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Matlock Bath: Fish Pond Stables, 1907
Matlock Bath : Twentieth Century Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
The Fish Pond Stables were the starting point for many journeys to other destinations in Derbyshire
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Museum Parade, Old Bath Terrace & the Heights, 1840

Vignette, before 1840

The Fish Pond (1),

The Grand Pavilion
(The Kursaal), 1915

Pavilion, Obelisk & Spar Shop

Visitors to Matlock Bath, 1904

Glove factory

This card is of the Heights of Abraham, the Temple Hotel, part of South Parade near the Fish Pond Hotel and the Fish Pond Stables (foreground, centre and right). The Heights and the wooded hillside below were probably the main interest when the photograph was taken, but it is the Stables that make the card of historical interest as it shows just how extensive they were. The card was posted in 1907, but the original was probably taken in the early 1890s (see below).

According to William Adam, writing in 1838, the stables on this site had been built about 40 years before his first guide was published, so at the end of the 1790s. They replaced the Old Bath Hotel's old stables and coach house and were built slightly lower down the hill, out of the way of the house, by "the present proprietors"[1]. They were to be demolished to make way for the Grand Pavilion, which was initially called the Kursaal and built in 1910, just three years after this card was posted[2].

The white painted advertisement on the side of the shop, on the left above, is next to the Fish Pond Hotel and advertises the Fish Pond Hotel, the Stables and cycles. There are some beautiful carriages in the stables' yard next to Boden's Refreshment and Dining Rooms but perhaps Mr. Boden was less happy with them being so close to his windows.

"The Briddons owned and ran the livery stables which stood on the site of the Pavilion. ... The livery stables would be quite busy bearing in mind that the Royal Hotel had no stabling at all and Matlock Bath was the starting off place for 4-in-hand and 6-in-hand horse drawn coaches which set off to Dovedale, Baslow and a host of other places. When the livery stables finished Briddon sold off his business and started as an hotelier near Dovedale. ... Some of the stabling moved to Portland Mews on Clifton Road. Furniss of Matlock took over much of the coach business. They [Furniss's] had a booking hall tucked into the corner where the bus stop is at the bottom of the hill by the Fishpond Hotel[3]". The Briddons, mentioned in the quotation, were Herbert Briddon and his sons Frederic and Cecil[4]. Furniss of Matlock was William Furniss, cab & coach proprietor & hay & straw dealer[5].

In 1893 Mr. Briddon had fallen foul of Matlock Bath Local Board and its bye-laws because he had erected a building very close to the Fish Pond, which had not been built according to the plans deposited. The structure, presumably the wooden structure that looks like a booking hall on the postcard above, had been standing for some time before a decision was reached about what to do. The Board eventually served notice on Mr. Briddon and at 6 a.m. on Thursday 23rd March several Board employees began demolishing the building under the watchful eye of Mr. W. Jaffrey, the Board's Surveyor. According to the newspaper report, Mr. Briddon took charge of the material but it was alleged that he would be unable to do business over the 1893 Easter holiday as a result of the Board's action[6].

As the Briddons left Matlock Bath there was further friction with Matlock Bath Council. It was suggested by Mr. Wheatcroft, one of the Councillors, that if the Council allowed Mr. Briddon to remain on the Fishpond premises after 31st October 1908, that he should make a present of the fish in the pond![7] In the following February the Council were aghast when Cecil Briddon took the large fish, which he owned, to Dovedale. Briddon has wanted £400 for the fish but the Council were not forthcoming and they were forced to re-stock it with much smaller fish[8].

1903 advertisement, Ward Lock Guide.

The Fish-Pond Posting Establishment
1903 advertisement, Heywood's Guide
, showing the front of the stables and the fish pond.
A very small piece of tufa, with a water fountain, is just about discernable on the right of the pond.

1. "Matlock Bath". Postcard, franked 23 Sep 1907, was sent to Mr. Webber of Southtown, Gt Yarmouth from his sister Eva who describes Matlock Bath as "a lovely place Charming scenery .... perfect weather". No publisher details provided for this version. However, the original image for this card was taken by GWW (George Washington Wilson & Co.), No.21,357. The plumes of smoke are identical.
2. Advertisement from Ward Lock & Co's "Guide to Matlock, Dovedale, Etc.", Illustrated Guide Books of England and Wales (Guide Series 1903-4)
3. Advertisement from "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated." (1903) Abel Heywood & Son, Manchester & London.
All images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (the coloured links are to onsite transcripts):

[1] Adam, W. (1838) "The Gem of the Peak; or Matlock Bath and Its Vicinity. ..." London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row ; ... Mawe, Royal Museum, Matlock ; .... This was the first edition of his guide.

[2] The Royal Assent was given and the Matlock Bath Improvement Act became law on 4 August, 1905. It paved the way for the Kursaal to be built and granted permission for the Urban District Council to buy or compulsorily purchase land and buildings for its plans. Matlock Bath Council had compulsorily purchased the stables site from Messrs. Briddon under the 1905 Improvement Act ("Derby Daily Telegraph," 16 October 1908).

[3] Reminiscences of the late Mr. Frank Clay, from his private papers and notes owned by the web mistress. Furniss' booking hall can be seen on The Fish Pond (1), 1911 - 14

[4] The Briddon family was living in Matlock Bath in the 1881 census | the 1891 census and the 1901 census. Herbert Briddon advertised in Kelly's 1895 Directory and Kelly's 1899 Directory

[5] William Furniss advertised in both Kelly's 1908 Directory and Kelly's 1916 Directory

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 25 March 1893.

[7] "Belper News", 20 November 1908. Official Baiting. A Matlock Council's Sport.

[8] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 18 February 1909.