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Matlock Bath: The Ferry House, Spar Shop & Obelisk
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Spar shop, ferry house and obelisk
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Matlock Bath from the Heights of Abraham, 1866-78

Grand Pavilion and Spar Shop

Matlock Bath: The Royal Hotel and the Church

The Royal Hotel, Pavilion and Holy Trinity Church

Fish Pond Stables, Providence Mine & the Mud Heap

This rare photograph was taken from the Royal Hotel grounds and provides a very different view of the Ferry House beside the river from the early twentieth century views of this part of Matlock Bath. Interestingly, the field between the wall and the grassed area was the land Charles White made such a fuss about at the beginning of the 20th century when he wanted to build the Grand Pavilion; it resulted in both White and Herbert Buxton claiming they were mining for lead (see Fish Pond Stables, Providence Mine & the Mud Heap).

The obelisk was one of the locations where cavern guides stood to tout for business; one of them is standing on the road leading up to the Royal Hotel, formerly the Old Bath, and the Temple. There is an image of the obelisk in Jewitt's Matlock Companion of 1835, but the book gives no indication of when it was put there or where it came from. However, obelisks were being sold in spar shops in Matlock Bath in 1769 as they could be bought from John Bown's premises at Warm Walls[1].

The windows of the small roadside shop are filled with displays of what were probably fancy goods for tourists to buy once they had been up to the caverns. The shops lessee was Francis Ogden, a spar and marble worker who became a jeweller and sold the jewellery he had made here. It is not clear when he took over the premises as Adam records Thomas Pearson's shop as being "on the road-side near to the obelisk" in 1857. Pearson had a second shop on Temple Walk[2].

Whilst there appear to be no advertisements in the various histories stating what else the shop sold during the Odgen's tenure, we can learn something from a report of theft that occurred in 1877. Two young men, scholars from a Liverpool church on a trip to Matlock, stole two crystal lockets from the shop and two sets of sleeve studs from Samuel Smith's premises. When they went in to Mr. Ogden's shop they asked to look at some lockets, but claimed they were too large. Ogden's daughter, who had served them, went to search for something smaller, leaving them alone in the shop. The customers did not buy anything and left. Once they had departed she realised the lockets they had first looked at were missing so she alerted the police. Sergeant Watts subsequently discovered the young men at the railway station; he searched them and discovered a haul of two bracelets, a pair of earrings, two crystal lockets, three onyx rings and two pairs of wrist studs! The young men were given 14 days in gaol[3]. Unfortunately, theft by day trippers was not an uncommon occurrence and the Ogden's weren't the only victims of light fingered tourists.

Francis Ogden passed away on 11th September 1886. According to the Matlock Visiting List he had been, together with William Smedley, "proprietor of most of the Petrifying Wells in Matlock, and was also joint proprietor of the Romantic Rocks prior to the acquisition of that property by the Matlock Bath Pavilion Company. Although Mr. Ogden was a shrewd man of business, he never took part in any public affairs ... he was 73 ...[4]". In 1882 the two men had given the Owlet Hole Mine, which was capable of being converted into one of the best caverns in the district, to the newly formed Pavilion Company[5]".

Francis's widow Mary and their son Frederick took over the jewellers[6]" and continued in the trade until at least 1895[7]". Another son, John, ran the Great Petrifying Well next door to Mr. Buxton's Museum.

Things began to change for this part of Matlock Bath in the summer of 1891 when Herbert Buxton gave notice for a motion at the next meeting of Matlock Bath's Local Board as they wished to procure land and erect Local Board Offices. The proposal was to obtain land "by purchase or otherwise"; some of the land in their sights was "on the east side of the main road, between Mr. Briddon's Restaurant and Mrs. Ogden's shop for the purpose of extending the footpath to a width of at least 12 feet, and that land be procured to make a public road from the main road, by Mr. Wild's butcher's shop, following the river bank to the ferry, and thence to the road leading to the Orchard Holme[8]." Later that year Mr. Buxton wanted a building erected at the corner of his land (Orchard Holme, now the Derwent Gardens) and nearest the town, close to Mr. Ogden's little shop[9].

As for the obelisk, a gas lit street lamp was eventually placed on top. It is the only structure to remain today; it is now without any kind of light on top but at some point in the mid to late twentieth century the Temple Hotel owners had their hotel's name carved on it, although it is unclear if they owned it.

There is more about the Ferry and Ferry House:

The Ogden family are mentioned on the following:

The Royal Pavilion - the Palais Royal

The Great Petrifying Well, 19c stereo view

Mr. Buxton's Royal Museum & the Great Petrifying Well

Fish Pond Hotel, about 1910

The Great Petrifying Well, 1932

[Ogden's Spar Shop, the Ferry House and the Obelisk, Matlock Bath]. Early 1880s or before. The image had unfortunately been kept in a frame by a previous owner, hence the unevenness in the colour. Having tested a number of options to remove the differences, I opted to leave for a sepia version as it provided the clearest picture.
In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Information researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (the coloured links are to onsite transcripts):

[1] "Derby Mercury", 20 October 1769. Learn more about Warm Walls on Matlock Bath: Warm Walls Toll Bar, before 1879

[2] Adam, W. (1857) "The Gem of the Peak; or Matlock Bath and Its Vicinity. ..." ... This was the sixth edition of his guide.

[3] "Glossop Chronicle ... ", 30 June 1877. Matlock Petty Sessions. Robbery by Excursionists.

[4] "Matlock Visiting List", 22 September 1886. Death of Mr. Ogden. Francis was buried at St. Giles', Matlock a couple of weeks before.

[5] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 15 June 1882.

[6] The 1891 census. They lived at Woodland Terrace (Kelly's Directory, 1891). Mary Ogden was buried at St. Giles', Matlock, in 1897.

[7] Bulmer's Directory, 1895. He then moved to Sheffield but returned to Matlock Bath to take over The Fish Pond Hotel

[8] "Matlock Visiting List", 18 June 1891. Matlock Local Board. It was also reported in the "Derbyshire Times ", 11 July 1891. Steps were to be taken to procure by private arrangement, if possible, land belonging to Mr. Sellars between the Petrifying Well and the Old Bath Hotel (Royal Hotel) on the opposite side of the road.

[9] "Derbyshire Times ", 7 Nov 1891.