We were staying in Matlock Green, a short walk from the centre of Matlock, and from outside our hotel we could see the Parish Church on a hill in Old Matlock, as well as Riber Castle, known locally as ‘Smedley’s Folly’ on a hill top overlooking the area where it was virtually impossible to get a decent water supply. The mock-gothic castle was constructed between 1862 and 1866 as a private home for John Smedley, an industrialist who as well as running Lea Mills also built the large Smedley’s Hydro in the centre of Matlock, turning the town into a spa resort attracting visitors from around the world.

The Hydro was used as a military intelligence school in WW2 and is now the headquarters of Derbyshire County Council. Lea Mills, a few miles to the south, was founded by his father (also John Smedley) and Peter Nightingale in 1784 is the world’s oldest manufacturing factory in continuous operation, though it now makes expensive designer knitwear rather than ‘Long Johns’ and other more workaday clothing.

After visiting Lumsdale I walked up to the church, then down a steep path and into the centre of Matlock. It seems a pleasant place in winter, though probably rather crowded with tourists during the summer months, and I was pleased to find both a Gregg’s and a Wetherspoons close together as after my walk I was both a little hungry and thirsty.

I spent some time wandering around the town before the others returned from their trip to the panto, enjoyong the fading light and then phtographing some of the shops; there do seem to be rather a lot of antiques/junk shops and others with interesting window displays. Later after we met up, we had a meal in a Thai restaurant before a leisurely stroll in a rather circuitous stroll back to our hotel.

More from Matlock in Matlock & Lumsdale both before and after the Lumsdale pictures.


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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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