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Matlock Bath: Warm Wells Toll Bar
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The toll bar at the south end of Matlock Bath
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The photograph of Warm Wells hung on the chimney wall in the Standard 1 / Standard 2 classroom at Holy Trinity School in Matlock Bath for many years[1]; the toll house wasn't all that far from the school. Of the three approaches to the New Bath, Warm Wells was on the middle one that joined Derby Road next to what was a roadside bar in the early and mid twentieth century[2]. As with all toll houses, the building protruded forward into the roadway. There were windows on several sides to provide good visibility so the toll keeper could see approaching carriages and carts. The road leaving the gate, towards the camera, becomes wider.

There are photographs or postcards displayed in the window and an external picture frame contains even more pictures. On the right front is also a large signboard which perhaps advertised the toll charges, although that is speculation on the web mistress's part as the board is not facing the camera. It could equally have been advertising the petrifying well that was close by.

To the modern eye this may seem an odd place for the toll house to be situated but it was built beside the old road through the village. It was described in several nineteenth century tour guides[3], although they are easy to misinterpret and others have concluded this building was at the bottom of the Wapping[4]. However, this was not the case.

The buildings immediately behind the toll house were opposite Matlock Bath School, behind the bakery, petrifying well and the bus stop[5]. There were steps down so pupils who lived either Clifton Road, as the web mistress did for some years, would use them as a short cut until they became too dangerous. Before they were demolished these buildings had been home to the Concert family and to relatives of the Hoylands in the 1940s[6]. On my large size photograph the New Bath Hotel is unmistakable at the top of the road. Whilst the toll bar and, later, the other buildings may have been demolished the two pillars of the toll's gateway were kept and have been moved to outside the New Bath Hotel.

Warm Wells is mentioned in the Will of John Swift of Scarthin, 1776 (scroll down).

Photograph in the collection of, provided band y © Ann Andrews, one of several images given to me by my late father.
Information written and researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

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

[1] Information from conversations with my late father, Frank Clay, and confirmed by Ken Smith. The web mistress also remembers the picture being there.

[2] This refreshment bar (Road-House) is shown on Matlock Bath from Cat Tor and on Matlock Bath from Cat Tor (2).

[3] There are several vague references to the toll house in the tour guides. See, for example, Hall's "Days in Derbyshire", 1863 and Barker's "Panorama of Matlock", 1827

[4] In "Gem of the Peak", William Adam's mentions the King's Head, Skidmore's shop and some lodging houses, all of which were at the bottom of the Wapping.

[5] In 2001/2 the late Brian Hadfield emailed me from Blackpool. He had lived in Matlock Bath, next door to the school, for a little while. He wrote that "opposite my house was a bakers run by a Mr. Beck who I used to help, or more likely hinder. He also had a petrifying well directly underneath the shop". Also see Matlock Bath Today (5)

[6] Information from a conversation with Ken Smith. One of the Concerts was a school friend of Brian Hadfield.