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Matlock: The Dale, The Heights, High Tor & the Quarry, 1920s
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Matlock Bank and Bridge - from near the Quarry, 1907

The Staff of Derbyshire Stone, about 1945

The views of the Heights, High Tor and the High Tor grounds on its summit were considered to be of great visual and artistic interest and the both Tor and the Heights had already been an important tourist attraction for several centuries. Opposite High Tor is the mighty Masson with the Victoria Tower marking the location of the Heights of Abraham. You can see it on the skyline above the tip of High Tor. There are a few scattered farms on Masson and Cliff House, for many years the home of the Leacrofts, is about halfway up the hill and overlooking the Dale. But the industry at the entrance to the Dale of Matlock Bath in the 1920s and 30s somewhat spoils the scene.

In 1930 "A Candid Critic" wrote to the Derbyshire Times:

"Probably no portion of Derbyshire has been more liberally endowed by Nature than the Matlock valley. In all its green verdure, Matlock Bath and Matlock Dale to-day should be a dream of natural beauty, but for one thing, the manner in which all sections of the community seem to have done their best to destroy its beautiful amenities. The fault lies on no one pair of shoulders - all are to blame, Urban Council, local manufacturer, trader, shopkeeper and private resident. ...
All along the road what do we see? Rubbish protruding itself on every side, paintless signs and decaying woodwork, rusty ironwork and ugly scrap metal and wood everywhere - little attempt at order or cleanliness. ...
At the entrances to some of the quarries are lying rusty old boilers, which ought long ago to have been sent to the scrap heap. Nearby is parked an old bus, its windows broken but there for all visitors to see. Why keep it on the roadside in full view? ...

His or her frankness should have been a wakeup call about both the rubbish and the pollution, although the latter continued to be a problem until at least 1955[2]. In 1939 the Council wrote to Messrs. Greatorex and Sons of Harvey Dale Quarries, calling their attention to complaints by property owners that fumes were coming from the Matlock Dale works[3]. Ten years earlier the dust nuisance had been discussed by Matlock's Council and several Councillors dismissed it as a problem (see Stone Quarrying).

Enlargement of bottom right hand quarter of the card.
The roadsides were unattractive, with piles of timber on the left and quarry "stuff" on the right, although they were tidier than
one might perhaps have expected. The picture must have been taken on a dustless day.
You can see just how close quarry activity was to the cottages designed by Sir Guy Dawber.

In 1931 a proposed diversion of a footpath behind Matlock Dale quarries was approved by both Councillors and magistrates as Greatorex and Sons were planning to quarry more of the hillside. It was said that, as a result, the number of employees would double[4]. Edward Samuel, the former Matlock Green blacksmith, had taken charge of the plant at Greatorex's but he was forced to retire through of ill-health and passed away in 1933[5].

Finally, an interesting discovery was made following blasting operations at the quarry in 1937 when an old lead mine shaft was revealed. William Land, one of the quarrymen, went down the shaft and discovered a 'rake', or tunnel, leading from the bottom. Approximately 100 feet below the surface were small narrow gauge rails laid along the rake, and a small bogey truck, complete with small iron wheels, was on lying its side but was otherwise intact. The truck was 3' 6" long, 1' 6" wide and 1' 3" deep, with the top wider than the bottom[6].

Other images of the quarry and/or this part of Matlock Bath's Dale

1. & 2. MATLOCK BATH, Showing HEIGHTS of ABRAHAM. The W & K Postcard, H. S. Flint, Wholesale Stationer, Matlock No.33. Real Photograph, British Manufacture Not used.
Postcard in the collection of and images 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] "Derbyshire Times", 16 Aug 1930. Matlock Bath. How Its Beauties are Destroyed. [By a Candid Critic].

[2] "Belper News", 8 Apr 1955. Nuisance at Matlock Dale. An appeal to the M.P. about the dust created at this quarry.

[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph 28 June 1939.

[4] "ibid.'", 5 Feb 1931.

[5] "Derbyshire Times", 28 October 1933. Matlock. Death of Mr. E. Samuel. His son, Edward J Samuel, carried on his father's blacksmith business.

[6] "ibid", 16 April 1937.