Publisher: Edgar Wright, Speedwell Cottage, Upperwood, Matlock Bath
This photograph was taken outside the Fishpond Hotel in Matlock Bath which has retained its name as the Fishpond Bar. It depicts a charabanc which is often mispronounced as “sharra-bang” in colloquial British English. The name derives from the French char à bancs meaning “carriage with wooden benches”; a mode of transport first appearing in France in the early 19th century. Early charabanc were horse-drawn but combustion engines became a more common sight until more conventional modes of public transport started to make their mark in the Peak District.
This form of transport enabled visitors to explore the local area. Charabancs were normally open top but they had a large canvas folding hood stowed at the rear in case of rain. This can be seen folded up on a concertina fashion at the rear of the vehicle. Due to their uncomfortable nature, their use was often limited to short day trips.
By zooming into the photograph, we have been able to see the owner was one J. Mitchell. Locals have dated this photograph to be around 1918-20. At this time a charabanc still had solid steel wheels with rubber tyres – these were superseded by wheels that had spokes. Its top speed would have been around 12Mph, and anecdotally, many people say you would not want to travel much faster!