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Matlock Bath: Bus Services, 1912 - 1933
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Hand's bus
Hand's bus, Grand Pavilion car park
Stan Hawley, the conductor, is standing on the steps.
Mr. Hawley eventually became the North Western inspector at Matlock[1].
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Matlock Bath Buses
1912-33 (Part 2)

North Western bus in Matlock Bath, 1930s

Hand's Garage

Furniss's Garage,
Crown Square

Williams' Garage, 1910


Charabancs in Matlock Bath in the 1920s

In early 1912 Messrs. Martin and Briddon of Matlock Bath and Furniss and Hand of Matlock, the owners of the four horsed buses plying between Matlock, Matlock Bath, and Cromford, suspended their Matlock service and went on strike for one day. This followed offers made to both Matlock and Matlock Bath Council's from motor bus owners from Nottingham and Sheffield who wanted to begin a service between Matlock and Cromford. The local firms sought a guarantee they would be given the right to run their buses during the summer[2]. A few months later the two Councils joined forced to debate the question of a motor-bus service between Matlock and Cromford; their conference brought arrangements with William Hand and William Furniss for a service a step nearer. Hand and Furniss were to provide half hourly motor-bus services to take the place of charabancs from October of that year, along a route from Crown Square, through Matlock Bath and on to Cromford Market Place[3]. William Furniss[4] took over much of Briddon's coach business. Their booking hall was tucked into the corner where the bus stop is at the bottom of the hill by the Fishpond Hotel[5].

Pre First World War Driver's Licence issued by Derbyshire County Council.

The licence, no.1136, was issued to the web mistress's grandfather, John Clay. He worked for William Furniss,
some of whose vehicles were garaged at Portland House at that time. John and William Henry Furniss
were childhood friends and planned to set up in business together after the war. It was not to be.
See War Memorials

Maudslay bus owned by W H Furniss
William Henry Furniss's bus outside the Fishpond Hotel, about 1924.

By 1924 the Matlock to Cromford route was "operated by three local companies, W. H. Furniss and Hands Garages Ltd., of Matlock and E. Williams and Co. of Matlock Bath, the latter trading as Spa Motor Services"[1]; Mr. Le Blanc Smith was the Managing Director of Williams'. Hand's Garages advertised premises in North Parade, Matlock Bath in 1922[6]. Guy Le Blanc Smith had bought the land from one of the Hand family in 1919 and eventually sold it to North Western Road Car Company in 1932[7]. He had already sold the premises under the big bay window on South Parade, where the offices and tyre store for Spar motors had been, to the Astills in 1925 and they opened a cafe[8].

Enlargement of the Furniss bus, a Maudslay.

Underwood bus
Postcard of Underwood's bus, Grand Pavilion car park

Messrs. W. T. Underwood were the proprietors of the Chesterfield-Matlock bus service, running to Matlock via Chesterfield Road and Matlock Green. In May 1924 Matlock Council suggested Underwood's bus should stop at the tram terminus in Matlock so that the two services could work together[9]. Underwood's service had, up till then, terminated at Causeway Lane but the idea was mooted that their next licence should be granted only on condition that their route ended at the tram depot[1]. A few day's later Mr Underwood responded to the Council's proposal, telling them that he intended running the service right through to Cromford, which put a very different complexion on the matter![10] The Council's idea was dropped and Underwood's clearly got most of what they wanted. They operated a service from Chesterfield, via Kelstedge and Matlock, to Matlock Bath, terminating at the Fish Pond. It is difficult to tell from the timetable (below, right) whether the service only operated during the summer months, or whether it was provided all year round. Sadly for Underwood's, one of their buses knocked down and killed Mrs Elizabeth Edwards of Packrall Farm, Matlock Moor in 1926[11]. Underwood's became the East Midland Motor Services in June 1927[1].

At a Council meeting in December 1924 Mr. Lubin Wildgoose suggested that the Council could run a bus service equally as well as private individuals. However, Mr. Le Blanc Smith produced figures to show what the running costs would be and said Council run buses couldn't collect that sum in fares[12]. Although the Council approved Mr. Wildgoose's suggestion they did not act on it and they were to debate the issue several times in the future[1].

The closure of the Bank Road tram in 1927 was a turning point for the bus companies. The Council were faced with the problem that no bus service existed for people to travel up and down Matlock Bank. At the same meeting when they voted to close the tramway (18 July 1927) they decided take immediate steps for an agreement with bus proprietors, local or otherwise, to run a bus service instead[13]. Four firms were approached, Messrs Hands, William Spa Motor Services (Le Blanc Smith), North Western and East Midland. W. H. Furniss was missed off the list, although he and his father had been running buses between Matlock and Cromford from the outset. He wrote to the Council pointing out that he had not been given the same chance as the other firms but they responded was that they didn't consider his vehicle suitable for the extended route[1]. In the end Williams ran a temporary service whilst things were sorted out. By 1930 Alfreton Transport Company, Williams, Hands and North Western were operating a service from Cromford, through Matlock Bath and up to the Duke of Wellington. North Western purchased all the bus companies and from 1st October 1933 they were the sole bus company on the route[1]. North Western used to garage their buses at the New Bath Hotel[8].


Timetable (transcript)
from the High Peak News, 19 Sep 1925




CHESTERFIELD - Markham Road.

Dep Daily - *8.15 a.m., 9.15, 10.15, *11.15, 12.15
then every hour until 6.15 p.m., *7.15,
8.15, 9.15, *10.15.
Sundays.- 10.15 a.m., 1.15, the every hour until
9.15 p.m.

Matlock Bath - Fish Pond.

Dep Daily - 7.30 a.m., *9.45, 10.45, 11.45, *12.45,
1.45, then every hour until 7.45 p.m.
*8.45, 9.45, *10.45.
Sundays.- 11.45 a.m., 1.45, the every hour until
9.45 p.m.

*Saturdays only

Related pages:

Furniss advertisement, the Autochrome Album of Matlock & District (scroll down the page)

Bank Road & the Steep-Gradient Tramway

There is a report of the promise of a 15 minute 'bus service on Matlock Bath & Scarthin Newspaper Cuttings, 1921.

1. Hand's bus photograph in the collection of and provided by and © Glynn Waite.
2. Cover and copy of driving licence in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
3. "South Parade and Heights of Abraham", Valentines, No.88725 and Furniss's bus in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
4. Postcard of Underwood's bus, Grand Pavilion in the collection of and provided by and © Glynn Waite.
5. Timetable, from the "High Peak News", provided by Glynn Waite.
Written and researched by and © Ann Andrews. Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] Waite, Glynn (2012) "The Matlock Cable Tramway", Pynot Publishing, 50 Main Road, Holmesfield, Dronfield, Derbyshire. ISBN 978-0-9562706-5-8

[2] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 26 January 1912. Threatened Suspension of Matlock Service. Same paper, 29 January 1912; deadlock, the omnibus owners went on strike and no service running for the first time in fifteen years.

[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 2 May 1912. An agreement was to be signed within next few days.

[4] The Furniss family were living at Matlock Bridge at the time of the 1901 census.
They advertised in the following trade directories: Kelly's 1908 Directory, Matlock (William Snr) | Kelly's 1908 Directory, Matlock Bath (William Snr) | Kelly's 1916 Directory, Matlock (William Snr) | Kelly's 1916 Directory, Matlock Bath (William Snr) | Kelly's 1925 Directory (William, Field House, Smedley Street; William Henry, Premier Garage, Bakewell Road, with offices on Causeway Lane; Also Premier Garage, Matlock Bath) | Kelly's 1932 Directory and Kelly's 1941 Directory (William Henry, motor haulage contractors, Field House, Smedley St)

[5] Reminiscences of the late Mr. Frank Clay, from his private papers and notes owned by the web mistress.

[6] Kelly's 1922 Directory, Matlock Bath.

[7] "Derbyshire Times", 14 May 1932. "North Western ... now run the Wirksworth and other bus services operated by him."

[8] Notes from Doreen Buxton.

[9] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 13 May 1924.

[10] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 24 May 1924.

[11] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 4 October 1926.

[12] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 9 December 1924. Matlock Council. Proposal for a Public bus service. Mr. Le Blanc Smith was the Managing Director of Williams Spa Motor Services.

[13] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 19 July 1927.