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Matlock Bath: South Parade, the Summer of 1914
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The majority of people in the picture are looking down the Parade towards the bend in the road. A horse drawn charabanc is stationary outside Hodgkinson's Hotel. Quite what the commotion was around the corner is not known but the policeman appears to be striding purposefully off to sort things out. The group of men standing in the shadows outside the Great Petrifying Well and Aquarium are oblivious, their eyes caught by something they can see through the railings.

Matlock Bath was said to be infuriated by the fairy tales of an over-imaginative press that were published in the London papers in early 1914. Local councillors were outraged by an announcement that Matlock Bath wished to change its name because "all the glory of its enterprise is audaciously appropriated by the neighbouring Matlock (minus the Bath)". Councillor White denounced this example of "inventive genius", saying that a photo of High Tor had also been published, with the claim that it was to be demolished![1] Reading between the lines, someone was clearly having a good laugh at Matlock Bath's expense but some of the councillors could not see the joke.

This picture was taken some time over the summer of 1914. In May that year the village attempted to re-introduce the ancient and picturesque Derbyshire custom of well-dressing, something that had been tried in the past - the last time thirty-five years before. Well-dressing was combined with a floral fete and Matlock Bath Improvement Association had promoted the event to further the interests of the village as a health and pleasure resort, but the attendance on the first couple of days was somewhat disappointing[2]. It perhaps should be said that well-dressing was not the long established custom in Matlock Bath as it was in other parts of Derbyshire.

When war was declared war on Germany on 4th August of that year things did not shut down completely but village life was to change. For a while Matlock Bath tried to continue as normal and a delayed regatta was held at the end of August[3], but there was no Venetian Fete.

On Thursday 20th August 1914 a German gentleman, William Stiewe, was arrested at Hodgkinson's Hotel under the Aliens' Act of 5th August 1914 for having failed to register himself. He had lived in England for about 20 years. The case was regarded as very serious and Mr. Stiewe was jailed for three months, with hard labour[4]. A little under a fortnight earlier three waiters from the Royal Hotel were arrested under the same act, but they were dealt with less harshly and were able to return to work. Nevertheless, those early days of the war were not comfortable ones for the village[5].

The booking hall for charabanc trips to Dovedale, Haddon Hall, Chatsworth and other local
tourist attractions was open for business. Motor landaulettes and touring cars could
also be hired from here. According to the 1911 census this was the office of Hand and Son.
The female on the left could be taking something to one of the riverside eating places.

Whilst this very brightly coloured picture of South Parade was posted in 1910 it is likely
to have been taken before then. Boden's Dining & Refreshment Rooms were open and Matlock
Bath was perhaps preparing for a busy day. The reason it is included here is because of what
appears to be a temporary wooden structure next door to Boden's. Presumably the pre-war
booking hall of Hands of Matlock, shown in the image immediately above, replaced it.

1 and 2. "South Parade, Matlock Bath". Valentine's "Phototype" Series, No.79510. Copyright Picture. Printed in Great Britain and published in 1914. Not posted.
3. "Matlock Bath". Published by A. E. Shaw & Co., Blackburn. West End Series. Posted on 26 Mar 1910 in Southampton and sent to Cannes.
All three images © Ann Andrews collection.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] "Derbyshire Courier", 24 January 1914.

[2] "Belper News", 29 May 1914. Festival at Matlock Bath.

[3] See a newspaper report about Matlock Bath Regatta.

[4] "Derbyshire Courier", 22 August 1914 - Mr. Stiewe was said to be well dressed and was employed as a commercial traveller. He lived in Southampton.

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