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Matlock Bath: The Grand Pavilion, 1930s
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Operatic Society

Matlock Bath Amateur Players

Cinema House, 1922

Travelling by Motor Charabanc

The 1930s began for the Pavilion with a new dance floor and a Great Exhibition and ended with the War and the fitting of an air raid siren. The lower room had provided temporary accommodation for the glove factory after it had been destroyed by fire in 1929. After they departed for Chelmsford the room's dance floor was re-instated, the work costing £250. The Urban Council then decided to let the room for roller skating but, unfortunately, by August that year they leaned that it was rapidly being ruined by the roller skating. The building's Cinema had closed as they were losing money, so tenders were invited for hiring the building out as an amusements centre. The applications were considered but the Council then decided not to let the Pavilion at all at that time[1].

For ten days in April 1931 Matlock Chamber of Trades held a home, industry, and fashion exhibition, which was attended by 5,000 more people than were expected. It included an exhibition of reptiles and animals by the explorer Major Sarlls which proved to be very popular with local schoolchildren who were given free admission on the first day. There was even a ladies day which was opened by the Marchioness of Hartington[2].

However, at the end of the year Council members expressed their concern about both Pavilions and Mr. W. Jacques said there was no inside place of amusement for residents or people in the surrounding district. Both he and L. G. Wildgoose thought that Matlock Bath needed livening up, considering it high time both Pavilions were advertised although the latter observed that it was no use surrounding possible lettings of the Grand Pavilion by so many restrictions that nobody would want to use it[3].

The Operatic Society booked the Pavilion for a performance of "The Yeomen of the Guard" in 1932 as they were unable to use the Cinema House in Matlock, but lost £63 18s. 4d[4]. Whether this was because the venue was unable to hold enough people is unclear. Plays were also performed. For example, in 1934 the Matlock Bath Amateur Players presented "The Whole Town's Talking" in front of an audience of about 500 people[5]. The building was also used for balls, and at least three police balls were held here in the 1930s[7].

The postcard above has the words "Grand Pavilion Theatre" written above the main door and "Picture House" is at the top of the two arched recesses beside the door and glass cases showing what was on and pictures of the stars. Film shows, which began in the late 1920s, restarted in 1932 after a break of almost two years; the then proprietor of the Pavilion Cinema invited old-age pensioners living within a five-mile radius to visit the cinema free of charge on Tuesdays[7]. In 1936 Matlock Cinemas, Ltd. leased the Grand Pavilion from Matlock Urban Council. The lease stipulated that the cinema company should "provide high-class entertainment at suitable times," and the building would be open on Sundays[8].

The postcard shows happier times in the 30s. A couple of coaches were in the Pavilion's car park and people were clustering round the fish pond, undoubtedly admiring the fish. Cycles were propped against the kerbside. Cycling to Matlock Bath was very popular, and continued to be so after the War. Cyclists would travel with members of their particular club from other parts of the county, eat an egg and chip tea (with bread and butter) in one of the cafes that catered for cyclists and return home the same day.

pavilion and buses

The second postcard dates from the early 1930s and shows the Pavilion's car park full of buses, cars and a charabanc or two, all of which had conveyed non-cycling visitors to the village for the day. The area in front of the Pavilion's main door was completely full of vehicles. Whilst it is hard to see, both the lamp that used to be on the obelisk at the bottom of Temple Road is visible and one of the transepts of Holy Trinity Church can also be seen. The church spire isn't in the photo, though.


The third picture was dated Summer 1938. It was the last full season before the Second World War and it had been successful for both Matlock and Matlock Bath. A Council meeting in October learned from the statement of pleasure grounds receipts that there had been "increases in almost every direction". The revenue from the Grand Pavilion and its parking ground was £297 0s 3d compared with takings of £263 4s 3d. in the previous year[9]. War was declared on 3 September 1939 and a couple of weeks later Matlock Cinemas, Ltd., announced that they would not show pictures at the Grand Pavilion for the time being because of the War. The County A.R.P. Controller informed the Council that an air-raid warning siren was to be installed at Matlock Bath[10].

Grand Pavilion
(Kursaal) 1910-12

Grand Pavilion
(The Kursaal) 1915

Pavilion, Obelisk & Spar Shop

Grand Pavilion,

Grand Pavilion 1920s

The Ballroom, before 1928

Pavilion, 1938

Pavilion Grounds

Industrial Exhibition 1946

Musical Festival 1961

Top postcard: "Matlock Bath", No58.137_. Not posted. In the collection of provided by and © Christine Leila Hill.
Second postcard: "Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. Published by R. Sneath", Paradise St., Sheffield, No.6321. Posted in Matlock on 3 Sep 1936. In the collection of provided by and © Ken Smith.
Third postcard: "Fish Pond and Pavilion, Matlock Bath". Mat. B. 40. In the collection of, provided by and © Susan Tomlinson.
Researched and written by and © Ann Andrews. Intended for personal use only

References (coloured links lead to more on site information):

[1] "Alfreton Journal" The Matlocks' Progress. Chairman Reviews the Work of the Urban Council. Also "Derbyshire Times", 2 August 1930.

[2] "Derby Daily Telegraph", various reports on 16, 17, 21 and 27 April 1931.

[3] "ibid.", 15 December 1931. Matlock Bath and its Pavilions. Derelict condition alleged at Council meeting.

[4] "ibid.", 3 February and 20 October 1932.

[5] "ibid.", 12 April 1934. This was a three-act comedy.

[6] "ibid.", 6 March 1936. The ball that year was the 18th annual ball and was arranged by Matlock and district police officers in aid of the Derbyshire Constabulary Widows and Orphans. Police balls were also held at the Pavilion in 1932 and 1934.

[7] "ibid.", 3 May 1932.

[8] "ibid.", 5 May 1936. Matlock Grand Pavilion Lease. When the lease was signed part of the building was expected to be used as a cinema and part as an amusement park.

[9] "ibid.", 28 October 1938. Increases in takings at Matlock.

[10] "ibid.", 25 September 1939. Matlock Council meeting.