Historical Background

The GREENAWAY WORKSHOP was created in 1981 to provide useful work for adults  with long term health issues in Derbyshire, within the limitations of their individual abilities, be they physical or mental.

Following negotiations between local organisations,  most notably the Rotary Club of Matlock, and the County Council, the workshop was built by Derbyshire County Council.


The opening ceremony was performed by Matthew Parris MP on 20th November 1981 and, on the 27th July 1982, the Workshop was visited by HRH Princess Anne. 

The workshop is the fulfilment of an idea conceived by the Vocational Service Committee of the Rotary Club of Matlock.  John Jillings was Chairman of this committee as well as being Director of Social Services.  Whilst other small places had facilities for sheltered workshops, there was nothing similar in the Matlock/Darley Dale area, despite the obvious need

A group of Rotarians looked at one such workshop in Lincolnshire to see what provision was possible.  This workshop was a renovated and adapted but unused village school.  It was managed by a committee who raised money towards equipment for use in the workshop.

The Derbyshire Social Services, along with the Rotary Club, decided that it would be feasible to establish a similar workshop within the Matlock area, and the Social Services undertook to provide the building.  Fortunately money was found at fairly short notice and a building was erected.  A public meeting was called and was attended by 13 people, it was decided to form a committee made up of representatives from the organisations in the town – Rotary, Inner Wheel, Round Table, Ladies Circle, Rotoract, Lions Club, Mencap Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Social Club for the Disabled, a representative from the County Council and also from Social Services, with two members of the workshop to be invited onto the committee.

The aim of the workshop was to provide therapeutic work for up to 20 people with a disability, living in the West Derbyshire area.  It was decided that the activities of the workshop should not be over ambitious, or based on expensive technology.

The workshop is open to individuals with physical or mental disability, those mainly living in the Derbyshire Dales area, who are unable to go into full employment, but can manage to do therapeutic work in a social environment.  The workshop opened in September 1981 with a staff of one and a workforce of seven; we now have a workforce of some 15 adults. The work was a bit limited at first – repairing rush seating and chair caning.  At that time the workshop was only open for 3 days a week.

Matlock Round Table carried out research into the possibilities of establishing printing facilities.  They got expert advice as to what type of machinery to have and what type of work was possible to be undertaken by disabled people.  They donated the money for the letterpress.  With the letterpress we were able to begin printing tickets, programmes, stationery etc.  It soon became apparent that with a litho press we could offer greater facilities to businesses and organisations; again expert advice was sought.

This time we received marvellous help from Reverend Norman Bray and, under his guidance, we purchased a second hand machine.  Although Rev’d Bray has moved from the area we still hear from him  from time to time.  We have now purchased two more machines from him.  It is great to have someone who knows our limitations and would not try to sell us anything that was technically outside our needs and capabilities.

Derbyshire County Council has supported the workshop from the start.  Due to Council Tax capping our grant was cut by 50%, and this was very worrying for us.  In fact we came very close to having to close down.  We held two events to raise money but they came nowhere near the £3800 that we had lost from our grant.  Local organisations have been very good to us, particularly Matlock and Bakewell Rotary Clubs – they donated money to the workshop that has kept us going. Thankfully our grant has since been reinstated.

In 1981 the staff did not receive any remuneration.  Today some only receive minimum permitted earnings because of the other benefits they receive.  It does seem hard as everyone does a good day’s work.  We can pay travel allowance, which helps a little.

The atmosphere in the workshop is very pleasant. We have an incredible group of workshop members. Their attitude and concern for each other is an example to many other groups.

The work continues to come in; it took 7 years to achieve the restoration of 1,000 chairs, but the following year they did 500!  It still amazes us where people keep finding the chairs.

In past years, we have attend both Ashover Show and Chatsworth Show. By showcasing the skills used in the workshop at the events we have also generated work and spread our name over a wider area.  Chairs from Chatsworth Estate and the Crooked Spire church in Chesterfield have been repaired at GREENAWAY WORKSHOP.  We will tackle all jobs large or small – we don’t mind.

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