Updated 14 Mar 2001

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Letters from Walter Doxey 1895-

Letters from Walter Doxey (1867-1931) to his brother Alfred (1865-1933). Walter was keen on cycling and also the spirit world. Letter 1 was published by Cyclists Touring Club magazine on the 100th anniversary of his ride together with a photo of his bicycle, which had solid tyres, a pneumatic brake, and an acetylene lamp.

Letter 1

[letter from Walter Doxey 1867-1931
 to his brother Alfred 1865-1933 ]

                                               Bank Rd

                                                May 26th 95
Dear Alfred,

           I arrived home all safe & sound on Monday last, my machine I
am pleased to say behaved splendidly on the journey. I found on
examining my machine on Monday before starting I found the nut that
goes on the pin in the clip to seat stalk was split in four places. I took
this to Vick & he said he would send for another at once. Will you be
so kind as to call sometime when you pass & see if he has got this for
me. He said he thought the other one would hold till I got home &
strange to say it did so falling in two while I was cleaning my machine
next day. I have fastened it together with the help of a little copper wire
& fine solder & it might last a long time but of course it is a weak point.
I enjoyed my holiday last weekend very much it always feels so much
like coming home to come to your house & I always feel that I am both
comfortable & welcome a feeling that I am sorry to say does not
impress me in most places I go to visit. However I hope before the
summer is over we may be able to get a good few runs in together. I
had a run to Ashford in the Water last Thursday night the journey up
being against the wind took just 1 hour of course this was in daylight &
easy riding I rode all over the village had a look in the church yard etc
& then lit up & started home at a pretty good pace. At exactly 9 oclock
when I got over Haddon Bridge I found the handles had skidded about
8 inches out of true this I had to dismount & remedy but in spite of this
& the fact that I had to keep turning up my lamp to keep it lit &
straightening my handles as I rode I arrived home at exactly 20
minutes to ten - 9/40- the journey of 13 or 14 miles taking 40 minutes
(what about solids). On Saturday I put two small pieces of pin steel in
the handle clip & in my journey to Arbor Low in the afternoon over the
roughest roads it has ever been my lot to ride they never gave once
being as straight at the journeys end as at the start. We can have a
talk about the Druidical Remains when you come over as I must cut
this letter short. Father, Eliza, Lucy and I have been to Via Gellia
getting lillies this afternoon we got quite a nice lot but it is terribly hard
work to the feet. I am writing this while my feet soak in hot water to get
rid of the soreness in my toes. Don't think I have got gout or if I have it
is not mangy  gout. although I had plum pudding for dinner today I
never thought of this it must have got in my toe ends. But I shall have
to bring my epistle to a close as it is time I went to roost. We are
expecting to see you over this week end Sat if possible but if you
cannot get that day Gerty & William we expect to see & if you send
word what time you will start on your machine I will try and meet you at
Baslow. But must conclude hoping you are all quite well we are all
pretty & well at home at present I am pleased to say. So with love
hoping to see you all soon

                           I remain
                                Your affectionate brother,


Letter 2

                                       Smedley's Hydropathic Co Limited,
                                                    Matlock,  Derbyshire

                                                            Feby 27 1900

Dear Alfred,

            I was very pleased to receive a letter from you the other day. I
was only thinking, the day before the letter arrived it seemed a long
time since I had heard of you and intended writing. We have been very
upset at our house the last fortnight, Lucy has given birth to a little boy
but it has died so you may suppose we have not had either time or
inclination for much else. I am pleased to say Lucy is now up and
seems as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I do not
want a repetition of this last fortnight myself. I had one of the worst
journeys I ever undertook on that morning. I had to go to Oaker for the
nurse. It was 5/30 in the morning and I went on Candor. When I got
into the big fields I was completely lost as there was a thick fog and
everything covered by snow. I went in drifts up to the waist and
narrowly escaped going into the river on one occasion you may judge
from this the state we have been in here. I think there has not been
such a snow for years.
['Oker' is a village 2 miles NW of Matlock Bank. 'Candor' may be a
rough path which runs parallel with Matlock railway near 'The Bridge'  -

          I see there has been tremendous havoc wrought by the snow to
telephone and telegraph lines all up and down the country. With
respect to photography I hope you will find time to fish out your camera
tackle as I should like us to have a few excursions with the camera. I
have not done a deal lately myself. I have had a little practice printing
with Velox paper but cannot say I am at all satisfied with the results up
to the present. I managed to get three snow scenes while the snow
was here one Sunday but one negative requires intensifying before I
shall get a good print from it. I am going to say on rather different lines
with respect to developing etc. as I have had several hints from Mr
Barber which will I believe prove very useful but will see the results
before I say more.

         This letter has been written in penny numbers so you must
please excuse it if there is any inconsistency in the calligraphy. I have
just received a sale list from Gamage in which there seems to be some
cheap machines and accessories. Gents Loftio? machine £15-15-0 
list price for £4-19-6 and Ladies 16-16-0 for 5-7-6 also
Gents Metropole 12-12-0 for 3-19-6 and Ladies do £4-7-6.
These are all American I have seen the Loftio? at Smedleys last
summer and it is a beauty. There are also some cheap lamps Solars
7/11 King 4/9 both acetylene gas. But possibly you have received a list
as you have done some business with the firm. All is excitement here
at the receipt of the news of the relief of Ladysmith. It seems to be a
general halfday holiday except at Smedley's, who cannot afford it. Well
I shall have to bring my epistle to a conclusion. I hope yourself, Gerty
and the children are quite well. I do not think my machine will run to
enamelling this season, but will have to manage. The next thing will be
tyres. I hope we may be able to get in a good few spins together next
summer and the results may be a number of permanent reminiscences
of the old remains and scenes which are now stored up in the memory.

                                   Well I will close with love to all,

                                      I remain your affectionate brother,

The club a/c is as follows

         Dec 25     2-8
         Jan 20     1-7
         Feb 17     1-7
         March      1-7

This will clear to the 17 this month

P.S. Doris Doxey, Walter's youngest daughter, writing in 1993 says:

"----You ask about a village called 'Candor'. I believe it meant
'Cawdor'. I have never seen it written, but as a child, was taken
walking along a rough path which ran parallel with Matlock railway
station at the entrance, fairly near 'The Bridge' and I remember Mother
talking about Father having to fetch the midwife to her, for a girl baby
in vain and he went on CAWDOR and saw 2 ghosts (of his Mother and
grandmother) who gave him a message that the child would die (she
    Now the account of Father being waist deep in snow on a similar
errand I heard before, and he said he feard getting into the river. The
child was too small to live and made a 'little wry face' trying to live.
They were going to call her 'Lily' and the 2 spooks said 'We have come
to fetch your Lily'. They did!

Letter 3

                                        Henry Avenue,

                                          Dec 29 1913
Dear Alfred,

            We were extremely pleased to receive your letter. I thought it
probable that like myself you had all th'irons i'th fire this Xmas, as it
seems our lot to be fast most festive times of late years for myself I
dont worry much as I seem to be getting somewhat bedded down to it.
But am rare and thankful to have had no heavy sorrow? to deal with
on top of the other work. We had heard that Willie was starting at
Browns and am pleased he has got in with a good firm where there
should be every opportunity for advancement and experience. We
heard from Eva the other night that you had Lucy ill, I hope that she is
quite recovered and has been able to do full justice to Xmas fare as its
a wrong time to be ill when so many good things are about. All are
pretty well here except that Marjorie has got a cold and is not quite up
to the mark. Possibly she's had too much spadger, our Xmas sparrow
weighed about 12 or 14 lbs and we have had a rare tussle with it, was
plucking and drawing it between 12 and 1 am on Xmas Day (midnight)
its been very good however and holds out well except Turkey soups or
mince will be the finish. Have had several hidings from Marjorie
because I have asked her to have more spadger, she always says its
a Turkey. You seem to be having considerable trouble with the large
sets at your station and as you say it must be an awe inspiring
experience to have one burn out. I have not seen Frank since Dots
funeral and he has not been to our house, he has been at Mother's
ordering about generally several weekends and several days this
Xmas, but I have never met him and don't think I shall put myself out to
do so. There is plenty of room in the world for us both but like some
solutions we don't seem to mix well and so are better apart. Norah is
thriving well and looks like making a bonnie baby, she is getting good
care and attention, indeed had Eva not taken her in hand she would
have been dead some time ago, as she was in a poor emaciated
condition when brought to Matlock, but good nursing has told in this
case sure enough. Marjorie received Ena's card, it is a good portrait
just Ena, what is the doggies name? How is Willies motor bike
progressing, not got his licence endorsed yet I hope. If he does he'll
have to write to the motor journals about those perfidious police. Well,
shall have to conclude hoping you will all keep well and in good fetter
for Xmas cheer. With all good wishes for the coming year,

                     I am your affectionate brother,


(what no. got him in )

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