Riber Castle from Tansley

Tansley visitor guide


Tansley village lies 2 miles east of Matlock on the A615 Matlock to Alfreton road. The village is built along two roads: Nottingham Road, sweeping down from the Higher Ordish ridge which separates the valleys of Amber and Derwent and Church Street which runs off it northward along the branch valley which is what the 'tans' part of the place name means.

The village was originally part of the Parish of Crich but in 1844 a Chapelry District of Tansley was formed and in 1865 the existing Parish of Tansley was formed to include the adjacent industrial valley of Lumsdale which lies hidden to the northwest of the main village.

Years ago the occupations in the village were mainly farming and quarrying although there were several mills in the Lumsdale village. Today there are no more working mills and quarries but there are many light industries with six garden centres within half a mile of the village!

One local garden nursery owner quotes the reason for this as the result of 'a good loamy soil above the gritstone and a comparative absence of sharp late frosts on the breezy hilltops'.

The adult population today stands at 1,000 and is made up of a mixture of old and new villagers. The housing is also a mixture of old and new with most of the older stone built houses lining the two main streets.

Two churches
Church Street is considered to be the heart of the village because it contains the two village churches, the village green and the village shop. Halfway along the street is the Anglican Holy Trinity Church, built on a small incline.

The Methodist Church, although built in 1829, now has some unusual modern windows together with some particularly fine new blue wrought iron railings and gate at its entrance. Further along Church Steet stands the Community Centre which dates back to 1879 when it housed the Village Reading Room.

The original minutes book from the very first committee meeting is held by the Parish Council and provides a fascinating insight into the life of the village at the time.

Village Hall
The Village Hall erected in 1843 stands next to the village green. This mellow stone building began life as the Tansley Church of England School and one suspects the Village Green at it's side would have made an excellent playground for it's pupils. More than a century later a new school was built off Church Street and the hall has adapted well to its new role.

Together with the Community Hall these two buildings house the majority of the many village activities. One of the more recent additions to the events calendar of the village being the annual Well Dressings held in July. At the northern end of Church Street lies The Gate Inn, the other two thriving local inns, The Royal Oak and The Tavern being situated on Nottingham Road.

Local walks and places of interest
Around the village a network of footpaths lead through beautiful and varied countryside to Matlock and the surrounding villages. A lane to the left of The Gate Inn leads down to Oaksedge Lane which continues northward up a steep hill to a track below a magnificent pinewood.

There are outstanding views towards Matlock and Masson Hill to be had from here and soon the track arrives at Pond Cottages and the head of the Lumsdale Valley.

The Lumsdale Valley, hidden away and unknown even to many locals is a treasure of industrial archaeology and has a charm and magic recognised by all who see it. The name is probably derived from 'Lums', the Scottish name for chimney and gives a clue to it's industrial heritage.

It is not known why industry first came to the valley, but it is assumed to be because of the presence of Bentley Brook a narrow but powerful and fast flowing stream which chases down the valley from it's origin at the top of Matlock until eventually joining the River Derwent at Matlock Green.

It was the harnessing of the power of this stream that enabled successive generations to develop a series of mills in the valley. An ingenious system of ponds and water courses was devised to drive a whole variety of water wheels, and at one time some seventeen mills were operated from this one small stream!

The oldest of the mills dates back to the 1600's and most of the population of the village of Tansley found employment in these corn and bleach mills.

Arkwright Society
The mills fell into disuse in the 20th century but the Arkwright Society has stepped in to 'freeze' the remains of this fascinating development. The Lumsdale Project began in 1976 and by 1981 work began to preserve the complex of water mills and ponds and is still continuing today.

Heading down the valley a trail now exists which allows us to glimpse the work places of our ancestors. We can only wonder at their ingenuity in turning a remote and narrow valley into a thriving centre of production which was to be a forerunner of the more famous developments at Cromford.

Olive Brady


Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015