Before the record office closed due to the Covid-19 virus, Melanie, one of our Archives Assistants, discovered the tale of an interesting Derbyshire character….
With delight, I came across an account of Owd Sammy Twitcher’s visit to Matlock – or visit ‘tu’t Watter Cure Establishment at Matlock-Bonk’, held at the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock.
For those of you new to this beloved character, Owd Sammy is fictional character featured in a series of booklets written by Joseph Barlow Robinson in the late 1800s.
At the time, there was rise in popularity of affordable weekly almanacs and books for adults and children alike in Derby and across the county; many – such as this – were published by Bemrose, a respected and prolific publisher in Derby.
Owd Sammy is highly entertaining and comical; uniquely his various escapades in and across Derby. Accurate details are provided about Derby and the county at that time.
As with all Owd Sammy accounts, the book is ‘roat, kompoazed, an hillustarted by a Darbysher Mon’ – written, composed and illustrated by a Derbyshire man, and written entirely in Derbyshire dialect! This wonderful book was published in 1871 and contains cartoon illustrations and descriptions of the multiple water treatments available in Matlock at the time. There is also an account of a fight with the bath man!
To help the reader understand the dialect, there is even a glossary, and when read out loud, the reader will sound and speak with a true fluent Derbyshire tongue!
So, as a non-Derbyshire person, ah’l teych mysen, cos weel, ahm sure, ah canna spok Darbysher varry weel!
The second part of the book does describe Matlock at the time, with detail about the establishments and treatments that were available, as well as activities and entertainment available for tourists. Mr Smedley’s, Rock House, Matlock House, Jackson House, Tor House, Prospect to name a few. Another delightful snapshot of the period, is detailed in the advertisements at the back of the book. Other than for Mr Smedley’s Hydro and Matlock-Bank, these are mainly for businesses based in Derby itself, where the publisher Bemrose was based. The last advertisement includes a few lines penned by a patient.
Melanie, Archives Assistant