Development of the tourist industry in Matlock Bath

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17/11/2023 19:30 - 21:00
St. Mary's Church Hall
Address: Darley Lane, Derby, DE1 3AX

Speaker: Doreen Buxton

The talk traces the story of Matlock Bath from a private bathing place fed by a rather cold mineral spring at Matlock Wood at the end of the seventeenth century to a rural spa called Matlock Bath, with three bathing establishments able to accommodate about four hundred and fifty visitors, at the turn of the eighteenth. By then it was spoken of alongside Bath, Buxton and Tunbridge Wells but for many visitors it was the attractions of its scenic setting which tipped the balance in its favour. When the railway arrived in the 1840's, Matlock Bath had to reinvent itself at rather short notice. It became a destination for day trippers whose needs and expectations differed from those of its staying guests. Gradually the Victorian north end of the village was developed and slowly the day visitors' practical needs were addressed. The Arkwright family added the High Tor Grounds to the Georgian pleasure grounds, Lover's Walk and the Heights of Abraham; the survival of all three has served to restrict building development in the valley and still contributes hugely to Matlock Bath's sense of place.

Doreen claims no qualifications to attach local historian to her name, only a very long interest in the Derbyshire area in which she grew up, Matlock Bath and Cromford in particular. Attending local history evening workshops many years ago, led to working as a volunteer jack- of -all trades for the Arkwright Society at Cromford Mills when more focussed research became a passion. In collaboration with Christopher Charlton and on behalf of the charity, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Educational Trust, the results have been recorded in two books Cromford Revisited and Matlock Bath, a Perfectly Romantic Place.

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