Dr Granville visited Buxton on his tour of English spas in 1839. While having some good things to say about Buxton, he objected to the ‘venerable’ attendants who handed out the drinking waters, and to the penny tip which was expected...(read more)
DERSR : b910
Practical Hydropathy by John Smedley, 1872.
In this publication, John Smedley describes the treatments offered at spa resorts, such as his own hydropathic hotel in Matlock. The book boasts that it includes "plans of Baths and remarks on Clothing, and habits of life with One Hundred and Sixty anatomical engravings and physiological explanations".
Smedleys Hydro was a comfortable hotel providing individual treatment programmes for guests, including steam baths, water massages and internal cleansing (douches). It wasnt always pleasant! The Smedleys were leaders in hydropathic therapies, even writing self-help manuals for people to use at home. Smedleys Hydro was eventually the largest hydropathic hotel in Britain. From the 1850s until the second world war, people came to the spas both for hydrotherapy (water treatments) and relaxation.
In 1851 the Hydro on Matlock Bank opened as a modest 11 roomed private hospital. Two years later, John Smedley bought the hospital and it went from strength to strength. He handed over the day to day administration of Smedleys Hydro to his physician Dr William Bell Hunter (1842 -1894) in 1875. In its heyday there were over 260 bedrooms catering for more than 2,000 people. The building is now the headquarters for Derbyshire County Council.
Matlock Baths spring water was discovered in 1600. At 20°C, it is cooler than Buxton water. Matlock village, in the beautiful, sheltered valley of the River Derwent, soon attracted visitors. From the late 1700s both Buxton and Matlock Bath developed thriving tourist trades, with hotels, theatres, concerts, horse racing and ballrooms. By the 1900s, customers came to both towns for hydrotherapy water treatments believed to cure all ills.
- Rights: Creative Commons CC BY-NC 4.0 Buxton Museum and Art Gallery (part of Derbyshire County Council)
Wonders linked to this object:
These three postcards show Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment which was built in 1852. The first is an artistic picture and the second a photograph with the building at some distance. The Smedleys are prestigious family in this area; they established a mill at Lea Mills which still operates to this day. They built the Hydropathic Centre, as well as Riber Castle. Hydrotherapy had its heyday ... (read more)