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Matlock Bath: South Parade, 1910 - the Roads & Boden's Restaurant
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Percy Rowbottom's photo shows the very tall policeman who was stationed at Matlock Bath
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Mr. Buxton's Royal Museum & the Great Petrifying Well

South Parade and the Heights of Abraham, 1905

Boden's shop

The Grand Pavilion, from Temple Walk, 1911-20

Glove factory

Percy Rowbottom's photograph shows one of the covered brakes or wagonettes that Firth had described a couple of years before this card was posted, somewhat unflatteringly, as spoiling the village. He wrote of "the bawling of the drivers of brakes and waggonettes[1]". Anyway, there is only one on this picture and it looks quite charming to the modern eye though would, undoubtedly, have been fairly noisy as it rattled along and the drivers shouted out to warn unwary pedestrians. On the edge of the pavement next to the charabanc are two cyclists, wearing suits and panama hats.

Rowbottom was standing on the pathway going up the hill beside the Fish Pond Hotel to take his picture and we can see painted advertisements for both the Fish Pond's stabling on the side of the shop wall facing the camera and for the hotel and Burton's Beers on the left of the picture. Standing outside the Fish Pond Hotel's forecourt at the bottom of the picture is Matlock Bath's very tall policeman, whose name the web mistress does not know but who has passed into the village's history because of his size!

Whilst the road surface looks reasonable in a picture taken on a fine summer's day, there was a major problem with the local roads, especially in the winter or when wet. Broken limestone had been used in their construction, covered with mud and rolled wet[2]. It had proved to be totally unsuitable material for the heavier motor traffic that was now using the local highways. Thick dust in the summer, dirty and with thick mud in the winter. In addition, because the roads were narrow most vehicles travelled down the centre of the road[3]. Their wheels were churning up the surface and puddles were forming in the middle of the road; the road surfaces were therefore not draining properly.

In early 1910 Matlock Bath's surveyor, Mr. H. W. A. Carter, raised the issue at a Council meeting, complaining about the amount of mud on the roads, particularly in the Dale. It had to be removed with a scraper, which was very labour intensive. Councillor Pearson observed that the motors splashed up the mud and the footpaths were as dirty as the roads. Unfortunately, the County Council had disallowed £85 from the previous year's road maintenance contract. Material laid the previous year was already having to be repaired but without money not a great deal could be done. The Council decided to complain to the County Councillor, Mr. Marsden-Smedley[3].

Problems with the surface of the roads were not just confined to Matlock Bath. Matlock's road were in a similar condition[2].

The large building next to the fish pond was Boden's Refreshment Rooms building (advertisement below) which was later used by the glove factory and burnt down in 1929. The Boden family also ran a bakers and confectioners, jut behind where the two women are walking on the left hand pavement.

Side view of Boden's restaurant, enlarged from another postcard.
See Fish Pond Stables, Matlock Bath, 1907

The first reference I have been able to find for the restaurant was in 1878 when Joseph Smithard, who doing lettering for the restaurant, fell off some scaffolding[4]. Presumably this was around the time it opened. A couple of months later Wirksworth Brewster Sessions granted John Boden a licence for his shop, but not for his restaurant[5]. Boden's began to supply food for other venues and it would seem that they were major caterers in the district; for example in 1881 they catered for a lunch for those attending a sale of shorthorn at Hopton Hall[6] and in 1886 there was a Volunteer's Ball at Wirksworth that Boden's, "whose catering always gives great satisfaction", provided the refreshments for[7]. To give an idea about how many the restaurant would hold, when a soiree was held in 1882 "at the popular house of entertainment known as Boden's Restaurant" there were about 330 attendees[8]. Nor was it empty when the tourist season had ended. In 1883 a six week cookery school began at Boden's Restaurant, with Mr. S. C. Clarke, of Masson House, elected as its president[9].

1903 advertisement

Things became more difficult for the restaurant during the First World War, highlighted when Mr. Boden went before a tribunal in October 1916 to appeal against his sole baker being enlisted as he would find it difficult to continue his business. The employee's exemption was conditional on Mr. Boden's son joining up[10], something that did not have a happy outcome for the Boden family[11]. In January 1918 the restaurant was the venue for a wedding[12] but was to close and then the premises were taken over by the glove factory.

Post war photographs that included the building can be seen on Matlock Bath: The Grand Pavilion, 1920s.

1. "South Parade, Matlock Bath". Royal Series, Photo, Percy Rowbottom, Matlock Bath. Posted Matlock Bath 9 Sep 1910 and sent to a lady in Eastbourne. The photograph was probably taken before 1910.
2. Advertisement from "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated." (1903) Abel Heywood & Son, Manchester & London.
3. " Matlock Bath". No publisher.
All images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London.

[2] "Belper News," 28 January 1910.

[3] The state of the roads and their construction was commented on by both Farmer, P. L. (1964) "Matlock over the Years, 1897-1964" and the recollections of Frank Clay in private papers owned by the web mistress.

[4] "Derbyshire Courier", 6 July 1878.

[5] "Derbyshire Times", 7 September 1878.

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 1 October 1881.

[7] "Derby Mercury", 20 January 1886. Dancing "was vigorously kept up until about 8.30 the following morning". Who says the Victorians didn't know how to let their hair down and party!!

[8] "Derbyshire Times", 25 March 1882.

[9] "Derbyshire Times", 29 September 1883.

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

[11] See Frank Wigley Boden's name on Matlock Bath's War Memorial.

[12] "Derbyshire Courier", 19 January 1918.