The Matlock Mural

Eyesore…. to Artwork

Matlock Civic Association (MCA) had been concerned for many years about the stark appearance of the 250 metre length of concrete walls built as part of the Sainsbury’s Development in 2007. The walls are alongside Derwent Way, the main A6 road which now bypasses Matlock Town Centre. The walls were getting worse due to dirt and staining. In the absence of action by other agencies to address the situation, MCA set up a project to create a mural illustrating key points of interest in the town. This is the story of two years’ work converting that idea into reality – a story of transforming an eyesore into new artwork. The mural was unveiled in 2015. MCA now undertakes periodic cleaning of the mural to conserve it.

Project Conception & Planning

Matlock Civic Association (MCA) had been concerned for many years about the poor appearance of the concrete walls built as part of the Sainsbury’s development in 2007. Mainly alongside Derwent Way, the walls continue across the new bridge onto Cawdor Way – the access to the Sainsbury’s store. Visitors to the area often drive past our town without realising it. Dirt and staining quickly made the walls even more unpleasant. Despite MCA’s concerns, no measures to improve the appearance of the walls were being taken. The possibility of the Civic Association organising its own project was therefore explored with the relevant Authorities. Several ideas were discussed but the only scheme that was acceptable was the painting of a mural. It was decided that the mural’s design should reflect some of the features of Matlock for local people to take renewed pride in their town and also to encourage visitors to stop and explore what Matlock has to offer.

Permissions were needed from four different Authorities:

  • Network Rail – because the wall was built to protect the railway line below.
  • Derbyshire County Council – because they own the wall and are responsible for its maintenance. DCC is also the Highway Authority and traffic and safety considerations had to be borne in mind.
  • Derbyshire Dales District Council – the Local Planning Authority – needed to consider the environmental impact nd would need to decide MCA’s application for planning permission.
  • Matlock Town Council – needed to accept responsibility for the maintenance of the mural once it had been painted.

MCA commissioned a mural artist from Chesterfield, Peter Barber. Peter has a national reputation and has painted several murals in Chesterfield (most recently on the end-wall near the Coach Station). He had been to school in Matlock so knew the town. Working with MCA, Peter produced a design which was used to secure the necessary consents.

Fund raising was pursued based upon estimated costs of £8500. A grant of £150 was secured from DCC but the decisive contribution was £3000 promised by Sainsbury’s. With this promise, MCA was successfully able to persuade the Town Council that the balance should be split equally between the Town Council and MCA.

Site Preparation

It took several months to secure the funding and the seven consents needed. In August 2015, work started on site with a thorough power washing of the walls. This was followed by application of algicide (to prevent a recurrence of the red staining) and a sealant. Finally a basecoat was applied.

Peter Barber power washing to give a deep clean
Will Heathcote applying the algicide to prevent a repeat of the red staining
Finally a basecoat is applied

Painting in Progress

Transferring the design to the wall (Peter Barber assisted by Stephen Malcolm)
The wording is
Adding the “K” in Matlock
Scrolls & Oak Leaves (“Matlock” means meeting place by the oak tree) and Outline of the Bandstand in Hall Leys Park

Cycling – One of the things to do in Matlock
Connor Brooks finishes off some of the details of Riber Castle

Other features on the mural include the Crown in Crown Square, the old Tram Shelter in the Park, Rockside Hall and Smedley’s Hydro (now County Hall)

The Official Opening

The mural was officially unveiled on 7th November 2015.

Pulling away the flag to reveal the dedication (to the principal contributors).
From L>R; Tony Symes (Chairman of Matlock Civic Association), Cllr. Steve Flitter (Mayor of Matlock), Cllr. Andy Botham (Derbyshire County Council), Matt Bingham (Sainsbury’s Store Manager)
From L>R; Tony Symes (Chairman of Matlock Civic Association), Cllr. Steve Flitter (Mayor of Matlock), Peter Barber (Artist), Ken Parker (MCA’s Project Manager), Cllr. Andy Botham (Derbyshire County Council

The Mural was recognised in the 2016 Civic Voice Design Awards. Since then, MCA has organised periodic cleaning sessions by volunteers to keep the mural in good condition.


MCA carries out periodic maintenance on the mural.

2019 Cleaning

Another cleaning session was carried out in June 2021

The finished product; panoramic photo courtesy of Tracey Grant

Press Release about cleaning; 12th June 2021