Updated: Aug 6, 2022
Tired of turkey? Bored of Brussels? Taste buds in a torpor? Are you finding those mince pies now rather mundane? Time, perhaps, to travel to somewhere other than Istanbul or Belgium and treat your paralysed palate. Time, perhaps, to nip out for a curry. That'll get your gustatory cells going.
One of my nearest sites offering cuisine of a South Asian origin is the balti house in Matlock Bath. Starting up many years ago now, the award-winning restaurant has recently moved a short distance along the road into the premises that formerly housed the County & Station Hotel.
The hotel first sprung up on North Parade in the 1860s. Well, it wasn't there at the time of the 1861 census and, although the pub isn't actually named, Sidney Wheatcroft is given as an innkeeper at its location a decade later.
When it comes to names, it seems that it started off simply as the Station Hotel, appropriately enough, as it was across the road from the entrance to Matlock Bath's station. The censuses of 1881, with Sidney still there, and in 1891 when it's occupied by a William Edwards, both refer to it as that. The earliest appearance of it as the County & Station that I've found is an entry in Kelly's 1895 directory which says:
County & Station Family Hotel (Arthur William Upton, proprietor), opposite Railway station & 'bus terminus; the hotel offers every accommodation for visitors, & is situated in the centre of the well-known preserve of the Matlock & Cromford Angling Association; tickets may be obtained at the hotel.
Arthur doesn't stay in residence very long for by 1901 he's living with his mother in Melbourne, presumably helping her run the Melbourne Hotel (still trading today as Harper's) after the death of his father in 1895. His place at the County & Station is taken by Francis Hoyland. Whether this was immediate or not I'm not certain, but Kelly's shows him as being there by 1899 with this entry:
County & Station Hotel (Francis Hoyland, proprietor), opposite Railway station; parties catered for; good stabling.
He's there with his family for the next two censuses, as well as when Kelly visited the town again in 1916. The Hoylands had previously been at the, now demolished, Rutland Arms (coming to a blog post near you soon!) and in the early 1920s they took on the private hotel that was Woodland House on Derby Road, which has also since succumbed to the wrecking ball.
Replacing them at the County & Station came the Barkers, John and Lucy. They'd been at the Nag's Head in Heanor in 1901 (It became the Memory Lane, closed and then was demolished in 2017.) before doing a bit of globe-trotting – New York, Pennsylvania, Grenoble... I don't know why, but they returned to Blighty and took up residence in the County & Station. Neither were there very long. John died on the 26th April 1922, which would probably account for why it's Lucy that's advertising in Kelly's directory published the same year same year and that it's her name on the pub's characteristic oval sign in this photograph.
By the time that Kelly publish their 1925 edition Lucy has moved on and a Tom Motley Stokes is the proprietor. In more recent times the pub was a Marston's house. Pedro Menon – of Derby's Furnace Inn and Shiny Brewery fame – took on the lease at the end of 2014 but the occupancy was short-lived. The owners put the property up for sale and the hostelry's days were over. Empty in 2016, it was starting to look quite sad when Martin Froggatt took this pic two years ago.
Two years on and it's serving beer again, as long as it accompanies a curry. No sit-down dining here though. We're in Tier 3, remember. Take away or delivery only. However, these days you can't just roll up in your charabanc with the rest of your rugby team and park outside whilst the chefs prepare your takeaway order of two Lamb Kiganis, three Kingiri Delights, five Beef Bhunas, four Chicken Jalfrezis and one Prawn Vindaloo – and can you make that extra hot? (There's always one, isn't there?) The double yellow lines have seen to that.
All this talk of curries has made me hungry. Can't face another day of turkey and sprouts. Where's the 'phone? “Hello. Can I order to collect in half an hour, please? Great! Two plain naans, one pilau rice, a Chicken Kigani and a King Prawn Vindaloo. And can you make that extra hot?"
As is often the case when dealing with a bygone boozer in the Matlock area, Ann Andrews has some interesting details or her site. This page relates to pre-1900 times and the period 1900-1939 is covered here.
Martin Froggatt's image is copyright and reused under this license.
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