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The Crown

Read about John Smedley – the man who made Matlock.

Crown Square, Derwent House, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3AT

This pub takes its name from the malt whisky which made Wishaw famous. Around this time, cotton-weaving was established in Wishaw. Domestic hand loom weaving and finishing became the main livelihood for many families and remained so well into the 19th century.

Photographs and text about the history of The Crown.

The text reads: The arrival of the hydros in Matlock generated a lot of business for licensed transport. One of the busiest and best-known cab proprietors was William Henry Furniss, whose headquarters were on the site of this J D Wetherspoon pub. As well as operating horse-drawn cabs and buses, Furniss also drove a horse-drawn fire engine.
Horses were stabled at the rear, and Furniss ran his business with some style. He used teams of either piebalds or shewbalds, and was well known for his sartorial elegance. His normal attire included a bright red waistcoat, and a black or white top hat.

Top: left, Crown Square, right, Charabancs setting off from Bakewell Road.
Right: William Henry Furniss, outside this site.

Prints and text about Florence Nightingale.

The text reads: One of Britain’s most famous women, Florence Nightingale, once lived near Matlock. Her house, Lea Hurst, was in the village of Holloway.

Florence owed her name to her Italian birthplace. Born in 1820, she later trained as a nurse at Kaiserswerth and Paris.

In 1853, she became superintendent of a hospital for invalid women in London. She is perhaps best known for her pioneering work during the Crimean War. Florence volunteered for duty in 1854, taking a battery of 38 nurses with her.

She set about reorganising the barracks hospital after the Battle of Inkerman. Thanks to her efforts and her strict insistence on discipline and proper sanitation, the mortality rate was drastically reduced.

On her return to England, Florence founded an institution to train nurses at St. Thomas’s and King’s College Hospitals. She then devoted the rest of her life to raising standards in nursing and improving public health in India. She died in 1910, aged 90.

Top: left, Miss Nightingale with Sir Harry Verney, right, satirical view of Florence Nightingale.

Illustrations and text about Matlock Bath.

The text reads: Nearby Matlock Bath, as its name implies, benefited from the hydrotherapy boom. Medicinal springs were first discovered there in the 17th century, and a small bath opened in 1690s. In the 1720s, the celebrated writer Daniel Defoe declared “the water is but just milk warm, so that it is less pleasant to go into than sanative”.

By 1838, the town had become a flourishing spa with many famous visitors, including the poet Lord Byron and the writer and art critic John Ruskin. Royal patrons included Princess (later Queen) Victoria, the Grand Duke of Russia and Queen Adelaide, widow of King William IV.

Above: Daniel Defoe.

Photographs and text about Just William.

The text reads: Schoolboy scoundrel Just William – much loved by generations of children – was the popular fictional creation of Richmal Crompton. Born in Bury in 1890, Richmal taught for many years at St. Elphin’s School, Darely Dale, near Matlock.

The best-selling author is believed to have acquired her unusual name from a family tradition to merge the names Richard and Mary, then often known as Mal or Mally. A highly imaginative and sensitive child, Richmal was fascinated by the classics.

After graduating from the University of London in her favourite subject, she became a teacher and launched her highly successful writing career. Although she is best remembered for creating William Brown, she also wrote 50 books for adults. Her first ‘William’ story, Just William, was published in May 1922, and was followed by around 40 others before her death in 1969.

Mystery still masks the true identity of the original William. Some say he was based on Richmal’s brother Jack, while other plump for her nephew Thomas, or great nephew Edward. Yet no-one can dispute William’s long reign as the ultimate ‘naughty boy’.

Left: top, Richmal in the mid 1940s, below, Richmal (right) with brother Jack and sister Gwen.

Prints and text about the Bank Road Tramway.


The text reads: The visitors who flocked to Matlock to test the water cures at the numerous hydros could also ride on the steepest tramway in the world. Running from Crown Square up Bank Road to the top of Rutland Street, it climbed 300 feet in just half a mile.

The tramway – which linked the hydros with the town centre – was the brainchild of Matlock Bath-born publisher George Newnes. He found a staunch ally in hydro owner Job Smith, later the district’s first County Councillor. The line opened in 1893, when passengers paid ‘tuppence up the bank’ and 1(old) penny down.

Top left: Job Smith
Above: George Newnes.

Prints, illustrations and text about John Smedley – the man who made Matlock.


The text reads: Born in nearby Wirksworth in 1803, John Smedley is often described as ‘the man who made Matlock’. This businessman and philanthropist effectively transformed it from a drowsy hamlet into a thriving tourist town.

Smedley joined his father’s hosiery business at the age of 14. He rescued the firm from near bankruptcy and eventually employed 1,000 workers. A generous man, he provided a free hospital for his workers and catered for their spiritual and educational welfare.

Smedley’s fascination for hydropathy – or water cures – stemmed from personal experience. Water treatments had worked wonders for him after he had a bout of fever in 1847.

He bought a property on Matlock Bank in 1853, and set about designing and building what later became known as Smedley’s Hydro. No less than thirty such establishments later sprang up in the town.

Now the Headquarters of Derbyshire County Council, Smedley’s Hydro expanded after Smedley’s death in 1874. A billiards room and Winter Gardens were added, boasting a floor resting on railway carriage springs.

During the First World Was it became a hospital. In the Second World War it was a military intelligence school, attended by such famous names as writer Evelyn Waugh and actor Dirk Bogarde. The hydro closed in 1955.

Above: Scenes from the water cure.

An illustration and text about Richard Arkwright - the father of the factory system.


The text reads: In nearby Cromford is a historic mill that has been described as the ‘Cradle of the Industrial Revolution’. Sir Richard Arkwright opened Cromford Mill – the world’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill – in 1771.

Born in Preston, Lancashire, Arkwright is widely recognised as the father of the factory system that revolutionised production methods and made Britain the world’s premier manufacturing power in the 19th century. Arkwright’s water frame succeeded James Hargreaves’ Spinning Jenny, enabling large amounts of cotton to be spun more quickly, and in the process making Arkwright a fortune.

Left: top, the factory system begun locally by Richard Arkwright, below, Market Place, Cromford.

Prints and text about Joseph Whitworth.


The text reads: Many of the amenities still enjoyed by people in nearby Darley Dale today were the gift of the engineer and inventor Sir Joseph Whitworth. Born in Stockport, Cheshire, in 1803, Whitworth played a key role in developing machine tools. He also promoted absolute accuracy in measurement and was instrumental in standardising machine parts.

Many of Whitworth’s tools and machines went on display at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Eight years later, he invented a gun made of compressed steel, with a spiral polygonal bore. He also invented the standard screw thread that bears his name.

Immensely wealthy, he bought Stancliffe Hall and its estate in 1856, and went to live there in 1871. A major local benefactor, Whitworth Institute, built in 1890, and the Whitworth Hospital, founded in 1889, and still used as a cottage hospital today.

Whitworth scholarships were founded to encourage further progress in engineering science. He also gave his name to nearby Whitworth Park, where he is remembered by an obelisk unveiled in 1894. After a long life, Whitworth died in 1887, at the age of 84.

Top: left, Whitworth Institute and monument, right, Stancliffe Hall, Sir Joseph’s home

External photograph of the building – main entrance.


If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: pubhistories@jdwetherspoon.co.uk