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 in the 1890s and there were some 20 or more such establishments in the Matlock and Matlock Bath area at this time.
It was a time when modern medicines were still in their infancy, and drugs like penicillin (Flemming, 1928) and other antibiotics were yet to be discovered. At the time, it was thought that natural spring or spa water regulated at different temperatures and applied in different pressures could ease a whole range of illnesses and complaints, as well as a therapeutic impact on mental health issues.
The andrewsgen website has a brief history, together with collection of images of Smedley’s Hydropathic Establishment