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Matlock Bath: Lovers' Walks, 1914
Matlock Bath : Twentieth Century Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
Two young women seated next to the river
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The Ferry, 1836
shows this building

Lovers' Walks, brief history

Lovers' Walks 1901

Steps & Woodland Walk

Lovers' Walks & River Derwent

Lovers' Walks (Edwardian)

Although war had been declared before the top card was posted, visitors were still staying in Matlock Bath's hotels. In early October 1914 the Royal Hotel was almost fully booked[1]. The photograph shows two young women (or girls) on one of the riverside seats, this one outside the Ladies' Shelter & Lavatories. The building had formerly been a spar shop and for many years it was run by Thomas Walker. They young women were probably locals. Perhaps they had been dropped off by the gentleman in the boat, or they could have been rowed across from the landing stage on the opposite bank.

Seventeen years before this a committee of Matlock Bath UDC had decided to let the sale shop on Lovers' Walks, although it is unclear whether they actually did so[2]. In 1903 the Council recommended that the shop "be not let at present, but the Surveyor had been instructed to prepare plans for turning these alcove buildings into a public convenience"[3]. A month later Mr Jaffrey had submitted plans to the Boating Committee regarding the "proposed public convenience and ladies' shelter on the site of the old alcove shops in the Lovers' Walks", and was it recommended that a sum of £100 should set aside to cover the costs[4].

In 1913 Matlock Bath's Council made what was considered to be an important step that would affect the crowds of excursionists who visited the Spa. The Promenades had been closed and an admission charge of 2 pence per. person had been levied. This was to change, with the Promenade free and for access to the Lovers' Walks to be reduced to a penny per. person[5].

The second picture pre-dates the top picture by several years and may even have been taken around the turn of the century. There were plenty of seats for people who were waiting to cross the river via the ferry. A number of boats are moored against the bank, including the ferry, but it is the ivy covered shop building that is of interest. There is no seat outside. Instead, there are two wooden supports and it looks as if it might have been a collection point for logs, though it could equally be a seat that has disappeared under the foliage. An intriguing sign on the tree announces "Ferns Collected". This might have something to do with the Arkwrights as there was a fernery at Willersley and their ferns were far famed.
See more on: Willersley Castle, the Lodge & Gardens of the Arkwrights

A young boy named Joe Peat sent this card to his father, who was in Derby Royal Infirmary for some reason. The message is worth repeating as it is delightful, as children's messages to their parents usually are. "Dear Dadda/ Wish you were here with Mag and I enjoying ourselves. Hope you [are] getting better now / Joe. Maggie put the stamp on" - he clearly felt the need to comment about this as it was at a decided angle, but it was also her contribution.

The former spar shop is still standing on Lovers' Walks although is now a shelter. The glass has also gone, so the interior is open to the elements.

1. No title. Photographic postcard sent from The Royal Hotel, Matlock Bath on 7 Oct 1914 by J. S. Harrison to his daughter Lily in Barnsley.
This postcard could have been produced for the hotel as there is no publisher's name on the back.
2. "Lovers Walk, Matlock Bath". No publisher. Posted on 2 Aug 1906 in Matlock Bath.
Both images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Beresford, Charles "The Bath at War, A Derbyshire Community and the Great War" (2007). Country Books/Ashridge Press. ISBN 978 1 901214 91 8.

[2] "Derbyshire Times", 15 May 1897.

[3] "ibid", 16 May 1903.

[4] "ibid", 13 June 1903.

[5] "Sheffield Evening Telegraph", 8 May 1913. Privileges for the Public at Matlock.