Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Once upon a time, it seems a long, long time ago now, at around 6.30pm on 7th March 2020, in TW2, New Zealander Ben O'Keefe raised a whistle to his lips and blew. A thirteen-man England side had managed to hold on to beat Wales 33-30 and secure their 26th Triple Crown and I could now reinstate my Honorary Welshman Status which had been suspended for the previous couple of hours. This is probably not the sort of Triple Crown story which you might've been expecting. However, Matlock has its own Triple Crown tale to tell. It has over time had three Crowns, all of which it now seems are history.
The first of these was the Crown Inn. Sitting a short way up Dob Lane, now Bank Road, it appears in Pigot's 1828-9 directory in the hands of James Bown. Glover's similar version informs us that he was also a watchmaker. By the time that Pigot returns to the town in 1831 he's still there but has gained an 'e' and is James Bowen.
After a few changes of hands we end up with a George Peglar at the helm in1876 according to that year's edition of Kelly directory. At some point between the 1881 and 1891 censuses George must've decided that his operation needed a promotion in status as it's changed from being an inn to a hotel by the time of the latter. It was probably also deemed to be too small, for at the end of the 1890s it was demolished and a new Crown Hotel built. Both George and his wife Jane died within six months of each other in 1898 so I think it's likely that they were the last proprietors of the old establishment and when the new hotel opened it did so with a new team in charge.
The new Crown Hotel stood at the lower end of the cable tramway which ran up (fare 2d), and down (fare 1d), Bank Road between 1893 and 1927. The steepest street tramway in the world, apparently. (Ann Andrews has a nice article on the tramway, including a number of images of the Crown, here.) A tram shelter was erected in Crown Square in 1899 and was removed to the nearby park when the tramway ceased operation. This postcard showing the shelter and the Crown Hotel is in the Raphael Tuck database and was listed in their 1930 catalogue despite the fact that tramway services had ended three years earlier.
The new Crown Hotel continued to operate, as a Home Brewery house for much of its life, until 1990 when it closed and its ground floor was subdivided into retail units.
When I first moved to the area the corner unit was occupied by a branch of the Britannia Building Society which became branded as one of the Cooperative Bank, with which it merged in 2009. It is currently occupied by a greetings cards shop.
Although the pub has gone the stonework bears a couple of reminders of its former life:-
At the end of July 1998 the third Crown appeared in Matlock. A few yards further north along the road to Bakewell, Wetherspoons opened a new pub and named in it memory of its earlier namesake. Close to the bus station, it is was popular with a 'certain daytime clientele' and was a useful addition to the town's amenities. I mean, how else can you occupy an hour and a half when, with this country's wonderfully integrated transport system, you find your train is scheduled to arrive at Matlock station two minutes after the bus you need to catch is timetabled to depart?
Housed in a building constructed in 1899, originally occupied by William Furniss - cab and coach proprietor, the arch which permitted ingress and egress of his cabs and coaches provided the means of ingress and egress for imbibers.
Just a few months after reaching its 21st birthday the third incarnation of the Crown served its last pint. It now looks like this.
Why did this happen? Did its 'certain daytime clientele' find somewhere cheaper to purchase their lagers? Highly unlikely. About forty-five seconds into this video might give you a clue:-
The result of the Derwent dumping its load into the town centre's premises was significant enough to draw a bewildered Boris to the scene for a photo-opportunity or two featuring him ineffectually moving a mop around, with the result of simply shifting silt and sewage from A to B. Although at the time of writing (December 2020) Wetherspoon's website shows it as a temporary closure I've been informed that staff were told in August that the Crown will not reopen.
No matter who blows the whistle in Dublin at around 8.00pm on March 20th 2021 to bring to an end the next chapter in England's Triple Crown story, it seems that Matlock's one has already ended. There is a rumour that 'Spoons may be going to convert another building in the town, but we'll just have to see about that.
Ann Andrews' transcriptions of directories have saved me a lot of effort.
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