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Matlock Bath, Derbyshire
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High Tor, Matlock Dale High Tor, the face in the rock

Matlock Bath has often been described as the Switzerland of England. The most famous and enduring image of the village is undoubtedly the view of High Tor which "like some huge bastion, lift[s] its grey head to the sky"[1]. A nineteenth century writer said of the Tor: "If there be any object that possesses a paramount interest over every other in this enchanting dale, that object is High Tor. Matlock [Bath] is never mentioned
but the High Tor is associated with the idea"[2].

The village lies in a steep sided valley and is bounded by the River Derwent to the east, with the limestone crags of High Tor and Cat Tor, originally known as Wild Cat Tor, rising almost vertically from the river's edge in places as the river cuts its way through the limestone rocks. There is little on the east bank of the river apart from the Lovers' Walks; almost the only development has been the former colour and gas works sites, the railway line where it surfaces from the tunnels and a pathway up to Starkholmes. The houses, shops and other buildings are all on the west bank of the river, on the slopes that lead to the mighty Masson which rises to over 1,000 feet above sea level.

Matlock Bath's history is discussed below under the following sub headings:


Matlock Bath's Development

In early times there were few inhabitants in what we now know as Matlock Bath because it was almost inaccessible. The village did not really develop until a road was cut through the rocks at Scarthin Nick at the south end of Matlock Bath and the bridle path from Matlock Bridge was widened.
The old parish of Matlock, geographical location, landowners and population
Nineteenth century expansion, population & councils
Scarthin Nick (below)

However, the first development of any major importance followed the discovery of the medicinal springs. "The waters were first applied for medicinal purposes about the latter end of the seventeenth century. The old bath, which was of wood, lined with lead, was made in 1698[3]. It was this bath that gave the place its name and visitors came to use the bath and to drink the waters.

William Adam, writing in 1838, reminds us that
"it may appear to some unimportant and perhaps trifling, by dwelling so much on this house [i.e. The Old Bath], but it must be remembered that on its site the first spring was discovered, to which circumstance Matlock Bath owes its existence"[4].

The village was an extremely fashionable and prosperous spa in the nineteenth century, and was visited by the then Princess, later Queen, Victoria on 22 Oct 1832 when she was a guest of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth House[5].
Water Cures

Visitors came to enjoy the spectacular scenery as well as for the water cure. There were plenty of books to tempt the prospective tourist about the village, which had become really popular during the Napoleonic Wars when foreign travel was difficult for the wealthy. Matlock Bath responded to the demand.
Several early Matlock & Matlock Bath Guides are on this website
Bemrose's Guide: Walks and Places of Interest, about 1869.

Matlock Bath was part of the parish of Matlock until 1842 and the history of the two places is intertwined. Old books and journals often talked of Matlock, when the author was actually describing Matlock Bath.

Famous 19th Century People Who Wrote About or Visited Matlock Bath

  • Jane Austen, who mentions Matlock in "Pride and Prejudice" Vol. II, Chapter I
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning, as a girl
  • Lord George Byron
  • Erasmus Darwin
  • Charles Dickens
  • John Ruskin (see Matlock Bath: New Bath Hotel Stereoview).
  • Sir Walter Scott
  • Mary Shelley - see right
  • John Wesley preached at Matlock Bath in 1761.
In her Gothic novel "Frankenstein" Mary Shelley talks of Matlock,
although she was actually describing Matlock Bath.:
"We ... proceeded to Matlock, which was our next place of rest.
The country in the neighbourhood of this village resembles
Switzerland; but everything is on a lower scale ... We visited
the wondrous cave, and the little cabinets of natural history
Mary Shelley (1994) "Frankenstein" (1818 Text) World Classics,
Oxford University Press, Oxford (Vol. III, Chapter II).

In 1775, Anna Seward had written a poem about the Derwent - her "favourite river"[6]. Seward wasn't the only person to write poetry about Matlock Bath as after Elizabeth Barrett's visit she, too, wrote about her experience.
Matlock & Matlock Bath: Inspiration of Poets.

Lists Through the Centuries: Arrivals at Matlock Bath, 1820-1850. European Royal families and nobility, British politicians, academics, clergy, members of the British aristocracy and upper and middle classes of society.

There were also Royal Visitors

  • 22 Oct 1832 - Princess (later Queen) Victoria and her mother, Victoria Duchess of Kent.
  • 31 July 1840 - Dowager Queen Adelaide, widow of King William IV
  • 23 September 1856 - ex-Queen Marie Amelie of France
  • August 1899 - Princess Mary, Duchess of York - later Queen Mary, wife of the future King George V
  • 10 November 1815 - Archdukes John and Louis of Austria
  • 5 February 1816 - Duke Nicholas of Russia, later Emperor
  • 23 July 1818 - Imperial Grand Duke Michael of Russia (see Moore's "Picturesque Excursions" for a short description of the visit, scroll down the page)
  • 10 August 1871 - Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil and the Empress (see Matlock Bath: New Bath Hotel Stereoview).
Mr. James Walter Wheatcroft presented an address and a "most cordial welcome" to the Emperor of Brazil in the name of the inhabitants and of their pleasure at the royal visit. The Emperor replied, through Baron de Bon Retiro:

"New Bath Hotel, August 9th, 1871.
Gentlemen, - The Emperor and Empress of the Brazils wish to express their thanks to the inhabitants of Matlock Bath for the kind welcome they have received.
Baron de Bon Retiro, Chamberlain"
("Derbyshire Times", 12 August 1871)

Hotels in Matlock Bath in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century

Ebenezer Rhodes, who explored most of Derbyshire on foot, enjoyed visiting Matlock Bath in the early part of the nineteenth century. There is a map of his routes elsewhere on the site. His description of the hotels at that time is on the right.

He also mentioned the discovery of the skeleton of a moose deer, found when the foundations for the New Bath's stables (then Saxton's) were being dug. This was taken to the British Museum (see Wolley Manuscripts Vol.6669 ff.220-223). The antlers were mentioned in a footnote in "Gem of the Peak".

At the end of the nineteenth century Matlock Bath's burgeoning popularity amongst all levels of society is reflected in the figures for hotel and lodging house accommodation in 1891, as advertised in Kelly's Directory[1891]. By then the number of hotels had increased from the three described by Rhodes to nine, plus one hydropathy establishment. At that time Thomas Tyack was the proprietor of the New Bath and Royal Hotels, and Mrs. Sarah Evans was at the Temple Hotel, which was "originally built as a lodging house or appendage to the Old Bath"[7].
See Tyack's advertisement below

The Royal Hotel had been built on the site of Old Bath Hotel, with the Old Pavilion set in 16 acres of woodland on the hillside behind. In addition to the hotels there were some thirty-two lodging houses! Refreshments of various kinds could be bought at a the numerous refreshment rooms and restaurants. Gardens, too, were used as places to serve refreshments, especially those on the climb up to the Heights.

Rhodes visited the village about 1824 and stayed at Varley's Hotel. He wrote of the three inns that were in Matlock Bath at the time, saying all were excellent:
"The principal one [hotel] is denominated the Old Bath, and it is a spacious building capable of affording accommodations to nearly one hundred visitors. At this inn there is an excellent assembly room, lighted with elegant glass chandeliers; and a hot and cold bath are included within the establishment." Saxton's Hotel was "a commodious house pleasantly situated on rising ground, nearly opposite Wild Cat Tor".

The Temple was "the principal lodging house"' at that time, kept by a Mrs. Evans; it became an hotel shortly after this date. Rhodes deemed it to be excellent and "one of the most delightful residences in the place".
"Peak Scenery" by E. Rhodes,
pub. London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster Row (1824)

Old Bath Hotel Engraving, 1776
Cumming's Old Bath Hotel
Matlock Bath: Temple Hotel
There's a lovely old coloured postcard onsite showing the Old Pavilion and Royal Hotel
Walker's Bath Terrace Hotel

The 1892 postcard on the right shows the New Bath Hotel (Saxton's and later Tyack's), the Bath Terrace Hotel and Holy Trinity Church with the Royal Hotel behind it, at the southern end of Matlock Bath. The Bath Terrace became part of the New Bath and was eventually demolished.

The backs of the houses of Woodland Terrace and the roof of what was Matlock Bath School at the time can be seen in the foreground. Clifton Road winds its way up the hillside and the domed Royal Pavilion, with its 228 feet long terrace, can also be seen. It was opened by Lord Edward Cavendish in 1884.

A band performed twice daily here throughout the season. The building was made of glass and had entrances on both Clifton Road and Temple Walk. From the latter there was a very long and wide straight drive through planted woods. It was re-named the Palais Royal in 1923.

The whole valley was quite densely wooded and the Derwent Gardens Pleasure Grounds beside the River Derwent are only just visible on the bottom right hand side.

Nineteenth Century Postcard of Matlock Bath from Cat Tor, showing the Royal Pavilion or Palais Royal as well as the New Bath Hotel, Holy Trinity Church and Clifton Road.
Image (c) Ann Andrews
Matlock Bath from Cat Tor.
Published by Valentines in 1892, No.17465.

There's a coloured version of Matlock Bath from Cat Tor elsewhere on this website.
About Holy Trinity Church
Matlock Bath School
Old Pavilion

Advertisement for the New Bath Hotel when it was run by Thomas Tyack.
               From : Black's Guide to Derbyshire. Image (c) Ann Andrews

On the left is an advertisement for the New Bath Hotel, dating from 1888 when it was run by Thomas Tyack[1].

Eighteenth Century Lists: Statute Labour for Mending the Highways, 1761. Amongst the people listed was Isaac North, the first proprietor of the New Bath.

There are number of pictures of the New Bath on this site. For example:

New Bath Hotel Booklet, about 1900
New Bath Hotel - the Outdoor Swimming Pool

New Bath Hotel (1)
Includes an engraving from Mr. Tyack's time

More on the Visitors

Matlock Bath has attracted both painters and writers over the centuries and Artists Corner, opposite High Tor in Matlock Dale (below), was a favourite haunt of the former. Many writers have described the spectacular scenery in glowing terms.

Not every visitor painted a favourable picture of the scene they encountered, though. By 1908, J. B. Firth was less flattering about the village as he describes Matlock Bath as "a tripper's paradise" and he clearly disliked some of the village's less attractive sites, such as a bottling plant and paint works in the Dale[6]. Quite a contrast with those earlier guides whose authors loved all they saw.

Whilst he was still extremely appreciative of the scenery, Firth describes the noise - "the bawling of the drivers of brakes and waggonettes, the attentions of the pushing salesmen" - and the Switchback Railway, that was for over 40 years on the river bank, as "a wanton outrage to one of the fairest scenes in England"[6]. The Switchback Railway he mentioned was in the Derwent Pleasure Gardens, formerly Orchard Holme or Orchard Close. By the 1950's there was a miniature railway for children in the Derwent Gardens and a paddling pool was nearby, behind the 'New' or Grand Pavilion near the landing stage. It was there in the early 1920s and possibly before.


Matlock Bath: Derwent Gardens - The Switchback, (1) Rise & Fall. The story of Matlock Bath's Switchback Railway, from the beginning to its demise
Matlock Bath: Derwent Gardens - The Switchback, (2) Adrenalin Rush
Miniature railway in the Derwent Gardens

This second pavilion, the Grand Pavilion, is shown on the old pre war postcard on the right. It was built opposite the Fishpond Hotel in 1910, at a cost of £10,000 and was called the Kursaal, though the name was changed during the first war. Clearly designed to impress, it was built of brick "with a large central dome and two smaller domes; it contains a theatre, a large ground floor room and a pump room. The council offices are situated in one wing of the building"[1912]. The Pump Room is only partially visible on the right of the picture.

The Fish Pond is in the centre of the picture. In the 1920s the Pavilion's car park would have been packed with day trippers, who arrived by charabanc. They always paused to have their photo taken, either beside the vehicle or in it. The pictures provide a unique view of the charas that were the favoured mode of transport at the time.
Visitors to Matlock Bath - Travelling by Motor Charabanc

The Pavilion was the venue for cultural events such as the Musical Festival and dances were also held in the ballroom. The Local Council had offices in one wing and a branch of the library was housed here in the 1950's and 60's. It is now the home of the Mining Museum and Tourist Information Centre.

Both before and after the Second World War cycle clubs, whose members lived in towns such as Derby, used to visit Matlock Bath each weekend. The cyclists would often enjoy a hearty egg and chip tea in one or other of the local cafés before returning home. A group of cyclists, with their cycles parked on the pavement edge, can be see relaxing on the wooden seats beside the bus stop in the photograph of the Pavilion.

Postcard of Matlock Bath's Grand Pavilion. Image (c) Ann Andrews
Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath (see bigger image)

The Fish Pond
One of several postcards of the pond
Fish Pond Stables, 1907
They were demolished to make way for the Grand Pavilion
The Grand Pavilion (Kursaal), 1910-12
The Grand Pavilion (The Kursaal), 1915
People continued to visit Matlock Bath during the First War
Grand Pavilion and Spar Shop

The picture (right), another of a series of cards in my personal collection, shows an omnibus belonging to William Furniss Jnr. on South Parade, outside the Fish Pond Hotel. It depicts a quiet scene as South Parade was almost deserted. However, on Bank Holidays and summer weekends the pavements and roads and hillsides were teeming with tourists.

Some of the houses in the village are reminiscent of Swiss chalets.

South Parade & the Pitchings, a drawing
Also describes Matlock Bath in the summer
Matlock Bath Today (3)
Taken from a similar position, photographed by Martin Rowley. Plus more info
Victoria Tower, Heights of Abraham, 1907-25
Just visible on the skyline of the picture on the right is the Victoria Prospect Tower in the grounds of the Heights of Abraham.

Valentine's postcard, No. 88725, featuring the bus of
W. H. Furniss outside the Fish Pond Hotel
and registered in 1923.
See: Furniss's Garage, Crown Square

The Main Attractions

The River Derwent, seen on the right from close to the Pavilion, has always been one of the village's greatest assets. This view, probably photographed in the late 1940s, includes several old riverside buildings that were to disappear when the A6 was widened.

The river appears in many of the pictures of the village. See just some of them in the Matlock Bath 20th & 21st century Images
River Derwent, from north to south

Photochrom postcard, No.70579, "Matlock Bath, The River"

Jewitt's description of the Heights of Abraham, quoted on the right, is not an exaggeration. The view from the summit today, which can now be reached by cable car, is truly wonderful. Those who still chose to visit the Heights as pedestrians, just as the Victorians did, are able to walk up through the delightful gardens. It is well worth the effort if you are fit.

Matlock Bath's "Heights" are believed to be named after the Heights of Abraham in Quebec, Canada, which British troops scaled in 1759 and where their commander, General James Wolfe, was killed. The Heights in Matlock Bath first became a tourist attraction in the late Georgian era.

Although the lower slopes have been developed, there are few buildings higher up and the only residence is the Upper Tower. In the picture of South Parade with the bus in it, immediately above this section, the Upper Tower can be seen in the grounds of the Heights; it is the white building amongst the trees at the top, just left of centre. This was the home of Samuel Sprinthall who was at the Heights of Abraham for many years and was the great grandfather of the late Peter Aspey. Peter also lived there and he describes life at the Heights, its ownership and history. Peter includes a postcard dating from 1870 and describes both the Great Rutland and Great Masson Caverns in considerable detail (see link on the right).

The Petrifying Wells also attracted tourists. In 1888, Black's "Guide" recorded that "a penny is the ordinary charge for admission to these wells"[1].
The onsite transcripts of "Gem of the Peak" have more on petrifying wells and the numerous caverns

The public promenade opened in 1874, along the riverbank opposite North Parade[3]. It was extended in 1887. People were entertained on 'The Prom' and there were regular performances from the Band Stand on the far side of the river. As well as local bands, entertainers would return to Matlock Bath year after year to please the crowds.

On the same side of the river as the [old] Band Stand are the Lovers' Walks, possibly the earliest pleasure grounds in Britain and now Grade II* listed, with footpaths both on the river's edge and up through the woodland to the summit. The Jubilee Bridge has spanned the River Derwent for over a century; it originally connected the Promenade across to the Lovers' Walks; sadly the Promenade disappeared when the A6 was widened. The iron bridge was put in place on 14 June, 1887 in time for the Jubilee of Queen Victoria eight days later. A second footbridge, connecting the Lovers' Walks to the Derwent Gardens a little further down river, was finally erected in 1969.

The Fountain Baths were on the opposite side of the road from the promenade; the building is now the Matlock Bath Aquarium. But when it was first built there were several private baths and a large swimming bath supplied by spring water which had a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

The former proprietors of these attractions were listed in various directories. Those in 1891 included W. E. Howe at the Fountain Baths & Assembly Room, Samuel Sprinthall who was the lessee of the Heights of Abraham (already mentioned above), William B. Hunt at Matlock Bath Skating Rink, Frederick Downs, who was the Manager of the Pavilion, & Gardens and Robert Hall who was listed as Secretary for Matlock & High Tor Recreation Grounds Co. Ltd. Cavern proprietors were Job Hall Cardin at High Tor Grotto in The Dale, Jacob Rains and William Smedley[1891].

Fountain Baths, Swimmers From Riber School. Boys from Mr. Chippett's School attended swimming lessons at the baths

Five years later little had changed, although Mrs Howe was at the Fountain Baths and the Skating Rink was not listed. However, by 1916 most of these concerns had changed hands: James Fearn was at the Fountain Baths, Robert Hall had taken over the High Tor Grotto and the Pavilion and gardens had become the property of the Royal Hotel. There was by then a Matlock Bath Improvements Society, based at Riversdale, and Thomas Coates was the Hon. Secretary.[1916]

Many visitors travelled to Matlock Bath by train, some coming from the large cities, after the railways were built.

Matlock Bath Station and High Tor
Matlock Bath station was built in the style of a Swiss chalet. It was extended in the 1890s. Includes photos of the station today.

"One of the greatest attractions of Matlock [Bath] is the wooded slopes called the Heights of Abraham, and the gigantic mountain Masson towering above it. ... On arriving at the summit the scene is truly grand and seems to strike the mind with awe ; the view from this point embraces five counties".
Jewitt, L., "Nooks and Corners of Derbyshire"

Matlock Bath Today (2)
General View from The Heights of Abraham, about 1914
Upper Tower, Heights of Abraham
Victoria Prospect Tower.
Two early twentieth century views
Living at the Heights of Abraham.
By the late Peter Aspey

Further details of the Heights of Abraham for those wishing to visit, either on foot or by the cable car, can be found on their website.
Heights of Abraham site

The Great Petrifying Well
Matlock Bath: North Parade, late 1870's (1)
The Promenade, Matlock Bath
Jubilee Bridge and Derwent, Matlock Bath
Lovers' Walks - part of the Arkwright estate until sold by them in 1927. The land was finally acquired by the Council in 1937.
Lovers' Walks and the Band Stand
Lover's Walks and River Derwent, Edwardian card
The Ferry and the River Derwent, 1905
One of several views of the old ferry - the only way people could reach the Lovers' Walks until the Jubilee Bridge was built

"Another truly delightful part of Matlock [Bath] is the Lovers' Walks, on the opposite side of the river from the village and Masson. These walks are entered from the ferry, and embrace nearly the whole of the eastern side of the dale".
Jewitt, L., "Nooks and Corners of Derbyshire"


Matlock Bath Venetian Nights
or Venetian Fete.

This is still an annual event.

Illuminations & Venetian
Fête,1950s & before
Decorated boats
  Other events that were held.
Matlock Bath Carnival
Miss Derbyshire Contest

Matlock Bath
Floral Fete
Matlock Bath
Musical Festival

How the Majority of the Residents Earned a Living in the Nineteenth Century

The tourist season was a short one and not everyone was involved in the tourist industry, so local people had to find other ways of making ends meet. There was a wide variety of employment available in Matlock Bath at the end of the nineteenth century, listed in Kelly's Directory.[1891]

In the Southern part, near Cromford, was Sir Richard Arkwright & Co.'s Masson Mill (a cotton thread mill) and Simons & Pickard had a paper mill there; James Shepherd of Derby Road was the manager.

Samuel Barnes made hosiery on North parade. Samuel Buxton & Son were builders, William and John Smedley were tufa stone merchants and George Drabble had premises at the Railway station as he was a timber merchant. Joseph Reeds was the managing director of Matlock Bath Gas Light & Coke Co. Limited.

In Matlock Dale were the Stevens Brothers who were barytes and colour manufacturers and Mrs. Mary Whittaker was the proprietress of Matlock Bath Aërated & Mineral Water Works.[1891]

In 1895 the barytes and colour works on Matlock Dale was owned by Edward Stanbridge Ginger[1895]. Four years later, the Via Gellia Colour Co. Ltd. had taken over the works[1899].

See Arkwright's Cotton Mill
Masson Mill and the Arkwrights were the largest employers in the district.
Matlock Bath: Midland Express Passing Through the Station An early twentieth century card of the station and the goods yard
Mrs. Mary Whittaker, Aërated Water Manufacturer
Matlock Bath's Glove Factory
During WW1 effort was made to provide winter employment for local people.

Also read about:
'Gloves' newspaper report in 1917 (scroll down to 22 Sept)
Lead Mining
Stone Quarrying

Matlock Dale

Although some think of Matlock Dale as beginning just past the railway bridge near the former Boat House pub, the bridge is not the parish boundary; this is a little further along, near the bottom of St. John's Road.

It is easy to get confused as the earlier writers referred to the whole length of the narrow valley, from the Boat House down to Scarthin Nick, as "the Dale", with a north entrance and a south entrance. The north end of the dale was described, for example, in 1840 by W. Adam in his guide "The Gem of the Peak"[7]. There were then very few properties here.
Excerpts from the book and names of the residents in 1840 are elsewhere on this web site

Nineteenth century census returns record Matlock Dale beginning a few metres from the bottom of Holme Road and finishing at the bottom of St. John's Road. The Dale was included in Matlock Bath in old tourist guides and trades directories and became part of the parish of Matlock Bath when Holy Trinity Church was built.

The houses in the coloured photo are in the Dale, on the opposite side of the River Derwent from High Tor. There is a bend in the river close to here, known as Artists' Corner, that has been favoured by artists for several centuries. These days the section of the River Derwent below High Tor is now regularly used by canoeists and climbers can be seen scaling the face of the Tor almost every weekend.
St John's Chapel overlooks the Dale.

Llewellyn Jewitt, in "The Matlock Companion, and visitor's guide to the beauties of Matlock"[2] described two things that have now gone from the Dale:

—"It may be useful to the visitor here to mention that from the church to the Tor (i.e. High Tor) is exactly one mile, the one hundred and forty-third mile stone from London being placed under that stupendous rock."

—"A little farther and the railway is seen suddenly emerging from the Tor, and after a single moment's flash, burying itself again in the solid rock beyond. From this point,—having walked through the long and dismal tunnel for the purpose,—we stood in the narrow opening between two rocks ... and shall never forget the effect which the passing train had on our minds, as we stood on the narrow bank ... a murmur like distant thunder, a heavy rumble, a crash of noise as the train darted past us through the short opening, and it was again buried in darkness ..."

It is not known when the milestone disappeared but the tunnel entrance is shown on a number of images:
See Matlock Dale: The Weir and the High Tor Tunnel.


Matlock Dale from High Tor, about 1980.
The houses opposite High Tor including Riversdale.

View of High Tor, by F. Chantrey, 1822.
Engraving of a drawing published in "Peak Scenery".
Matlock Bath: High Tor by Thomas Allom, about 1836. There were almost no houses in the Dale and no quarries!
Tor Hill House, Dale Road, Matlock Bath, 1915. Built by Thomas Robinson in 1830
High Tor Guest House, 1945-50. Tor Cottage was built in by Colonel Edward Payne in the early nineteenth century
Whittaker's Bottling Plant, Dale Road
High Tor and the Colour Works
How and why a Colour Works became established below High Tor in Matlock Dale
High Tor, Switzerland View includes 1892 photo of the houses

Work to widen the road at Artists' Corner began in 1936, but in 1939 the wall of the High Tor Guest House collapsed. It was not repaired immediately. The sepia postcard on the right shows both the widened road and the newly re-built wall; it was probably taken in the late 1940s.

As already mentioned, the view of High Tor and the Dale was painted innumerable times by artists though they would struggle to do so today because of the tree growth. Many photographs have also been taken and this web site has a large collection of images.

Matlock and Matlock Bath Images includes two sections about Matlock Dale.
Images on their own pages, with biographical and historical information
"Just" Images, contains a further 17 pictures of the Dale

Photochrom postcard, No.8630-, "Matlock Dale, High Tor"

Scarthin Nick and Chapel Hill

A mid nineteenth century directory described Scarthin:
"SCARTHIN NICK is a hamlet pleasantly situated on an eminence on the southern border of this parish [Matlock], adjoining the village of Cromford"[1855]. It had, like Matlock Bath, been part of the ancient parish of Matlock.

Black's "Guide", 1888[1], further described the hamlet: "Scarthin Nick is an opening between two massive limestone rocks, through which the turnpike road passes. Close to these rocks is the entrance lodge to Willersley Castle, the drive passing along between the river Derwent and the rocky boundary of the grounds, until it reaches the bridge".

Matlock Bath and Scarthin Nick, together with Chapel Hill, were governed by Matlock Bath and Scarthin Nick Local Board from 1865 until 1894 when they became Matlock Bath and Scarthin Nick Urban District Council (Local Government Act,1894)[1895]. In late 1924, after considerable opposition and a Public Inquiry, the Council amalgamated with Matlock, Cromford and Tansley to form the Matlocks Urban District[8].

Although Scarthin did not have its own parish church there were several establishments where local people could worship. "Here is a Mission church, erected in 1871, with a belfry, containing one bell, in which divine service is held every Sunday and Wednesday evenings. There are also Primitive and Wesleyan Methodist chapels, the former erected in 1853, and the latter many years since, but enlarged in 1840"[1916].
See Churches and Chapels

Roman coins had been found here in March 1795, close to the head of a human skeleton.
"A few days ago, a labourer employed in getting limestone at Scarthin Nick, in the parish of Matlock, in this county, discovered a human skeleton, at the head of which lay about 100 small roman copper coins, of the lower empire. The coins are in high preservation, and principally of Licinius,-the father and son, and the two Constantines, with different reverses" (Derby Mercury, 12 March 1795).
See documentary evidence in The Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock - vol.6708 f.25.
Also see details of a newly erected house in 1799 - The Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock -6669 f.107 (scroll down).

Thanks to the leading local tradesmen, Scarthin residents celebrated Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in some style. Mr. Boden provided a meat tea in a room at Cromford Mill, the whole district was decorated with evergreens, flowers, flags and banners, there were garlands and triumphal arches and innumerable streamers. A procession was formed that eventually led to the tea and afterwards there was an evening of dancing, cricket racing etc. on Cromford Meadows. Every window in Scarthin was lit with candles and there were Chinese lanterns in the streets. Scarthin looked magnificent (Derbyshire Times, 25 June 1887).
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, 1897
Matlock Bath & Scarthin Newspaper Cuttings

On the down side, there would have been times in the second half of the nineteenth century when Scarthin was a less than pleasant place to live, partly to do with the over crowding but also because of problems with the drainage[9].

Over a three and a half year period before the Second World War (1936-39) Matlock UDC issued clearance notices over a number of dwellings and their outbuildings in Scarthin. Those who were to be displaced needed re-housing and a site was chosen on Cromford Hill for Council homes. In February 1939 Matlock UDC invited tenders to construct roads, walls and sewers on the new housing site (Derbyshire Times, 3 February 1939). Many Scarthin families moved into the estate.

The Southern Entrance to the Dale, 1900-1910
Scarthin Rock
Scarthin Nick From Allen's Hill, 1892
Scarthin Nick and the Greyhound Pond, about 1905. A large pond is a wonderful asset for any community but during the nineteenth century Scarthin's residents faced some public health issues
Scarthin Nick : Staffordshire Row & Chapel Hill, 1905. The row are late eighteenth century terraced houses, built by Sir Richard Arkwright. Chapel Hill was named after the old Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.

For such a small area Scarthin had quite a large population.
View onsite transcripts of the census returns
> There's a newborn infant, Robert James White, one of the youngest children I've come across in a census return, who can be found living in Scarthin with his family at Schedule 101 in the 1861
Go to 1861 census page
Also see Distribution of Occupations, 1841 and Distribution of Occupations in the 1871 census

Scarthin residents and businesses were listed under Matlock in several onsite Trade Directories.
Kelly's 1848 Directory
Kelly's 1855 Directory
White's 1857 Directory
White's 1862 Directory
Bulmer's 1895 Directory (included under Matlock Bath)

They were also listed under Cromford directories, which are onsite
Cromford, Derbyshire: A collection of 19th century trades directory transcripts

A few people whom we know owned land in Scarthin through their Wills were:
Hannah Boden (see pre 1858 Wills, Surnames B);
Thomas Boden (see pre 1858 Wills, Surnames B) - there were two called Thomas;
Francis Brookfield, yeoman (see pre 1858 Wills, Surnames B);
Thomas Bruckfield, myner (see pre 1858 Wills, Surnames B);
Anthony Debanke, papermaker (see full transcript);
some of the Pearsons (see pre 1858 Wills, Surnames P);
the Wigley family (see pre 1858 Wills, Surnames W);
John Swift (see pre 1858 Wills, Surnames s);
Samuel Young (see pre 1858 Wills, Surmaes Y).

Photographs and scanned images provided by and © Ann Andrews, unless stated.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured hyperlinks are to transcripts elsewhere on this website):

[1] "Black's Tourist Guide to Derbyshire" (1888) pub. Adam and Charles Black Edinburgh

[2] Jewitt, Llewellynn Frederick William (?1860) "The Matlock Companion and Visitor's Guide to the Beauties of the Peak of Derbyshire ... " pub. Derby Telegraph Office: Derby

[3] Lysons, Rev Daniel and Samuel Lysons Esq. (1817) "Topographical and Historical Account of Derbyshire" London: Printed for T. Cadell, Strand; and G. and A. Greenland, Poultry. The Old Bath Spring had been discovered two years earlier than the first bath was constructed, in 1696.

[4] Adam, W. (1838) "The Gem of the Peak; or Matlock Bath and Its Vicinity. ..." London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row ; ... Mawe, Royal Museum, Matlock ; .... This was the first edition of his guide.

[5] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited. Also read the newspaper reports of the time : Visit of Princess Victoria & Her Mother, 1832.

[6] Published in Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London. The poem can be read on Matlock & Matlock Bath: Inspiration of Poets

[7] Adam, W. (1840) "The Gem of the Peak" London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row. This was the second edition of Adam's guide.

[8] There were the petitions to the Ministry of Health from the Matlock Bath and Scarthin Nick Urban District Council, the Bakewell Rural District Council and the Cromford Parish Council for the disallowance of the County of Derby (The Matlocks Urban District) Order, 1923 ("Derby Daily Telegraph", 30 Jan 1924). The public inquiry opened on the 19th February (same newspaper, 19 Feb 1924). On 1st Oct 1924 the various districts were abolished, amalgamating to form the Matlocks Urban District[1925].

[9] Matlock Bath & Scarthin Newspaper Cuttings has two articles about poor conditions at Scarthin. See 1871 and 1872.

[1855] "The Post Office Directory of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutlandshire", pub. Kelly and Co., London (1855)
[1891] "Kelly's Directory of the Counties of Derby, Notts, Leicester and Rutland" (May, 1891), pub. London
[1895] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland", pub. London (1895)
[1899] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland", pub. London (1899)

There are online
19th century directories
[1912] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1912 }
[1916] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1916 } There are online transcripts: 20th century directories
[1925] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1925 (not transcribed on this site)