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Matlock Bath from the Heights of Abraham, 1892
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Fish Pond Stables 1907

The view shows Cat Tor, on the left, with the River Derwent below the limestone cliffs. There is a boat on the water. On the right hand bank of the river are the Derwent Gardens, although they were undeveloped in 1892, with Mr. Buxton's Switchback railway within the grounds. The Royal Hotel is just below the centre of the picture, seen here before the large annexe was built at the back. A little higher up, on the right, is the Royal Pavilion (later the Palais Royal), built and opened just 10 years before, and in the distance is Cromford Hill and Black Rocks.

Even in inclement weather visitors to Matlock Bath in 1892 were determined to enjoy themselves. The journalist known as the Eckington Jackdaw, one of a party of excursionists from the north Derbyshire village, arrived on a particularly wet day in July. "Matlock Bath in a deluge of rain ... did not strike me as being especially attractive. ... A slight abatement in the water supply tempting me, I ventured upon a walk. The main street in Matlock Bath was thronged with more or less bedraggled visitors, wandering aimlessly about with no apparent object beyond that of getting wet through. A few young people bent upon pleasure at any price, patronised the switchback railway, and for a time some life was put into our otherwise dismal surroundings by feminine shrieks - half in fun and half terror - as their carriages rose and fell in their eccentric course. Despite the rain, a limited number of individuals persisted in boating". Having observed the behaviour of some of those in hiring boats, Jackdaw was unsurprised to learn of a fatality on the river only a few days later[1].
Boating on the River Derwent, 1914

Amongst the guests staying at the Royal Hotel that year were the Right Hon Joseph Chamberlain, M.P., and his wife, who visited many of the nearby "show" places. Apparently, when it became known that he was staying in Matlock Bath many people were anxious to see him. The Derbyshire Times reported that some of the curious could not believe their eyes when they saw the slim, grey suited visitor[2].

During November Mr. Tyack, "the esteemed proprietor of the New Bath and Royal Hotels", hosted several distinguished visitors who stayed at his hotels over a period of three days. Derby races had brought them to Matlock Bath. Several people "of title" were amongst the visitors, as was a Mr Dunn, the "Chesterfield of the Turf", who the newspaper journalist described as a leviathan amongst bookmakers[3].

The black and white version of this photograph of the southern part of Matlock Bath, taken from the Heights of Abraham, was published in a guide book some forty years after it was taken. The Royal Hotel, or to be more accurate the section of it that is shown here, had been destroyed by fire in 1929, which makes it even more of an oddity that Ward Lock included such an out of date picture in their 1932 guide. I (web mistress) have several guides published before the First War and this picture is not in any of them.

This photograph was very out-of-date when it was published in Ward Lock's 1932 guide
Matlock Bath from the Heights of Abraham, from Ward Lock's 1932 guide.

The central section, from the River Derwent to the far side of the grounds of the Royal Hotel, is enlarged below.
At the bottom of all three images are the former Fish Pond Stables (centre, opposite the Fishpond Hotel).
They were demolished and the site was redeveloped to make way for the Grand Pavilion (Kursaal).

More views from the Heights of Abraham: More views from the Heights of Abraham:

19th century

the Heights

About 1914


After WW2

Cat Tor, 1913

Modern times

Ward Lock Guide
Cover, 1932/3 Guide
Also from this Guide

Lovers' Walks
Riverside Path

1. Postcard of "Matlock Bath from Heights of Abraham". Valentine Series, No.17457 (coloured version). Printed in Great Britain. Souvenir Postcard. Unused but first published in 1892.
2 and 3. "Matlock Bath, from the Heights of Abraham". Photograph, by Valentine & Sons Ltd., Dundee, from Ward Lock & Co's "Matlock, Dovedale, Bakewell and South Derbyshire", Illustrated Guide Books of England and Wales (1932-3).
Image in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Derbyshire Courier", 30 July 1892.

[2] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 27 August 1892. Gleanings of the Peak.

[3] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 19 November 1892. Notes by the Way.