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Matlock Bath: The Ferry and the River Derwent, 1905
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On the Lovers' Walk
- and the Ferry, 1900

Lovers' Walks about 1901

Boats For Hire, 1950s

An early spring picture of the river, the ferry and the pleasure boats. Not all the trees are in leaf on the hillside on the opposite bank from where the people are standing, perhaps waiting to hire one of the rowing boats. Or they may be one of the boatmen and his family.

A boat is tied up on the opposite river bank, something the boat people did to stop people from tampering with them when they were not in use. Later on boats were sometimes tied to the ferry rope and if the river was high the boatmen would take the boats into the middle and tie them to the rope[1].

The ferry itself is slightly upstream from the pleasure boats. At the time the rope was still made of hemp and was just tied to a tree though this was later replaced by wire.

Over the years there have been several incidents involving the ferry and its rope. In 1872, for example, the Derby Mercury reported that "some persons visiting at Matlock Bank, and from whom better things might have been expected, have caused considerable annoyance to the proprietor of the Derwent Ferry by behaving in an unreasonable and violet manner, one of them foolishly cutting the ferry rope and causing other damage. This individual has to account for his conduct before the bench of magistrates at Matlock Bridge last Wednesday, who dealt with him, as will be seen by our report, much more leniently that he deserved[2]". At Matlock Bridge Petty Sessions on July 17 the culprit was named and fined:

" Captain Fitzroy, of Congleton, was summoned for doing malicious damage to a rope at Matlock Bath, on the 10th inst.-Mr. John King prosecuted.-The respondent, who did not put in an appearance, was fined 30s. and 13s. 6d. costs, or in default one month's imprisonment.-A telegram was received in the afternoon of the day of the hearing, asking for cost of the proceedings which would be remitted by P.O.O.[2]".

Many locals still remember the ferry being operated by "Admiral" Walter Bird, who lived at the Prince of Wales on Orchard Road. Arthur Gregory, who lived at the lodge at the bottom of the Heights, also operated it[1]. One local man recalls that shortly after the second war Mr. Bird, who was a small man, missed the rope and fell in the river, to the amazement of some American visitors who were in the ferry boat at the time[3].

Postcard, "The Ferry and River Derwent, Matlock Bath" is one of the Artistic Series, A.P. Co., 9 Bury Court, St. Mary Axe, London, E.C. No.1960. Chromotyped in Saxony.
Posted 14 July 1905 at Matlock Bridge to a Miss Duffield in Manchester from M.W. who was pleased recipient hadn't forgotten her old friends in Matlock Bath.
In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] With thanks to Ken Smith.

[2] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, July 24, 1872, Cutting the Ferry Rope.

[3] With thanks to Colin Goodwyn.