertiser and Journal", 20 August 1886 (from Less Known Derbyshire,
by J. W.).
 "Derbyshire Courier", 7
March 1914, suggested New Bridge for Monsal Dale. "Derbyshire
Courier", 28 July 1914, Monsal Dale's Bridge. In 1882, at a
meeting of the Bakewell Sanitary Authority, the attention of the members
was drawn to the dangerous state of the footbridge over the river Wye
near Monsal Dale, in consequence of the decayed state some of some the
foot-boards ("Derbyshire Courier", 25 November 1882).
The following year it still required attention as, although it had been
temporarily repaired, it remained in a dangerous condition ("Derbyshire
Times", 29 September 1883).
 Firth, J.B. (1908) "Highways and
Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London.
 "Derbyshire Times", 12
July 1924. The cart bridge suggested in 1914had been built at some stage
as the Surveyor quoted the County Council, saying there wasn't a great
deal of traffic over it and it was unlikely they would pay all the repairs
of for reconstruction.