Matlock Bath’s warm springs were discovered in 1698. The waters were applied for medicinal purposes at first, and the first bath house was built in the same year – to attract visitors.
However, access to the village was difficult and it wasn’t until a bridge was built (over the Derwent in Matlock), and the opening of the southern side of the valley in 1783, that visitor traffic improved.
Matlock Bath became a popular resort in the nineteenth century. The Napoleonic Wars encouraged more homebound tourism, and this Derbyshire town was one of the beneficiaries for wealthy visitors. Princess Victoria of Kent’s royal visit in 1832 confirmed Matlock Bath’s status; and other famous visitors include John Ruskin and Lord Byron – with the latter comparing it to alpine Switzerland.
It remains a popular tourist destination to this day, due to its breathtaking natural beauty. Each autumn, the Matlock Bath Illuminations see the riverside decorated, and the cliffs floodlit with colour. Weekends see dedicated parades, in a modern celebration of the town’s heritage.
Read more about spa towns in our feature here.