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Matlock: Hall Leys, Tennis, Boating Lake & Paddling Pool, late 1930s to 1950s
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Boating Pool


Matlock Bath's Miniature Railway in the Derwent Gardens

The photographer presents us with a slightly more unusual view of the Hall Leys Park (above) as he or she was looking down the valley from the end furthest away from Crown Square, so looking back towards Park Head and Matlock Bank, with Causeway Lane on the right. The football ground 'stands' and dugout can be see on the opposite side of the road.

According to a 1950s guide which was published not long after the top postcard, the park provided "amusements for young and old[1]". This card shows many of the things available in the late forties and early fifties, including the swings and the children's paddling pool although the protective weather screens, added to the bandstand in the 1950s, were a thing of the future.

Whilst it is not easy to see beneath the trees, on the left is the line of the miniature railway beside the river. There was another miniature railway in the Derwent Gardens in Matlock Bath[1]. Bowls and crazy golf were also available, and still are today.

Flags can be seen on the boating lake's islands but they had disappeared by the time later pictures of the lake were taken (see next image).

A wartime trade directory stated that the Council had provided "tennis courts, a miniature golf course, a crown bowling green, and a magnificent lake has been constructed for motor boating and skating"[2]. Hard tennis courts had been discussed by the Council in the 1920s but were not laid when the boating lake was installed and some of the other facilities were updated. Grass courts were being played on in 1938, when a visitor commented that the grass courts were in a beautiful condition[3]. In 1942 "some much needed hard tennis courts" were mentioned by one councillor but do not seem to have been built, though the Matlock tennis tournament that year was described as a wartime attraction[4].

Tennis Courts, Hall Leys Park, 1948
Ernest Bailey's School played their home matches on the courts here in the early 1940s[5].
The hard courts were installed after the second world war.

The sepia post war picture, above, shows quite a crowd watching a tennis match on the grass court closest to the building known as the Tudor refreshment rooms. The Matlock tennis tournament of 1946, which took place in "perfect weather", was an international event with competitors from Czechoslovakia, Egypt and Poland as well as contestants from other parts of the U.K. The overseas players won most of the trophies. Two Egyptians, L. Shaffei and M. Talaat, competed in the men's final with Mr. Shaffei the eventual winner of the Marquess of Hartington Challenge Cup. The Walter Evans Rose Bowl was won by Mdlle Straubeova of Czechoslovakia who beat Chesterfield's Betty Marsh. In the mixed doubles she partnered Derbyshire Champion D. H. Slack, which they also won[6]. The following year proved no more successful for Dennis Slack, an English international, as he was beaten at the same tournament by a Romanian player.

A more recent addition to the park is an area for skate boarders, constructed on one of the tennis courts.

The final image is included because it shows a greengrocer's truck, owned by Roby of Tupton, parked behind the swings. The Robys used to sell fruit and vegetables on the Hall Leys in the 1950s.

Fruit and veg for sale

1. "Matlock Park. The Boating Lake and Paddling Pool" published by Photochrom Limited. No. 78718, but likely to have been taken in the late 1930s. Photochrom also published a coloured version. © Ray Ash collection.
2. "The Park, Matlock", No.10 in the series published by Rhodes Shops. Photo., A. J. Roberts. Posted in Matlock, Derbyshire on 25 Aug 1948. Rhodes' Shops were at Smedley Street Post Office, on Bank Road and Dale Road[1]. In the collection of provided by and © Pauline Jordan.
3. Photograph of the swings and green grocer's truck © Kenneth Smith collection.
Researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] "The Matlocks, The Official Guide Book" (about 1950). Joint advertisement for the Hall Leys Park and the Derwent Pleasure Grounds

[2] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1941.

[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 02 September 1938.

[4] "Derbyshire Times", 31 July 1942 and 7 August 1942.

[5] Information from Mrs. Maureen Smith, who played on the courts when she was a pupil at the school. See: Ernest Bailey's Sports Teams 1944-1946.

[6] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 11 July 1946, 13 July 1946 and 15 July 1946. Tennis tournaments had begun before the war and proved to be popular events in the late 1940s.