Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Matlock Bath

Matlock Bath is a village south of Matlock in Derbyshire, England. Built along the River Derwent, it developed, in the 1800s, as a spa town and still thrives on tourism. It is often said that Matlock Bath is like a seaside town without the sea due to the number of fish and chip shops and amusement arcades. (Picture shows Matlock Bath, as seen from the Heights of Abraham cable car).

In 1698, warm springs were discovered and a Bath House was built. As the waters became more famous, access was improved by the building of the bridge into Old Matlock and in 1783, the opening of a new entrance at the south of the valley. Princess Victoria's royal visit in 1831 confirmed Matlock as a society venue of the time. Ruskin loved it, and Lord Byron confirmed its romantic character, comparing it with alpine Switzerland, hence its nickname Little Switzerland. Erasmus Darwin had recommended the area to Josiah Wedgwood for its beauty and soothing waters, and members of the families vacationed and settled there. Edward Levett Darwin, son of Francis Sacheverel Darwin, lived at Dale House in Matlock Bath, where he was a solicitor.
When the North Midland Railway opened in 1840, carriages plied for hire from Ambergate
station. The Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway ran a number of excursions, taking the passengers onward from Ambergate by the Cromford Canal. Matlock Bath is now a designated conservation area with an Article 4 Direction in relation to properties, predominantly along North and South Parade.
Visitor attractions
Attractions in the village include the Heights of Abraham which is a self contained park on top of a hill of the same name. The park contains a former mine which is open to the public and a cliffside cafe. On the opposite bank of the river Derwent, stands High Tor, a sheer cliff which is very popular with climbers and walkers alike. High Tor features Giddy Edge, a narrow winding path along the cliff edge. The cable cars are close to the base of High Tor and serve the Heights of Abraham. Also in Matlock Bath are Gulliver's Kingdom theme park, the Peak District Mining Museum, the Life in a Lens Museum of Photography and Old Times, a petrifying well and an aquarium. The notable presence of amusements and museums are a strong tourist draw, and they live quite happily side by side, because the conservation area guidelines keep control of any excessive promotional activity, while allowing it to prosper along with the historical and scenic side that has made Matlock Bath so worth visiting. Matlock Bath is often referred to as 'a seaside town without the sea' due to the high number of chip shops, pubs and tacky amusement arcades. In autumn of each year, the "Venetian Nights" are held with illuminations along the river and illuminated boats, attracting thousands of visitors
Fancy Rafts
There is a fancy rafts event every year on boxing day on the river Derwent from Matlock through Matlock Bath to Cromford Meadows.
Matlock Bath is well-known as a meeting place for motorcyclists and moped riders who flock to the village at weekends and bank holidays.
StreetSafari gathering
Every March, participants in StreetSafari European banger rallies meet in the Midland Hotel, North Parade, Matlock Bath for their annual "north of England" meet-up. The "south of England" meet-up is held in Covent Garden, London. The last Matlock Bath gathering was held on Saturday 15 March 2008. The forthcoming Matlock Bath gathering presumably was held at the Midland Hotel on Saturday 28 March 2009.
Matlock Bath railway station was built in 1849 on the Midland Railway line between London and Manchester: the section from Matlock to Buxton was closed in 1968, during the Beeching Axe. Trains still run between Matlock Bath and Derby on the Derwent Valley Line.