Matlock Bath's famous cable cars pull in 900 visitors for day to celebrate 40th anniversary

Celebrations rang out on the hillside above Matlock Bath as 900 visitors marked the 40th anniversary of Derbyshire’s famous cable cars.

Characters in Victorian costume provided the welcoming party and entertainers made a song and dance as springtime sunshine put the icing on the cake.

Cable car superfan Essie Fletcher, 5, from South Normington pushed the big green button to start the cable cars’ first journey on their big day. Essie had been nominated by her grandfather, Gary Coope, after visiting the Heights more than 20 times in 2023. She was also the first child to receive a certificate marking her flight into history when she reached the summit.

Engineers past and present who have kept Britain’s first Alpine cable car system running smoothly for four decades were presented with a birthday cake by the Pugh family, owners of the Heights for 50 years.

No birthday party would be complete without dancing and singing and the entertainers delivered on both fronts. T’owd Man Morris from Wirksworth danced up a storm in eye-catching costumes inspired by the grey, black and silver colours of lead mining activity.

Bolsover based violinist Arjay’s wonderful rendition of Can’t Help Falling In Love With You spurred a couple from the crowd into dancing.

Local legend John Gill entertained with songs about Matlock Bath including a song he wrote especially for the cable cars and another about the dangers of pouring petrol on a bonfire.

Folk band Kootch shone as bright as the sun with a scorching mix of self-penned songs from their new album, Taller Than Mountains. Beth Lilleyman’s beautiful voice was complemented by the talents of husband Dean on guitar, Katy Campbell on violin and Ian Tilbrook on banjo. Bouncy beats and ballads, lost love and train strikes drove the music and themes of the songs played on the ampitheatre stage by the Kootch performers from Stonebroom and Sheffield.

Elsewhere, there was much fun to be had underground and overground – exploring the Great Masson Cavern with its new sound and light show, climbing the Victoria Prospect Tower for breath-taking views and burning off energy in adventure playgrounds.

Children proudly carried their certificates as they left the celebration, a treasured gift from a special day that will stick in their memories long past their own 40th birthdays.

*The celebrations continue during May Bank Holiday with a Victorian weekend (May 4-6) and the Big Music Weekend on May 18 and 19. Further details are available on the Heights website