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Famous Derbyshire Health Resorts. The Matlocks, about 1892 - Part 1

View from Cat Tor 1892

Derwent Gardens & Switchback (1)

Ferry House

An early twentieth century view of the hotel from Cat Tor; it is very late Victorian as the original photograph for this postcard was taken in or around 1900.

In 1910 the hotel experienced some financial problems, which were obliquely referred to in the Derby paper. "One does not like to hear of an old establishment like the New Bath Hotel, at Matlock Bath, encountering any of the worries or anxieties that vex most mundane institutions. The New Bath is not the oldest Inn in the Matlocks, but it can, of course, boast a very considerable measure of antiquity. Sixty years ago it was known as Ivatt's and Jordan's .... has recently undergone great alterations, been refurnished, and other improvements carried out. The gardens, which are tastefully laid out, and adorned with shrubs and flowers, contain a magnificent lime tree"[1]. There is photographic evidence of the staked tree (unfortunately not available), which Henry Moore[2], Thomas Tyack[3] and William Adam[4] described as resembling a Banyan tree! The garden plants from Thomas Tyack's times, as well as the lime tree, are discussed in his "Famous Derbyshire Health Resorts - The Matlocks"[3].

According to another report, the lime tree at Matlock Bath developed from a twig of a tree under which Napoleon used to sit at St. Helena, pondering his dramatic downfall[5]. An early visitor to the hotel described the tree in a poem as covering about a rood of ground and with branches being supported by forty nine stakes. Some time before 1910 a tremendous wind storm had swept through the hotel's grounds, and the lime tree suffered considerable damage[1]. The tree still looks huge in this picture, indicating that the original photograph for this card was taken before the tree was damaged[6]. On 19 July 1912 what remained of the tree was blown down, leaving only the stump[6]. What is interesting in later pictures of the hotel, after the pool was built in 1934, is that you can still see the curve of the path where the tree had been.

Derby Daily Telegraph, 22 August 1921.

"Calling at the New Bath Hotel at Matlock Bath the other day, we enquired about its once famous lime tree. But nothing remains of it apart from what may possibly be its stump. The space it covered is now a closely shaven lawn. This tree had weathered more than three hundred years, and was a marvel of arboreal growth. Its widespread branches, propped up in many places, canopied an area of nearly 90 yards in circumference, and it measured fourteen feet around the trunk. Looking up a reference on our return, we gather that the beautiful tracery on its bark, fissured in numberless ways, resembled ways, resembled the fretted work of a rich gothic window".

Letter to the Editor from Horace Weir, dated August 8th 1921.

On the road below the hotel is a building that was used as a roadhouse but was part of the hotel, connected to it by an underground passage. In 1891 the Brewster Sessions discussed the fact that the then manager, Thomas Tyack, was using it not only as a billiard room but both stored and sold alcoholic drinks from the premises and the building did not have a separate license[7]. Behind the roadhouse you can see the edge of the tufa shelf, quarried for the stone from before the First World War[8]. Advertisements for the proposed hotel sale in 1895 said that "the valuable bed of Tufa, estimated at 10,000 Tons, would command ready sale"[9]. The bottom picture shows the extent of the quarrying that took place along the hotel's boundary with Derby Road.

Bottom right, on the banks of the river, are the Derwent Gardens with the relatively newly open Switchback Railway in the grounds. At the end of the gardens closest to the camera is what appears to be a vegetable garden and a small building, whilst at the other end of the Derwent Gardens are the buildings of the Ferry House and the Fishpond Stables which were later demolished to make way for the Grand Pavilion.

A sepia version of the above. The path around the tree stands out on all three images and another path leads up to a gate
in the wall on the Clifton Road boundary. It was probably created for the guests who wanted to access the Royal
Pavilion, or perhaps visit the Cumberland Cavern. The gate is still in situ today.

Not all the houses on Clifton Road had been built when the first two images were published; for example Garforth, at the bottom of the path up to the Cumberland Cavern, is not on this image. However, although it is hard to see here, the wooden hut at the Clifton Road entrance to the grounds of the Palais Royal (formerly the Royal Pavilion) is at the bend in the road. Behind Glenside, also on Clifton Road, is a small cottage that was demolished well before the 1950s when only a few low stone walls remained.

A year or two later. Garforth on Clifton Road, the large house on the corner next to the footpath that used to lead
up to the Cumberland Cavern, had been built. The property is not shown on the earlier views.
The shrubs behind the Road House and Win Tor have also grown a little,
both protecting the hotel from the road below and hiding some of the quarrying.
At the bottom of the steeply sloping Cumberland field is a patch of white. It perhaps was an area that served as a
rubbish tip for a time but this may be incorrect.

Read the a poem about The New Bath Hotel, its Lime Tree and the 49 stakes (scroll down).
Another view of the hotel and its grounds, with the lime tree still standing, can be seen in the Just Images section.

There is more about the New Bath Hotel

1. "Matlock Bath, from Jacob's Heights" [sic].The caption is incorrect as the picture was taken from Cat Tor. No publisher details provided. Inland ½d stamp, foreign 1d. Unposted.
Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Pauline Jordan.
2. "Matlock Bath from Cat Tor". Published by Jno. M. White, Derwent Arcade, Matlock Bath. Derwent Series. Phototyped in Berlin. Unused. Stamp box: Inland ½d. Foreign 1d.
3. "Matlock Bath From Cat Tor". Published by Photochrom Co. Ltd, London. No number. Unused.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only

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

[1] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 8 November 1910.

[2] Read Henry Moore (1818) "Picturesque Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath", pp.27 - 32

[3] See "Famous Derbyshire Health Resorts. The Matlocks, about 1892 - Part 1". I have seen a photograph of the staked tree, but I d not own a copy (web mistress).

[4] Adam, W. (1857, 6th edition) "The Gem of the Peak; or Matlock Bath and Its Vicinity". ...

[5] "Derby Mercury", 1 August 1900.

[6] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 26 July 1912.

[7] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 29 August 1891. Brewster Sessions.

[8] Reminiscences of the late Mr. Frank Clay, from his private papers and notes owned by the web mistress.

[9] "Derby Mercury", Wednesday, 21 Aug 1895. One of George Marsden's lengthy advertisements about the sale..