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Matlock Bath: The Fish Pond (1), 1911 - 14
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Early views of the horse pond, later the fish pond

Rayner, 1830

Adam, 1840

Harwood, before 1840

Fish Pond Stables, 1907

On the Lovers' Walk - and the Ferry, 1900

Past Matlock & Matlock Bath photographers

Ward Lock ccover, 1928

The fish pond in Matlock Bath was, and still is, one of Matlock Bath's main attractions and was always a popular subject to photograph or draw. The top picture was taken by the local photographer Thomas Meredith Henshall and was published in the 1928 Ward Lock Guide. Henshall's photograph had been taken over a decade before, and as early as 1912-14. The large pieces of tufa from which the fountain cascades is considerably smaller than the larger stone shown in images from the 1920s and their size is consistent with the two postcards published in 1914 that are lower down the page. A coloured image of the Fishpond elsewhere on the site, one of the ones dating from the 1920s, shows the plants and shrubs surrounding the pond were also bigger than the ones here.

The pond, formerly the horse pond, changed after the Kursaal (later the Grand Pavilion) was built on the grounds of the Ferry House and the Fish Pond Stables. Mr. Briddon had owned and operated a coaching business from the former stables. When he left, much of that business was taken over by Furniss of Matlock[1]. They had a booking office tucked into the corner, where the bus stop and shelter are today[2]. If you look carefully at the right hand edge of all three images, you can see a wooden structure that looks rather like a modern gazebo. The name Furniss can be read around the top. Of the three pre-war vehicles in the photo, the one behind the lamp post on the far side of the road from the Fish Pond belonged to William Furniss.

The clothes the people are wearing are also pre-War, with these images dating from the early years of the reign of King George V.

There are also two early fish food dispensers beside the railings in all three images.

This 1914 postcard was sent to her mother by Miss Hilda Smith, when she was about to begin
a new job in Rainhill, to assure her that she had arrived safely at her aunt's house.
Interestingly, Hilda added that the postcard of the fishpond was the only card her aunt had.

In the spring of 1911 "With an eye to business, the Matlock Bath Council are laying out the grounds surrounding the Pavilion. During the last few weeks the site has been transformed from a rubbish heap into rockeries and flower borders, and in the centre of the fish pond a fountain has been placed. A choice selection of trees has been obtained. Mr. W. A. Carter, the surveyor the Council, has supervised the work"[3]. In the second and third images we can even see a seat behind the pond. A large white sign, slightly obscured by a newly planted tree, reads "FERRY AND SCENIC WALK".

The pool "is bordered with flowering plants and in the centre a fountain of thermal water plays from a pile of moss-grown stones[4]". Indeed, these images look as if relatively large pieces of tufa had been piled up around the fountain. Over the years they have fused into one large tufa rock.

In February 1911 a local paper published the following "Old Crow Hears - That the Matlock Bath fishpond was an attraction for ladies last Friday". Whilst we have no idea who Old Crow was, his comment indicates that a number of unmarried women may have gone to the pond in the hopes of finding their Valentine[5].

There are two figures next to the lamp post at the far end of the pond. Behind them, on the opposite side of the street, is the entrance to what had been Mr. Pearson's petrifying well at one time[6]. When Pearson's son-in-law was in dispute with the Local Board in 1887 an anonymous letter was published listing a numerous encroachments by Mr. Pearson. For example, the letter writer stated that the wall on the main road had been removed, "and the Petrifying Well built"[7]. Further along the road, past the lamp post, is an awning although it is not known what this was an entry to.


Although we cannot see the full height of Furniss's structure in the second and third images, we can see the head of one of his horses peering out and watching all that was going on. The horses would have been kept here during the day when they were working, in readiness to pull one of the carriages. What appear to be bags of animal feed are piled up in the corner.

More Matlock Bath images from the 1928 Ward Lock Guide

from Cat Tor (3), and the Derwent

North Parade

The Parade

1. Photograph taken by Thomas Meredith Henshall of Matlock Bath. Image from Ward Lock & Co's "Matlock, Dovedale, Bakewell and South Derbyshire", Illustrated Guide Books of England and Wales (1928). From the collection of, provided for this website by and © Ray Ash. The same image was published in their 1922-23 guide, although Henshall's name was then given as E. T. Henshall.
The photographs in the book were unlikely to have been taken specifically for the guide and were also not necessarily of the same date the book was published, as is the case here.
2. "The Fish Pond, Matlock Bath". Valentine's Series postcard, no. 79511 (black and white version) published in 1914. Unposted. © Maureen Smith collection.
3. "The Fish Pond, Matlock Bath". Valentine's Series postcard, no. 79511 (coloured version) published in 1914. Unposted. The stamp box states that the series "is a guarantee of British Manufacture. © Ann Andrews collection.
Information written, 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] Mr. Furniss advertised in Kelly's 1908, Kelly's 1912 and Kelly's 1916 trades directories.

[2] Reminiscences of the late Frank Clay. Private papers © Ann Andrews.

[3] "Derbyshire Times", 8 April 1911.

[4] Ward Lock & Co's "Guide to Matlock, Dovedale, Etc.", Illustrated Guide Books of England and Wales. Information in a number of editions published between 1911 and 1932.

[5] "Derbyshire Courier", 21 February 1911.

[6] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 4 October 1919. Sale notice for the Fishpond Hotel. Lot 3 - Valuable piece of Building Land ocupying a most important position, with a frontage to the Turnpike road and known as "The Shrubbery", together with the Petrifing Well erected thereon. The Shrubbery and the petrifying well did not sell and were withdrawn. It had been built by William Pearson when he purchased land at the sale of the Old Bath in 1864..

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 5 November 1887. The Disputed Footpaths at Matlock Bath.