Derwent Gardens is a formal park located on the southern side of the Pavilion in Matlock Bath, overlooking the River Derwent. It is also the location of Derbyshire Dales District Council's popular Illuminations festival.
The distinctive emphasis of the gardens is water. Several thermal springs emerge in the park creating the water gardens. Grottos and alcoves also provide unique features within the beautiful gardens.
Found across a river bridge opened in 1969, the Lovers' Walks are a series of footpaths along the riverside and up and over the spectacular cliffs.
The origin of Derwent Gardens
Derwent Gardens is the result of the union of two distinct areas, the Ferry Grounds and the Orchard Holme.
Orchard Holme is the original name for the southern section of Derwent Gardens. There are several thermal springs have their outfall to the river here. Cleared of trees in the mid nineteenth century the site was once a rubbish tip for the Royal Hotel. Yet Herbert Buxton, a local businessman, bought the site in 1880 and erected a gravity powered roller coaster. This opened amid great excitement in 1889.
Buxton also offered more traditional amusements including landscaped gardens, thermal fishponds, a petrifying well and a café. The roller coaster survived until 1934 when the grounds fell into disrepair.
Requisitioned by the army during World War II, after the war some of the former army buildings housed a variety of attractions including an aquarium and aviary. The gardens purchased by Matlock Urban District Council in 1951 were an amusement area until 1967.
The original Promenade location for the Illuminations got lost during the A6 road widening in 1968. This is when Derwent Gardens became the new home. The Illuminations Committee went into liquidation in 1984. This is when Derbyshire Dales District Council took over the responsibility for the gardens and illuminations.
The Ferry Grounds forming the top end of what is now known as Derwent Gardens contained landing stages . These had been in existence since the eighteenth century. This formed an important element of the local leisure industry housing the ferry. They were also used for both boating and national swimming competitions.
The area between the landing stage and the main road remained rough ground and housed the entrance to the Providence Lead Mine. Many fairs and travelling shows set up on this area. In 1897 the Matlock Bath and Scarthin Nick Urban District Council leased the Ferry grounds to get access to the Lovers' Walks. The Council purchased this land in 1908 under the auspices of the 1905 Improvement Act. Built in 1911 the Kursaal is now known as the Pavilion.
Visiting Matlock Bath?
Enjoy the District Council's Green Flag Hall Leys, Matlock and the fabulous Arc Leisure Matlock. The District Council also manages the picturesque grounds at High Tor above Matlock Dale and Lovers' Walks across the river from Derwent Gardens in Matlock Bath.