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Rockside Hydro, Matlock : Staff New Year's Eve Ball, about 1939
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The staff of Rockside Hydro, Matlock enjoying their New Year's Eve Ball in about 1939
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Rockside in Matlock Training College Brochure 1946-47

Summer School 1952

Staff & Students 1955

Studying at Rockside, 1954-6

Commemoration Weekends, 1955 & 1956

Staff & Students 1958

This photograph, taken around the time of the outbreak of the second war and may even have been the last staff ball ever to take place at the hydro. It has been contributed by Bubbles, whose mother worked at Rockside as a young woman and served "silver service". She's the young lady in front of the chef. Silver service was and is a method of serving food to guests as they are seated at a table. Briefly, the waiter/waitress has to serve from the left and take away from the right, and tables are "set" or laid following strict guidelines. If a waiter/waitress brings a plate of food from the kitchen and puts it down in front of the guest this is not silver service.

Similar events took place at other hydros and would have been very popular with the staff as, for once, the tables were turned and the hydro's guests served the staff. For example, on the night of 3 Jan 1935 Matlock's largest hydros - Smedley's, Rockside, and Chatsworth - held their staff balls, and the guests totalled about 1,000 people. "Topsy-turvydom," as it was apparently known locally, was by then an old-established custom, having originated years before when the hydros' visitors decided to take the place of staff for one night in appreciation of the service they received. They became porters and waitresses[1]. This was a real treat for people who mostly worked a seven day week. Nevertheless, some considered that being in service was a good job and the workers were "well off".

It wasn't just the hydro staff who took pleasure in these occasions. The balls were also enjoyed by the visitors to Rockside and elsewhere and was an event they also looked forward to. One unnamed guest, who had thoroughly enjoyed the much earlier 1909 Christmas celebrations, wrote that hoped that he would repeat the pleasure of spending Christmas with the Misses and Mr. Goodwin at Rockside. "For this occasion visitors don the cap and apron" to serve both the invited guests and the staff. He or she said they were all amateurs, but that was obviously part of the fun[2].

Enlargement of left hand side.

Enlargement of right hand side.

There is more about Rockside




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Kitchen Staff & Waitresses 1920-5

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Claremont & Mr Rowland

Image scan and information about the photograph supplied by and copyright Bubbles.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
Please email, using the contact link in the footer, if you recognise any of the people, including Bubbles' mother.


[1] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 04 January 1935.
[2] "Derbyshire Courier", 04 January 1910.