Review of ‘Images of England: Matlock and Matlock Bath’, by Julie Bunting

This review is by Tom Bates, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 11th March 2002, and is reproduced with Tom's kind permission.

Images of England
by Julie Bunting
ISBN 0-7524-2455-6 (2002)

With the advent of computers and digital technology throughout the entire printing industry, the publication of books displaying old black and white photographs has become a much cheaper and far simpler process. It is hardly surprising therefore that many such books - specifically targeted to each locale - have flooded the market recently. I have collected a dozen from Derbyshire alone over the past five years, and the format is usually the same. A sepia tinted cover depicting a local scene from a bygone age, and the title, usually consisting of the name of the town, county or village, followed by the words, "in old photographs". Most simply have pages of photographs accompanied by a one line caption. This book is different and is more than just a collection of old photographs, for it also provides the reader with a pictorial history lesson and is expertly written by someone who knows - and loves, her subject!

Front Cover

"Matlock & Matlock Bath" is published by Tempus, the latest paperback from their Archive Photographs Series, - "Images of England, Scotland and Wales" and has been compiled by writer and local historian, Julie Bunting. The book epitomises the absolute veracity of the old adage, "never judge a book by its cover" - for you will not find a one line caption anywhere within its pages, and its sum total adds up to far more than its cover suggests.

What makes it refreshingly different is the excellently written and informative text which provides a wealth of local colour and historical detail, a more than worthy accompaniment to some rare and fascinating photographs. The collection of images also includes etchings, engravings, early bill posters and other artefacts from the past, many dating back over a hundred years. The reader is given a glimpse of developments that have taken place in transport and industry; the shops and streets that have changed over the years and the experiences of external events such as two world wars which have helped shape and change the nature of the town. The book highlights the therapeutic value of the area's natural spring waters and chronicles the rise and fall of the hydropathic establishments, providing a comprehensive pictorial history of Matlock's development as a spa town.

The book is elegantly presented and well set out, being divided into two sections, with nine chapters on Matlock and three on Matlock Bath. This book will find a welcome niche in the market and will be a valuable resource for both locals and tourists for many years to come.

440 words T.B.

Review by Tom Bates

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