Tuesday 19 July 2011

Matlock Meanderings [1]

Memories, Memories.
 Optio Orange (read again)
was formally launched in Sheffield yesterday.
The launch was somewhat "low key"!
Does this bode well for the future?
Maltock brings fine memories to the old and chubby one. His first visit was as a somewhat less rotund teenager, still at school, enjoying an East Midlands week-long rover ticket on good old British Railways. A similar offer still applies but with changes to the boundaries.

On a very wet day, the lad arrived at Matlock Bath ...
... in company with a school chum, now promoted to "official Northampton correspondent" for fbb's blog factory. The station was opened by the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway in 1849 and built in a "Swiss Chalet" style to match the romaticised view that Matlock Bath was a "little Switzerland". On the advice of parents, the pair hied to the Heights of Abraham.

Having paid their admission (1 shilling, that's 5 pence), they soldiered soggily up the path in the harsh realisation that they were the only customers. Nevertheless they were treated to a tour of the caverns ...
... somewhat less spectacular then, than this modern multicoloured magnificence.

fbb's next encounter with Matlock was far more significant. It was at a Christian leadership training weekend held here:-
It pre-WW2 it was once a Spa and later become a school for young ladies. In a sadly "distressed" state it was the home of the Woodlands Project, an evangelical Christian outreach to Matlock and its environs. Now it has been partly replaced by the inevitable block of flats but some "remnants" still stand.
On April 30th 1971 fbb arrived (late!) for the poorly attended weekend. At 2200, the small number of "trainees" was sitting glumly in a circle, in deathly silence, as if awaiting execution. Amongst the equally distressed clientele was a delightfully vivacious Scottish "girril", who laughed at fbb's jokes. (She confessed later that this was out of desperation rather than genuine enjoyment; it was not a particularly "good" weekend.) That young lady became Mrs fbb.

Family visits later took fbb, Mrs fbb and assorted sons to the just opened Gullivers Kingdom; hardly a theme park then.
fbb went for a ride by newly installed cable car from Station to Heights of Abraham, while Mrs and "the boys" decided to await his safe (?) return!
[Note : this pic is of the most recent set of cable cars. fbb rode on the first lot.] Since fbb's first teenage visit much of the property between the A6 and the riverbank (here on the right) ...
 ... has been demolished to widen the road, then a notorious bottleneck in the summer.
The former Midland Railway no longer thunders through Matlock and Monsal Dale on its way to Manchester, having closed in 1968 ...
... although at least one of the formerly blocked-up tunnels has been opened this year on the excellent substitute footpath. 
But from July trains will again run into Matlock from the North. These being operated by Peak Rail.
The link into Matlock Station itself replaces a temporary platform, named Matlock Riverside, half a mile or so further north..
From an omnibologists point of view, a highlight of a visit used to be the chance of seeing some of the splendid vehicles of Silver Service (J H Woolliscroft) of Darley Dale.
The company subsequently bought Hulleys of Baslow, but long after its own vehicles lost their gorgeous eponymous livery in favour of a rather boring blue and cream.

Enough of memories: part 2 (a "guest blog") looks at bus facilities in Matlock today. Appearing soon on a computer near you.

Meanwhile fbb marvels at the consequences of that awful training weekend ... 

Next blog : due Wednesday July 20th

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed this blog - few years since we went here - about 1991 I think.