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Matlock: Hall Leys, Boating Lake
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Hall Leys Park,
Miniature Railway

In 1934 the Council needed the Ministry of Health's approval for the paddling pool and boating lake they planned to construct on the Hall Leys as they proposed to take the whole of the money from the surplus on the sale of the Matlock Bath Gasworks[1]. The approval notice was received on 24 November, by which time the original estimate for the work of £750 had increased to four figures. Part of the extra expense was for the installation of electric lighting effects on the lake's small islands. Work was expected to start immediately and it was hoped the new pool and lake would be available for following season[2]. In June the following year the Pleasure Grounds Committee reported that the final cost was £1,909 12s. 1d[3].

The girls from Matlock Modern School inspected the construction work on 2 Feb 1935 and were given a talk by the Town Surveyor, Mr. Taylor[4].

1935-6. The small islands in the lake had few plants on them.

The Jubilee boating lake[5] and paddling pool were officially opened to the public in May of that year. The opening ceremony was performed by Mr. Lubin G. Wildgoose, chairman of Matlock's Council, and there were two speakers, Mr. J. King (president of the Matlock Rotary Club) and Mr. Fred Drabble (president of the Matlock Playing Fields Association). Mr. Wildgoose was a good sport as he was the first adult to take a trip in a children's paddling boat; he took his nephew out in the boat and the little boy cut the tape stretched across the lake and declared it open[6]. In August 1935 it was reported that the park, boating lake and paddling pools were crowded from shortly after nine o'clock in the morning and remained busy all day[7].

People can be seen queuing for boats in the top image, with most of the men wearing caps and the female driving the boats, had hired to amuse her children, in a formal hat. The lake's island gardens were in full bloom and the park behind looks immaculate.

"Scoota Boats"[8], which is what the small motor boats were known as then, could be hired. The postcards immediately above and below show children and adults alike having fun on the shallow lake on a summer's day. In the top picture of the two there is no small wooden kiosk for the people in charge of boat hire.

The popular Boating Lake

The final postcard also dates from the 1930s, so not long after the lake and pool opened. Everything looks very new and the plants on the islands in the lake are not well established. The paddling pool being used to sail a model boat. Perhaps it was too cold to paddle.

Although posted in 1937, the photograph was almost certainly taken in 1935.
There were no railings around the area where people waited to hire a boat.
There were a similar number of plants on the islands to those shown on
the second image, above.

Boating lake
The boating lake, Summer 2013

Duck on the boats
The heritage boats, complete with feathered friend, 2013

1. "Hall Leys Pleasure Gardens, Matlock". Published by Valentine & Sons, Ltd., Dundee and London in 1938, No. G.9641. Printed in Great Britain. This is a real photograph. Unused.
2. "The Boating Lake, Matlock".No, 6522. Publisher unknown. © Maureen Smith collection. Posed in 1938.
2. "The Boating Pool, Hall Leys, Matlock". Published by J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, no.15108. Postcard in the collection of, provided for this web site by and © Christine Leila Hill. Another card was posted in 1949.
3. "Hall Leys Pleasure Gardens, Matlock". Valentine's Real Photo, no. L7095, posted in 1965, but was registered in 1958. Postcard in the collection of, provided for this website by and © Ray Ash.
4. "Boating Lake and Paddling Pool, Matlock". A. W. Gessey, Bank Road and Dale Road, Matlock, no.136. Posted Matlock 9 Sep 1937. Postcard in the collection of, provided for this website by and © Susan Tomlinson.
5. Photographs of the boating lake today provided for this website by and © Susan Tomlinson.
Researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only

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

[1] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 16 October 1934.

[2] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 24 November 1934.

[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 18 June 1935.

[4] See: Matlock Modern School: Monthly Letter, March, 1935

[5] The Jubilee was the Silver Jubilee of George V on 6 May 1935.

[6] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 6 May 1935.

[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 5 August 1935. This was the Bank Holiday weekend.

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