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Thomas Kirkham's Business Letterheads

The photograph for this postcard would have been taken either in the summer of 1907 or during the following few of years.

The first business premises on far side of the bridge and on the left, with a large sign between the second floor windows, was that of Thomas Coton Kirkham's shoe establishment[1]. When he died in 1930 he was said to be "One of the outstanding figures in Matlock trade, having carried on business as a boot and shoe dealer in Crown Square for close on 40 years"[2]. He had taken over his brother in law's business[3].

At a Local Government Board inquiry in May 1908 the traffic over the County Bridge was described as heavy and congested, and it was suggested that Crown Square could be widened on the left side of the approach to the bridge[4]. Whilst we cannot see a great deal of traffic actually on the bridge, there does not seem to have been much space for vehicles on either side of the tram car. What is very curious here is how the motor car in the foreground managed to get through the crowd and across the bridge! At first glance it appears be going quite fast around the corner, but that cannot be the case as the vehicle would have been blurred on the image. It was also heading straight for a horse (at the very bottom of the picture). On balance, therefore, it seems probable that the driver had stopped the car so the photographer could take his picture.

There were numerous reports of cars being driven far too fast around the town. In 1909, for example, a Matlock chauffeur allegedly drove a motor car at over 20 miles an hour near Crown Square and complaints had been received by the police as he appeared to be testing his vehicle's speed. Police-constable Arthur Wright was a witness and testified that on that he saw the defendant driving car No. C49R, "at a great speed" through Crown Square, and up Bank Road. The driver claimed that he had "slowed down" near Phillips (hairdresser) as two men were examining the tram cable. Although he was let off, the driver should have been crawling along rather than just slowing when he saw the men examining the cable[5].

Earlier in the year a number of Councillors had been in favour of imposing a limit in both Crown Square and across the bridge as a way of curbing the excessive speed of some motorists. Those who opposed the idea were concerned that if the matter got into the hands of motoring journals it would "do the town considerable damage". In the end, they fudged the issue by asking Superintendent Clarke to take steps to bring about a reasonable speed limit for the Matlock district[6].

A somewhat different occurrence took place in February 1908 when a 51 year old man was before the court, charged with being a wandering lunatic. The night before, when the incident took place, had been very cold. Mr. A. E. Davis, the Dale-road chemist, first saw the gentleman, without any clothing, running over the County Bridge towards Matlock Bath. Davis stopped him and detaining him until others arrived. They included Mr. William Squires, the landlord of the Queen's Head Hotel opposite the chemists. Several people had also seen the naked man, but had not stopped him. A policeman arrived and covered him before taking him to the police station, lighting a fire to warm him through and then provided sustenance as he appeared to be starving. After examination by doctors he was not considered to be dangerous but was taken to Mickleover Asylum. He was said to be of a good address and well connected. His clothes were later found at a farm in Darley Dale[7].

There seems to be a flurry of excitement on the far side of the bridge. Even members
of the local constabulary have stopped to look and seem to be peering at
something behind the tram. It is hard to tell if the open backed cart on the right had
hit the tram or whether it had simply stopped. The policeman to the left of the pair
could have been Superintendent Clarke.

"Matlock Bridge". The Bon Marche Series. No.3518 [or 78]. Postcard printed in Saxony. Unused. Another card was posted in 1911.
Postcard in the collection, 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] He can be found in the 1901 census | Kelly's 1908 Directory | Kelly's 1912 Directory | Kelly's 1916 Directory |

[2] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 19 February 1930 and "Derbyshire Times", 22 February 1930 (Funeral of Mr. Kirkham). His funeral took place at St. Giles' Churchyard with the Rev. A. Urling Smith officiating.

[3] The Coton's were in Crown Square in the 1891 census | Kelly's 1891 Directory | Kelly's 1895 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory |

[4] "Belper News", 22 May 1908. Proposed purchase of New Recreation Ground.

[5 "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 6 August 1909.

[6] "Belper News", 19 February 1909.

[7] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 7 February 1908. A Midnight Sensation.