With a large proportion of the Bakewell and District Probus Club’s membership local to the area, it may be assumed that most of them possess a reasonably comprehensive knowledge of the town’s history and places of interest. However, as demonstrated by the guest speaker Michael Hillam at a recent meeting of the club, there are features about Bakewell that, even to some long-term residents, are not well known.
Michael, who is one of a small team of guides from Bakewell’s Old House Museum, highlighted a range of what he called ‘curiosities’ and he illustrated these with a series of slides, starting with a description of the former railway station which, unfortunately and most inconveniently, had had to be sited at the top of a long steep hill out of the centre of the town.
In earlier times, the rivers Humber, Trent and Derwent had enabled access for invaders to the district, while the tiny River Wye provided power for corn, cotton, marble and saw mills. Other features pointed out by the speaker included the motte and bailey castle, an unusual cycle wheel on the chimney of one of the town’s pubs, the sole remaining bank, and the prominent repair to the old market hall (whose original arcades are now only visible from inside). Attention was drawn to Old Paul, the elephant, among the cattle shown on the mosaic feature of the Co-op supermarket, the competing Bakewell pudding shops and two of the town’s highest achieving sons, Thomas Denman and White Watson. Turning to the parish church of All Saints, Michael commented that this ancient building contains sufficient curiosities of its own to fill an entire presentation.
He concluded this talk by describing how the local council’s proposal in 1954 to demolish two historic dwellings (dating from 1534 and 1601) was rejected, with the happy result that they were saved to become the excellent Old House Museum and Visitor Centre.
Details of the Bakewell and District Probus Club, including reports of earlier meetings, can be found on its website at www.bakewell probus.org