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Matlock: Crown Square & the Bank After the Tram, 1928-39
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Bank Road (5)

Bank Road (8), with Masson Hill, early 1930s

Crown Square from the County Bridge, 1928-30

Crown Square, 1937-39

A visitor to Matlock, who had arrived by car in 1929, obviously liked to joke: "The car has distinguished itself by arriving all in one piece. Going down the hills is the worst trouble. One of us has to hop out to hold the b(light)er back while the other does funny things with the clutch and gears. ... " The hills were to prove challenging for the vehicles of the day. The previous year Police-constable Brierley had witnessed a bizarre incident on Bank Road when he saw a lorry coming down the steep hill with two men attempting to brake it with the aid of plank! When the case went before the magistrates Superintendent Aves commented that Bank Road was very dangerous and someone might have been killed. The driver, Harry Darnes of Nottingham, was summoned for driving a lorry without two independent brakes whilst the owner, Thomas Killoran, was also summoned for permitting it. Both men were fined £1[1].

The top of the two Photochrom images here was taken in 1929, looking down into Crown Square where we can see the paved area that covered the former Park Head shops site.

Bank Road was straightened in March 1930 when the old building belonging to the Matlock and District Billposting Company, which had jutted out almost into the middle of the road, was finally demolished. The Council had negotiated with the company for years but it was only a short while before the demolition that they had reached agreement. Although large hoardings remained on the site just below the Primitive Methodist Chapel, at least there was more room for traffic[2]. Whilst it is hard to see, the hoardings were jutting out in the top picture but Bank Road is clearly wider in the second image, below.

In 1933 the Derbyshire Times could not understand the attitude the Matlocks Urban District Council in prohibiting private cars from parking on the open space at Crown Square - in other words, at Park Head - and on land off the main road in Matlock Dale. The paper commented that car drivers and their passengers needed to be encouraged to spend time in the town[3]. It was a good point, but turning part of the Hall Lees into a car park would have done nothing to make the town attractive. Nevertheless, progress was slow in improving road safety in Crown Square, where there had been numerous accidents over the years. The question of altering the arrangements to control of traffic there, and the removal of the centre lamp standard to a more suitable position, was still before the Council in 1933[4]. An island was eventually constructed and in June 1937, according to a number of prosecutions at the local court, it appeared that the public had not yet become accustomed to the traffic island. Nine motorists and cyclists, all visitors to the town, were summoned for not observing the "keep left" signs![5]

Another improvement on Matlock Bank before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 was in the street lighting. In August 1937 a special meeting of Matlock UDC was convened to discuss their contract with the gas company, which was almost at an end. Although only six members were present, those who attended went into Committee and resolved that the street lighting on Bank Road and Rutland Street and at cross roads other than on trunk roads should be converted from gas to electricity[6].

The Crown Hotel without the tram shelter
blocking the view.

1. "Matlock, General View". Published by Photochrom Co. Ltd., London and Tunbridge Wells No.62087. Posted 9 Aug 1929.
2 and 3. "Matlock from Bank Road"! Photochrom Co Ltd Copyright, Graphic Studios, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. No.71257. Not posted.
Both postcards in the collection of and provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 18 April 1928. Dangerous. ''Breaking " a Lorry Down Matlock Bank.

[2] "Derbyshire Times", 12 April 1930. Highway Improvements. Alterations to Bank Road, Matlock. The building that caused such a problem can be seen on two images on Bank Road (5).

[3] "Derbyshire Times", 29 April 1933.

[4] "Derbyshire Times", 22 July 1933.

[5] "Derbyshire Times", 18 June 1937. Number of Offenders at Matlock.

[6] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 20 August 1937. Matlock UDC special meeting. Street lighting is also mentioned on Matlock: Bank Road (8), with Masson Hill, early 1930s