Much has been written on the history of the village of Matlock Bath and links are given to much of this material at the end of this brief introduction.
The development of Matlock Bath really began in 1698 with the discovery of the possible attraction of thermal water at a constant 68 degrees. The first ‘bath’ was built by local entrepreneurs to attract people to the village. Development was slow as access to the valley was difficult. It was improved by the building of a bridge over the Derwent in Matlock and then in 1783 of the opening of the southern end of the valley near Cromford.
Because of the Napoleonic wars in Europe, the rich travelled in the UK and Matlock Bath became fashionable so much so that Princess Victoria visited in 1831. Lord Byron likened the valley to ‘ an Alpine Switzerland’ hence the nickname Little Switzerland. However with the arrival of the Midland Railway and the travelling classes came the biggest change to the village. A promenade was built from the station running along side the river and since then Matlock Bath has been likened to a seaside resort without any sea. Hotels sprang up offering a variety of spa treatments to the visitors and in the late Victorian period, the spa village started to attract many day trippers.
Did you know that the Grand Pavilion is over 100 years old? – it opened its doors to the public for the first time in July 1910!
The Derwent Gardens and Lovers walk was developed with the visitors in mind and for the Queen’s Jubilee in 1887, a bridge was built across the river. However until the middle of the last century, the ferry still operated in the Gardens.
Matlock Bath has always attracted tourism because of its natural beauty. The Parish Council, while encouraging tourism, will always lobby to ensure that the natural beauty of the area is not compromised.