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Matlock Bath: Museum Parade & The Pitchings, 1910
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The large bay window had been part of Mawe's and Adam's Museum

Edwardian Matlock Bath

South Parade and the Heights of Abraham, 1905

South Parade, 1909 card

South Parade, 1920s

Matlock Bath Buses
1912-33 (Part 2)

Charabancs in Matlock Bath in the 1920s

Dyson & Clough's
Filling Station

This beautifully clear black and white photograph was taken by Phil Williamson's grandfather, who was studying at the Royal College of Music in London for about 18 months between 1909/10. The young Australian was a keen, but amateur, photographer at that stage of his life. He did not carry on with it in quite the same way after he returned home, and only took the usual family snaps, etc. It is believed he used glass negatives, which gave the exceptional clarity and detail, for his British pictures but unfortunately these no longer exist. He travelled widely within the U.K., but he was probably interested in Derbyshire as his own grandmother (Sarah Webster) was born in Little Eaton in about 1824.

The Georgian buildings on the left, originally part of Matlock Bath's famous Great Hotel, are almost the same today. This was Museum Parade. The commercial premises closest to the camera was William Hackney's Household Stores. Hackney was a china dealer and his stores are also shown on another postcard on this web site.

The buildings on the right disappeared when the road was widened in the 1960s. Here was the entrance to Smiths' petrifying well and its Tea Gardens, behind where the female in the long white dress was standing. Also behind her was a large motor garage, which was newly built; today it would undoubtedly be considered to be out of keeping. The word "GARAGE" is painted on its roof.

Another sign, at the bottom of the very big bay window, also reads "GARAGE". The ground floor of this building, where Mr. Williams started out, was eventually used as a tyre store for Spa Motors and across the road was the Ernest Williams garage[3]. In 1908 this business was advertised as "E Williams & Co., motor engineers & garage[1]".

This was the very early days of motor vehicles in the village. On the original photograph you can almost read the number plate of the solitary car parked in the road. The car was most probably the one owned by the Williams garage (see below) and was sometimes driven by Mr. Le Blanc Smith[2].

To go back a few years, Ernest Williams had set up a cycle repair business in Matlock Bath about 1902[2], possibly initially with his father Charles[3]. Although both men were born in the Manchester area, Charles had brought up his family in Duddingston, Portobello, Midlothian where he worked as a Commercial Traveller until he moved to Matlock Bath[4]. As cars became more popular Ernie added car repairs to the business and sold accessories for them, which did very well.

In 1906 a young man called Guy Le Blanc Smith suggested that Ernest should start a garage. Williams had no capital to invest but Guy le Blanc Smith was reputed to have told him he could obtain the money to invest. So they went into business together in November that year, with the business in the Williams' name as it was already established. Smith had no experience of the trade whereas Williams had the practical knowledge[2]. Williams was to act as manager and E. Williams & Co. sold petrol as well as a number of cars and even bought a car to hire out, although the latter eventually turned out not to earn as much as they'd hoped after initially doing very well[2]. In May 1910 they had supplied a car to the local mail service, making it the first motorised mail service in Derbyshire[5].

However, a few months before - in February 1910 - Mr. Le Blanc Smith, who had built the garage on the opposite side of the road, was to change the firm into a limited company. Things went downhill from then on and in November 1910 Williams went to work in Derby. Mr. Le Blanc Smith even visited him at his new place of employment, asking him to consider returning to Matlock Bath, but nothing was happened despite a new agreement being drawn up between them. The disagreement was eventually sorted out in the High Court[2].

Just behind the Williams' car is part of Waterloo Road (The Pitchings), with a wedge-shaped building at the bottom of the hill. This was No. 1 North Parade and the building housed a Grocery & Confectionery shop, owned by Peter Reeds, at the time this picture was taken. There is a female standing outside the shop, probably Peter's wife Emma. She is wearing a long white apron[7].Their daughter was to marry Guy Le Blanc Smith. This photograph shows that the Reeds' property was then four storeys high. It was completely rebuilt, probably about 1923, by Williams Deacon's Bank who bought the premises in March 1919 and today there are only three storeys. The number has changed, too, as it is now 148 North Parade.
Compare the photograph with a modern drawing of The Pitchings
Photographs of Matlock Bath Today (3)

When Peter Reeds sold No.1 to the bank he transferred his business to No.2 North Parade[3], which was William John Smith's hairdressers and tobacconists at the time of this photo[8]. It became a shop unit only as the Smith family later lived on Waterloo Road. Next along, where the white screens are covering the doorway, was Hockin's jewellers[9]. One of Mr. Smith's sons went on to marry Mr. Hockin's daughter.

1903 advertisement from Heywood's Guide

1. Photograph kindly provided by and © Phil Williamson.
2. Advertisement from "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated." (1903) Abel Heywood & Son, Manchester & London.
Information researched and written by and © Ann Andrews. With additions by Colin Goodwyn.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured hyperlinks are to transcripts elsewhere on this website):

[1] Kelly's 1908 Directory.

[2] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 29 June 1912 and "Derby Daily Telegraph", 29 June 1912. Derbyshire Assizes. Nisi Prius Court. Friday. - Before Lord Coleridge. A Matlock Case. Claim for wrongful Dismissal. Ernest Williams v Guy Le Blanc Smith. Williams, the plaintiff, was of Matlock Bath and Le Blanc Smith of Whatstandwell was the defendant. Judgment, with costs, was awarded to the defendant although the garage retained Ernest Williams' name.

[3] Recollections of the late Mr. Frank Clay, from private papers and notes owned by Mrs. Doreen Buxton, some of which were written in 1992 and are still within copyright.

[4] The Williams family were shown in Scottish census returns between 1871 and 1901, although Charles Williams (1842-1916) was in Lincoln in 1891 and in Bedford in 1901. He had two shops in Matlock Bath, the first on North Parade and the second on South Parade. He sold the latter in 1911. He also worked as a photographer and picture framer. Ernest Williams (1867-1946) was a brewer in 1901. He joined up in WW1, serving in the No. 13 Corps Troops, M. T. Coy, and his home address was still given as Orchard Road in the Matlock Absent Voter's List (1918). He married Annie Frost in 1919.

[5] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 27 May 1910. The car was the first mail motor to bear the letters G. R. and was photographed being driven by Mr. F. Paine by Percy Rowbottom.

[6] William Hackney is known to have been at the Household Stores as he published postcards, one of which is elsewhere on this web site. He advertised in various directories including Kelly's 1899 Directory, Kelly's 1908 Directory and Kelly's 1912 Directory. However, in the 1901 census he was at No.2 South Parade.

[7] See Peter Reed's entry in the 1901 census and in Kelly's 1908 Directory or Kelly's 1916 Directory. Also his MI at Holy Trinity

[8] William John Smith was at 2 North Parade in the 1901 census, but did not stay at the address. The family moved to Kirkham House on Waterloo Road. See: Kelly's 1895 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory | Kelly's 1908 Directory.

[9] See Herbert Hockin the 1901 census. He had moved to no.2 by 1911. Also see: Kelly's 1908 Directory