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Matlock Bath: Derwent Gardens from the River Derwent
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Switchback, Rise & Fall

Adrenalin Rush

Derwent Gardens
Café (1)

Derwent Gardens
Café (2)


The Riverbank,
about 1880

The three cards featured on this page show the southern end of the Derwent Gardens and were taken from the Lovers' Walks on the opposite bank of the river. The first two images are almost certainly based on the same negative. The roof of the southern shed (or turn around point) of the switchback railway can be seen in all three pictures and Holy Trinity Church is on the hillside above.

The large tent or marquee on the riverbank was possibly erected for a Regatta. In September 1902 the Derwent Rowing Club, which had then only been in existence for a couple of months, held their first regatta on the river[1]. This and subsequent regattas organised by the Club took place in the switchback grounds, then called Orchard Holme, and were held with the permission of the owner (Mr. Herbert Buxton) and the Urban District Council[2]. A large number of spectators lined the sides of the course, which was something like half a mile long and began at the Central Ferry a little higher up the river[1]. The events also included swimming and water polo and these were added to over the years. When these first two images were taken (1907) the regatta was the sixth and was held in July. The last river gala was staged in 1920, but did not use the racing skiffs as the Rowing Club had ceased to be in 1919. Sadly, the names of some of those who had taken part before the war were to be carved on the War Memorial[3].

Untitled [On the Derwent, beside Derwent Gardens].

On the edge of the riverbank is a pipe with water pouring into the River Derwent (just below the open entranceway of the tent). This was one of the thermal springs and would have originally cascaded down the hillside[4]. Portland House, at the bottom of Clifton Road, has thermal springs within its grounds which feeds the property's garden fountain and a drinking fountain/basin set in the outer boundary wall facing the river[5]; this was the river outlet for the springs. In Mr. Edmonds' time at the house it is believed there were two thermal springs (mentioned in the 1950 auction notice) and he controlled the flows from a sort of underground sluice in what used to be the field opposite, next to the church. One fed a small stream that flowed through the garden on the south side of Portland House and the other went under the northern wing of the mews to feed the ornamental fountain within in the garden. The water then went under the road, originally to a petrifying well behind Clifton Cabin on the opposite side of Derby Road before being piped down to the Derwent. It now feeds a water feature within the Derwent Gardens.  

Looming over the switchback is Holy Trinity Church and to the right is the Royal Hotel.
This Edwardian view was taken on the opposite bank of the river from the Derwent Gardens.
Although it is not easy to see, the undulating track of the switchback can be seen in the shrubbery.
A couple of small sheds are on the left, a quarter of the way up the card.
An enlargement of the church can be found on Matlock Bath: Holy Trinity Church, 1907.

Two families were to make their home in the Derwent Gardens over the years. In 1903 one of Herbert Buxton's daughters was married in Australia to Arthur J Wyrill, a sea captain[6]. Although it is unclear when the couple returned to Matlock Bath, they lived in "a wooden house in an enclosure at the back of the switchback, quite private and well hidden"[3]. The Boden and Hardy families lived at the café and amusement arcade during their tenure of the Derwent Gardens and would have slightly overlapped the Wyrills.

William Herbert Boden, in partnership with his son in law Harold P Hardy, had followed on from Mr. Hackett and ran the Pleasure Grounds in the mid to late 1930s. The Boden family had been involved with the Derwent Gardens Cafe and restaurant since it had opened and Mr. Boden, as well taking over from his father and running the Cafe, was also employed at Masson Mill cotton mill as a departmental foreman. The Hardys were still at the Cafe in 1945, although for part of the war the gardens were taken over by the Army.


Business card of Hardy & Boden

1. "On the Derwent, Matlock Bath". Valentine's Series, British Manufacture No.58611 J.V. published 1907. Not posted.
2. Untitled [On the Derwent, beside Derwent Gardens]. One of a series of Valentines snapshots - photographs of Matlock Bath - originally in a card folder.
3. "Matlock Bath. The Church from Lovers Walk". Raphael Tuck & Sons "Silverette", Series 600, Matlock Bath. Art Publishers to their Majesties the King and Queen "Picturesque Derbyshire". This image was unused but another view, formerly on the site, was posted 1 Aug 1908 at Alvaston.
4. Business card for Boden & Hardy © Geoff Hardy.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 20 September 1902.

[2] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 15 August 1903.

[3] Recollections of the late Mr. Frank Clay, who helped out at the Switchback Railway on occasion. From his private papers and notes owned by the web mistress, some of which were written in 1998 and are still within copyright.

[4] See the late 18th century image of The Cascade near Matlock Bath

[5] See Portland House, especially the 1931 advertisement.

[6] "The Argus" (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 13 February 1903 published the announcement of the marriage of Ethel Buxton and Arthur J[ames] Wyrill. After is death in 1942 his widow went to live with her sister.

[7] Boden & Hardy, Derwent Gardens amusement ground (Kelly's Directory,1941). Also Derwent Gardens Cafe (The) (Mrs. L. W. Boden, proprss.). Mrs. Boden was at the café in 1932. In 1925 John William Boden ran the cafe and was also at Edinburgh House.