It is a former spa town with the name Matlock taken from the old English phrase “Moot Oak” and it lies across on the River Derwent. It has prospered from both the hydrotherapy industry and the cloth mills constructed on the river and its tributary Bentley Brook.
It was an unimportant collection of small villages in the Wirksworth Hundred — Matlock Town, Matlock Green, Matlock Bridge, Matlock Bank — until thermal springs were discovered in 1698 and a bath town was created.
The population increased rapidly in the 1800s, largely because of the popular hydros which were being built. At one stage there were around twenty hydros, mostly on Matlock Bank, the largest built in 1853 by John Smedley. This closed in 1955 but it re-opened again in 1956 as the headquarters of the Derbyshire County Council.
The town is also home to the Derbyshire Dales District Council as well as the town council.
Matlock is nine miles to the south-west of Chesterfield and in easy reach of the cities of Derby, Sheffield and Nottingham. The Greater Manchester district is only 30 miles away. Matlock is within the Derbyshire Dales which includes the towns of Bakewell, Ashbourne and Wirksworth.