Matlock Bath

Last week, we looked at Matlock Bath in our sessions at Cavendish and Newholme hospital. Matlock Bath is a unique place. Matlock Bath (and nearby Matlock) were spa towns, with thermal springs coming out of the hillside, but the dramatic limestone cliffs and caves drew visitors in their droves, and a bustling Victorian resort was born. In the twentieth century, the village of Matlock Bath became very popular with day-trippers from land-locked midlands towns, giving it a “sea-side” appearance with amusement arcades, fish and chip shops, candyfloss and even sticks of rock! On Sundays, motorcyclists flock to Matlock Bath in their hundreds.

Matlock Bath

Like a seaside town inland,
Illuminations, and trinket shops
Cable cars strung across the steep ravine
High above the day-trippers.

Motorbikes flock on Sundays
I remember when Masson Mill
Clacked and cranked out cotton.
We shared gossip on the looms,

“Me mar” mime above the noise
Coughing on the cotton dust.
In the bad old days, kids crawled
Scavenging under the machines.

Victorians sipped thermal water
Toured caves in top hats and crinolines
Travelled by steam trains through tunnels
Sketched, and etched their names on stone.

Now we play at Gulliver’s Kingdom
Gamble on the penny falls at Halls’
Explore the Heights of Abraham
Brave pleasure seekers climb or canoe.

Riber Castle had a golden eagle
And its own ghost. A petting zoo.
A decent cuppa and an ice cream
Are better than looking at old relics.

The 1960s brought long-haired “troggs”
Living in the maze of old mines.
Eccentrics; bohemians are drawn here
Bringing exotic music and colourful clothes.

We used to dance in the sprung-floor
Of the Pavilion, watch the carp swim.
The old hall lay empty, neglected for years
Now it’s scruffy but full of love and life again.


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