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Matlock Bath: The river behind South Parade's shops and businesses
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Road Widening at Matlock Bath, 1967

River Derwent & the Devonshire Hotel, 1890

Mr. Buxton's Royal Museum & the Great Petrifying Well

Buxton's Museum, interior

Shows the front of the garage

Timetables and tickets

Smith's Royal Museum Petrifying Well

View from Lovers' Walks, 1950s

The buildings in the pictures on this page were all torn down when the A6 trunk road was widened in the 1960s. Parts of the main road were not wide enough and the properties that were in the way had to go. Fortunately, a number of postcards are left to remind us how pretty the riverside between the old Devonshire Cafe and the Grand Pavilion used to be. It is still attractive, but in a different way today.

This group of pictures were taken in the 1920s and 1930s. In the first three images we can see the landing stage below what was Smith's Petrifying Well, workshop and Tea Gardens (it is bottom left, above). Here was one of the places along the river where rowing boats could be hired during the summer months and was also where the family launched their decorated boats over many years. They won many prizes at the Venetian Fêtes (as they used to be called)[1]. The top post card shows the portion of the riverbank between the Smiths' property and the Devonshire Café. We can see the back of the Spa garage, later a garage for the North Western bus company. This building was sold to Derbyshire County Council in 1936 and was then used as a works yard[2]. The canopy was in Hodgkinson's hotel yard. The yard had formerly been gardens, part of the hotel, and had sold "intoxicating liquor" since about 1850. The sale of liquor was questioned at the Brewster Sessions in 1890 when the local police argued that it should not be licensed as the highway passed between the two properties. However, the magistrates' clerk said the public only had a right of way over the highway, the Bench agreed and it was decided that the gardens were licensed property[3].

The second view (above) is from a little further down the river. The building on the left was for many years Buxton's Museum. Bill Boden moved there in the late 1920s[4] and converted it into the Derwent Cafe. His daughters, who had married two Hardy brothers, still owned it when it was sold to the Ministry of Transport[2]. The wooden building in the bottom left hand corner must be part of the Great Petrifying Well.

The third picture (above) is a similar view but was taken somewhat earlier than the images above and below it. There is quite a lot of ivy on the back of the Museum building, which had been removed by the time the later pictures were taken.

The final picture (below) is an enlargement of the fourth postcard, showing the back of the three buildings beyond the Devonshire Cafe. Most of the Cafe itself is hidden behind a tree (4th image only).

Additional images:
Matlock Bath The River (it is in the "Just images" section of the site).
Matlock Bath View from River Derwent shows some of the boats tied up at Smith's landing stage (also in the "Just images" section).

1. River Derwent, Matlock Bath. A. W. Gessey, Bank Road, Matlock, No.117. Not posted.
2. "The River at Matlock Bath". No publisher, No.35537. Not posted.
Postcards 1 and 2 in the collection of, scanned and provided by and © Ann Andrews.
3." Matlock Bath". Collotype Postcard Picture by Judges' Ltd., Hastings, no.19840. Not posted, but published about 1934-5.
4. "The Derwent and Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath. Nene Series postcard, published by H. Coates, Wisbech, no. 2392. Not posted, but a slightly different card in the same series was posted in 1933.
5. Enlargement of image 4.
Postcards 3 and 4 in the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] See Venetian Fete (now Venetian Nights), decorated boats.
[2] Reminiscences of the late Mr. Frank Clay, from his private papers and notes owned by the web mistress.
[3] "Manchester Times", 29 August, 1890. Brewster (licensing ) Sessions. The owner of Hodgkinson's, Mr. S F Wheatcroft, was applying for a licence.
[4] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 19 May 1928. Sale notice for the Misses Buxton.