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Matlock Dale: High Tor, the Rock Face & the View Beyond
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The Rock Face (1)

The Giddy Edge

Dale Road From High Tor

Switzerland View

A number of images that show the wall above the tunnel. See, for example:

The Weir & the High Tor Tunnel

High Tor & Artists' Corner

Another view into the Dale from this photographer

Pop works

The two images here, from the publisher Donlion, are also of the rock face of High Tor but in addition present a wider view of the landscape beyond. The first photo looks at what Sneath described in the previous image as the Giddy Edge. The photographer is high up on the Tor, looking down into the Dale below and most especially into the cavernous scar known as Long Tor Quarry and its surrounding buildings. A little further away is Matlock Bath station and its sidings, with the Station Quarry behind. The large field above the woods of Lovers' Walks in the centre of the picture was known as Key's field and the Black Rocks are in the distance.

Long Tor was a working quarry when this picture was taken. At blasting time spectators would gather at the quarry entrance, although it is unclear, in the newspaper article below, whether they watched the whole thing or arrived once the huge chunks of stone were safely down.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 20 September 1920

A large fall of limestone rock at the Long Tor Quarry, Matlock Dale, drew a considerable number of spectators on Saturday from among the residents and visitors.
The quarry is unique in that the formation of the rock is glacial, and from time to time the rocks are loosened or blasted away.
Altogether the latest fall totals at least 9,000 tons, and there is still another block of at least 5,000 tons to come down. The rock broke away in blocks, some of which are 20 tons weight.

The quarry owner in early 1920 was Mr. Tom Bridge, a stone merchant who had previously run the Queen's Head Hotel on Matlock's Dale Road. He died in 1922[1].

Unfortunately, as well as giving pleasure to climbers and visitors, the Tor has seen a number of accidents of varying severity over the years. For example, in June 1911 two female visitors to Matlock Bath had what was later described as an alarming experience when "they narrowly avoided being dashed to pieces on the High Tor". They arrived at the station early one morning, hoping to climb to the summit. Probably because of the time of day they had chosen, there was nobody around to help them. They chose an old footpath used by lead miners instead of the normal route. This track was afterwards described as treacherous and full of stones, on a part of "the hill that is almost perpendicular". They persisted with their walk and eventually arrived at an extremely steep downwards slope. It was here they realised they were in in an extremely difficult situation and, seemingly, panicked. One of the the pair slipped down about 20 feet before her fall was broken by a wall close to the ventilation hole in the High Tor Tunnel, which had been built to stop stones falling onto the track. The other woman lay down and began to scream for help until Midland Railway staff came to the rescue. One man climbed out of the tunnel to assist the woman who had fallen; she was apparently lowered into the tunnel and then taken to safety. The second woman was helped retrace her steps and the two were re-united[2].

The top postcard shows that the station is some distance from even the base of High Tor and the two women had gone past this point to end up where they did. A closer look at this footpath itself shows both bare rock and gravel; the gravel would be slippery and the rock was lethal as there were jagged points that anyone could trip over, even with suitable footwear.

In September the same year a 13 year old boy, who had arrived with a party of 500 from the Co-operative Boot Company of Rushden, ascended the Tor with his friends. He was not with them all the time and had the misfortune to have fallen asleep whilst reading. He apparently rolled down the slope and was unconscious when he was eventually found. Apart from the shock, he had some kind of neck injury but was well enough to return home[3]. So these three people seem to have had lucky escapes. Not everyone did.

The edge of Long Tor Quarry was creeping closer and closer to Brunswood House.
On the quarry floor, close to the road, we can see rather inappropriate and unsightly hoardings which would have done nothing to
protect either Nestors (by the entrance), the three houses of Dale Terrace and the four homes of Brunswood Terrace.
What looks to be a hole half way along the bottom of the quarry face could be an old tunnel.

The second Donlion image shows some of the grandeur of The Rock Face (1) but is a slightly different view of the Dale, taking in the Victoria Tower on the Heights of Abraham. We can't really see Cromford Hill although we can just about make out the Wirksworth Road, but we can also see the Old Pavilion (Palais Royal) over the top of Long Tor Quarry. The vista extends round to the cottages above Riversdale.

We can see three quarries, in a line. Long Tor, just below the "nose" of the lion on High Tor,
was the most extensive. The middle quarry was behind Mrs. Whittaker's home was
and a third one can be seen behind the semi-detached houses that were demolished
following a rock fall in the 1960s. See: High Tor, Switzerland View.
Stone was only extracted from Long Tor in the twentieth century.


1. "Cliff Edge Path to High Tor, Matlock, Peak District". Donlion Productions, Doncaster, No.25.24. British Manufacture. Copyright Real Photograph. Not posted.
2. "Switzerland View High Tor, Matlock, Peak District". Donlion Productions, Doncaster, No. 25:28. British Manufacture. Unused.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
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] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 4 February 1922. Death of Thomas Bridge (53), a well known limestone quarry owner at the Long Tor.

[2] "Derbyshire Courier", 10 June 1911 and "Belper News" 16 June 1911. Ladies Terrible Plight.

[3] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 8 September 1911.