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Matlock History

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Matlock is situated in Derbyshire, on the edge of the Peak District National Park, about 20 miles north of Derby. Until the 1830's Matlock was a hamlet whose principal industry was agriculture with lead mining and quarrying as subsidiary activities. The building of the mills at Cromford, by Richard Arkwrighrt in the late 18th century provided some employment for Matlock people but it was John Smedley, born 1803, who established Hydrotheraphy in Matlock and made it one of the most celebrated centres for the treatment of ailments with water theraphy, in the country.

He built the large building in Matlock Bank, home of the Derbyshire County Council since 1955, and with the arrival of the railway in 1849, Matlock's development as a spa town flourished for the next 100 years. At the turn of the 20th century more than 20 hydro's were operating. Trams use to ferry the visitors up to the hydro's, and Matlock had one of the steepest tramways in the country. The tram lines were taken up in 1927.

Smedley also built Riber Castle, which dominates the hillside above the town as a home for himself. It is now in ruins but until recently, housed a remarkable wildlife centre which specialized in rare and endangered species.

Interest in hydrotheraphy took a down turn with the development of the National Health Service, which never really approved or prescribed to 'fanciful treatments'.However, Matlock is still a very busy administrative, shopping and tourist centre, being the home of the Derbyshire Dales District Council as well as the Derbyshire County Council. There is also the Matlock Town Council.

Hall Leys Park is in the centre of the town and provides many recreational facilities, including tennis, miniture golf,a miniature railway, bowls, a childrens play area complete with paddling pool and a small boating lake.It's lovely setting also makes it a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of Matlock's busy shopping streets.

High Tor, situated between Matlock and Matlock Bath is dominated by a great limestone outcrop which towers almost 400 feet above the river Derwent. High Tor Grounds offer a network of paths enabling visitors to explore the area and experience the spectacular panoramic views from the top of the tor. In 1933 High Tor Grounds were listed as grade11 on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. They were restored by the Derbyshire Dales District Council after falling into disrepair and are maintained by them.

St Giles Church stands on a hill overlooking the town, with some fine views of the Derwent Valley, Riber Castle and the town below. It has a Perp west tower with diagonal buttresses but the rest was rebuilt in the 19th century. It contains a Norman font, some fine stained glass windows and memorials to the Wolley family who lived at Old Riber Hall.

In 1968 the railway between Matlock and Buxton, through the Peak District National Park, was closed leaving only a branch line to Derby. It had been part of the Midland Railways Line from Manchester to London. In 1975 a group of railway enthusiasts formed the Peak Railway Society with the aim of re-opening the line, which it did, between Matlock and Daley Dale in 1991. In 1997 the railway was further extended to a new station at Rowsley South, which now gives passengers a scenic round trip of 8 miles alongside the river Derwent. The railway runs most Sundays throughout the year, Saturdays as well, from April to October and mid week during the summer holidays. For eating out with a difference, the Peak Rail operates the Palative Dining Car Service on selected dates, for Saturday evening meals and Sunday lunches. There are also many other special events throughout the year. For details contact them on 01629 580381, or contact the Matlock Tourist Information Centre.

Photos and information provided by Edward Rokita - see Derbyshire UK at

    Peak District Mill and Crafts – Caudwell’s Mill – Rowsley   Caudwell’s Mill at Rowsley is a unique, Grade II* listed historic flour mill, set in the beautiful Wye Valley in the glorious Peak District National Park, with Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall and the Peak Rail Station nearby. It is situated on the A6 between Bakewell and Matlock in the village of Rowsley. The mill is powered by water from the River Wye and a mill...
Peak District Mill and Crafts - Caudwells Mill - Rowsley
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