Matlock Bath is a village and civil parish situated south of Matlock on the main A6 road in Derbyshire, England, approximately halfway between Buxton and Derby. The population of the civil parish as of the 2011 census was 753. Originally built at the head of a dead-end dirt road running alongside the valley of the River Derwent from Matlock itself, the locality developed in the 19th century as residential and a spa town and still thrives on tourism. Development was and is very restricted due to the steep hillsides, with the majority of buildings on one side of the valley with only footbridges across the river. The road was upgraded and made into a through-way, now designated A6, avoiding the previous old coaching road approach to Matlock from Cromford over very steep hills near to the Riber plateau area.
Matlock Bath, viewed from the Heights of Abraham
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In 1698 warm springs were discovered and a bath house was built. As the waters became better known, 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 of Kent's royal visit in 1832 confirmed Matlock as a society venue of the time. Victoria's party visited a pair of museums and a petrifying well. John Ruskin and Lord Byron were visitors, Byron comparing it with alpine Switzerland, leading to a nickname of Little Switzerland. Erasmus Darwin had recommended the area to Josiah Wedgwood I 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.
Matlock Bath is in the local government district of Derbyshire Dales, and is part of the parliamentary constituency of the same name. The Member of Parliament is Patrick McLoughlin of the Conservative Party.
Matlock Bath is known as a tourist destination, with attractions including the Heights of Abraham park, Gulliver's Kingdom theme park, the Peak District Mining Museum, the Life in a Lens Museum of Photography & Old Times, the Grand Pavilion and an aquarium.
On the opposite bank of the river Derwent stands High Tor, a sheer cliff popular with climbers and walkers. High Tor features Giddy Edge, a narrow winding path along the cliff edge. The Heights of Abraham cable cars link the base of High Tor rising to the Heights of Abraham.
In autumn of each year, the "Venetian Nights" are held with illuminations along the river and illuminated boats.
On Sundays in summer many hundreds of motorcyclists congregate in the town.
Popular culture referencesEdit
Andrew Asibong's phantasmagorical novel Mameluke Bath is set in a futuristic version of Matlock Bath, and Eleanor Bowen-Jones' film Return to Mameluke Bath explores both real and fictional versions of the town.
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, following the Beeching cuts. Trains still run between Matlock Bath and Derby on the Derwent Valley Line.
The River Derwent in Matlock Bath is a location for canoeing, both recreational and competitive. Matlock Canoe Club host national-level wild-water racing and slalom events here, and it is an assessment location for the BCU 4 Star award.
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- About Derbyshire – Riber and Starkholmes Retrieved 2014-06-29
- RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) 23 October 1832 (Queen Victoria's handwriting). Retrieved 2013-05-24
- Peak District Information Retrieved 2014-07-07
- Heights of Abraham Retrieved 2014-07-07
- Mameluke Bath, Open Books, 2013 Retrieved 2015-02-10
- Return to Mameluke Bath Retrieved 2015-02-10
- Matlock Bath Parish Council homepage Retrieved 2015-03-03
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