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Matlock: Railway Bridge with Matlock Bank in the Distance, 1863
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Similar views in the 1890s

Building the Railway Line to Matlock Station

Matlock Railway Station Buildings, 2008 and before

Boat House Bridge 1906

Smedley's Hydro, Extending the Hydro

Midland Railway Distances

In 1863 the Derbyshire newspapers were awash with advertisements for the sixth edition of "Smedley's Practical Hydropathy", where this engraving was published. The railway line had been laid 14 years before and we see it from where it emerged from the High Tor tunnel looking northwards towards the railway bridge and with Matlock Bank on the hillside beyond.

The Boat House Inn was positioned next to the turnpike road that went through Matlock Bath to Cromford and beyond. In 1863 its landlord was Thomas Rawson, supported by his wife Eliza nee Buxton who had married at St. Giles' on 28 Dec 1841[1]; they had been at the hostelry for some time when this image was drawn[2]. When he passed away in 1887 Thomas had only recently left the hotel to move to Darley Villa on Darley Hillside; he had been the proprietor and manager of the Boat House for nearly thirty years[3]. Eliza survived him[2]. His sister Rebecca had also lived with the family for a time and died at the Inn in 1865[4].

We can see the Boat House Inn, the railway bridge over the main road and the arched bridge over the river.
Beyond is Holt Lane - Dale Road had not been built - and to the left of the properties is the entrance to the tunnel
leading to Matlock station. This enlargement underlines how little development there had been on Matlock Bank by 1863.
Although it wasn't overly big at this stage, Smedley's Hydro still looms large. It is possible the buildings just below it
and slightly to the left belong to Allen Hill.

In 1868 J. G. Eaton of Starkholmes had published an article in The Field on 11 March that was repeated in the local newspaper. He normally commented on fishing in the Wye and Derwent rivers, but this time he wrote of something rather different. "A large flood came down on Thursday - such a one as we have not had for several years. It blocked up the Boat House Inn, getting on to the road, and at Matlock Bridge and Darley Bridge it was out in the meadows". He added that "the cleach nets were at work, as usual, in such cases". As there was more heavy rain -"torrents" according to Eaton - another rise in the water levels was almost certain and all fishing had stopped, save for small brooks[5].

Nottingham Journal, 29 August 1863

This Fine Old House has been recently very much enlarged and
newly fitted up, and contains every accommodation and comfort
for visitors, with board lodgings on moderate terms. Hot
and Cold Baths may be had in the house. It is delightfully
situated on the Derwent, amidst the most beautiful scenery, and
only a short and pleasant walk from Matlock Bath. The Boat is
connected with the House, so parties may enjoy a sail on the river.

As for Mr. Smedley and his hydro high up on an almost empty Matlock Bank, in 1863 it was said that "£10,000 had been expended at Mr. Smedley's, a year or two since. He is a wealthy and benevolent man, and has a gratis establishment for poor people, besides a yarn manufactory near Lea Bridge. Above 100 patients and the arrangements are very complete"[6].

There is a list of all the hotel's known licensees, listed alphabetically, 1775 - 1950s.
See Matlock: Dale Road, Boat House Hotel & River, about 1908. With Licensees.

More images of the Boat House

Nineteenth century engraving, and enlarged section of it, from "Smedley's Practical Hydropathy", 6th edition (1863), Published London: Job Caudwell, 335 Strand and others.
In the collection of and provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts and information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Thomas was a son of Edward and Mary Rawson and christened at St. Giles' on 28 April 1816. Eliza Ann, daughter of Robert and Mary Buxton, had already been christened there on 10 Sep 1815.

[2] "Derbyshire Times", 21 May 1887. Announcement of death. He was interred at St. Giles on 17 May 1887. His widow, Eliza, was buried on 13 Jan 1894.

[3] Thomas and Ann were on Hackney Lane in 1851, farming 27 acres.
There are a number of references to them at the Boat House.
See: the 1861 census | White's Directory, 1862 (lime and marbl. merchant) |
Slater's Royal National Commercial Directory, 1862 (Family and Commercial Hotel) | Kelly's Directory, 1864 |
Harrod's 1870 Directory (Family and Commercial Hotel) | the 1871 census | White's Directory, 1871-2 (Family and Commercial) |
Kelly's Directory, 1876 | the 1881 census.

[4] Rebecca Rawson of the Boat House was buried at St Giles' on 23 Apr 1865, aged 71 Matlock Parish Register).

[5] "Derby Mercury", 18 March 1868. Heavy rain often caused the river to flood. See: Flooding in the Matlocks.

[6] "Newcastle Journal", 24 September 1863.