Matlock Bath is a village and civil parish situated south of Matlock on the main A6 road in Derbyshire, England, approximately halfway between Buxton and Derby. Originally built at the head of a dead-end dirt road running alongside the valley of the River Derwent from Matlock itself, the locality developed in the 19th century as residential and a spa town and still thrives on tourism. Development was and is very restricted due to the steep hillsides, with the majority of buildings on one side of the valley with only footbridges across the river. The road was upgraded and made into a through-way, now designated A6, avoiding the previous old coaching road approach to Matlock from Cromford over very steep hills near to the Riber plateau area.
In 1698 warm springs were discovered and a bath house was built. As the waters became better known, access was improved by the building of the bridge into Old Matlock and in 1783, the opening of a new entrance at the south of the valley. Princess Victoria of Kent’s royal visit in 1832 confirmed Matlock as a society venue of the time. Victoria’s party visited a pair of museums and a petrifying well. John Ruskin and Lord Byron were visitors, Byron comparing it with alpine Switzerland, leading to a nickname of Little Switzerland. Erasmus Darwin had recommended the area to Josiah Wedgwood I for its beauty and soothing waters, and members of the families vacationed and settled there. Edward Levett Darwin, son of Francis Sacheverel Darwin, lived at Dale House in Matlock Bath, where he was a solicitor.
When the North Midland Railway opened in 1840, carriages plied for hire from Ambergate station. The Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway ran a number of excursions, taking the passengers onward from Ambergate by the Cromford Canal.