You've Missed the Boat.

Winter approaches and the tyres on the car were looking like they wouldn't last the season out so I thought I'd treat it to some new rubber before the first snow arrives. The tyre fitters had a few vehicles ahead of me in the queue so I went for a wander around, and then for another, longer, wander around – Matlock's not very big – and in doing so reached the Boat House on the edge of town.


In the early years of the millennium, before the onset of oral allergy syndrome prevented the ingestion of onion, carrot, peppers, celery, apples, cherries – everything it seems from aardvarks to zebras (A diet consisting of zucchini, zucotto and züpfe, even when washed down with a zinfandel, has to get a little tedious after a while.) – Mrs. Bygone Boozer and I would celebrate the arrival of the weekend by nipping down to Matlock on a Friday evening for a curry, preceded by a drink in the Boat House. The aforementioned condition now contraindicates curry consumption and the closure of the Boat House precludes the preprandial pint.



The Boat House - sometimes referred to as an inn, sometimes a hotel, sometimes neither – stood beside the A6 at the southern edge of Matlock. Head out of town towards Matlock Bath and as soon as you'd passed under the railway bridge there was the Boat House on the right. It was there well before there was any need for the bridge to exist. The parliamentary act which approved the building of the railway line was passed in 1846 and Matlock (then known as Matlock Bridge) Station opened in 1849, whilst I find the Boat House featuring in Glover's directory of 1827-29 listing James Fletcher as a victualler with a sideline of butchery.

The Boat House goes back even further than that. It was named by John Farey in the first volume of his A General View of the Agriculture and Minerals of Derbyshire published in 1811 where he mentions the 'marble' quarry behind the inn.

Farey, John. A General View of the Agriculture and Minerals of Derbyshire. Vol 1. 1811

What was being hewn from behind the inn wasn't actually marble but grey entrochi, or in modern terminology, crinoidal limestone. It might not actually be marble but it does look very attractive when cut and polished. In its raw state it hides its beauty, looking like this.


The quarry closed at the tail end of the nineteenth century and has seen no action since, although I did on one occasion when passing spot a couple of blokes equipped with ropes and harnesses standing at the foot of the cut face. I haven't heard of there being any climbs on it and if there were they wouldn't have appealed to me. I had little interest in quarried limestone much preferring a nice bit of Welsh rhyolite any day of the week, or even a bit of Derbyshire grit.


Before the railway's arrival that of any guest would've been by coach and the Boat House used to have a coach house which stood to the south of the property. That was flattened many years ago to make room for the car park.


On the pub's car park once stood its coach house.

Ann Andrews has a picture of it on her site. In fact she has a number of pictures together with an awful lot of info on the Boat House dating back to 1780 on her site. So, in order to save myself time (I'm absolutely certain that her references will hold up), and to give her the credit for all her research, here are some links:


Boat House Hotel - Stables & Scout Rooms – includes the aforementioned picture of the coach house and the pub with Hardy's brewery livery painted along its side.


Dale Road, Boat House Hotel & River, early 1900s – includes some descriptions of the Boat House from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Dale Road, Boat House Hotel & River- about 1908 – includes a shot of the hotel advertising Hardy's Ale & Stout along with a list of licensees from 1857-1950s and some mid-20th century adverts.


Having wandered this far to use up a bit of time there was absolutely no chance of popping inside to while away a little more, even if its opening hadn't been prevented by Lockdown 2.0, for it closed early in 2015, reopening later that year as a veterinary practice. It seems that pubs like the Boat House and my old second home in Gorleston, the Highlands, are well suited to this conversion as their domestic accommodation can be used by staff caring for any seriously ill patients overnight.


Before closure, the pub's sign featured a view of the building seen from the River Derwent...


...a view captured on camera by the photographer known as pszz.



With no chance of a beer it was time to wander back and collect the car, newly-shod with four Michelin Cross Climates for the price of three. Fancy that bargain? Sorry, that offer's over. You've missed the boat on that one. I just miss the Boat. Oh! And the post-pint Prawn Pathia.


The images of the limestone, sign and the open Boat House are reused under this license.

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