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Bemroses' Guide to Matlock ... , about 1869*
Eighteenth and nineteenth century tour guides about Matlock Bath and Matlock
 
Matlock Bank and Riber

The Bridge at Matlock, Bemrose
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Mr. Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment
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p.42 [continued] HYDROPATHY.

To the right, however, it assumes bolder features of wider sweep, opening out the old town and church, and a little further on we halt at MATLOCK BRIDGE STATION, close to the right of which is MATLOCK BANK, the headquarters of hydropathy for the Midland counties. The introduction of hydropathy into this district is due to John Smedley, Esq., the enterprising and philanthropic proprietor of the Lea Mills, who, having himself benefitted by hydropathic treatment, commenced the practice of it at Lea Mills, in 1851, for the benefit, in the first instance, of his workpeople. The necessity of providing accommodation for the number of neighbours and visitors who sought to avail themselves of the water cure, led Mr. Smedley to purchase a house at Matlock Bank for that purpose. From time to time this house has been enlarged, until it is now one of the most complete and extensive establishments in the kingdom, affording accommodation, with the last new wing, for 200 patients. The Bank now has in it numerous establishments of various capabilities (see Appendix) ; and the number of visitors who frequent them is a testimony to the excellence of the treatment and the attractions of the place.


Engraving of Matlock Bank, about 1869. The mediaeval stone bridge over the River Derwent is in the foreground.
Image rescanned 2008 Ann Andrews


The celebrated RIBER HILL, of historic renown as a resort of the Druids, and a military station of the Romans,

p. 43 RIBER CASTLE.

forms a noble back-ground to the prospect, and awakens many a recollection of ancient legends, which ha ye long since faded into fable. On Riber Hill, in a most commanding and picturesque situation, 600 feet above the Derwent and 860 feet above the sea, is Riber Castle, an extensive and imposing edifice, erected by Mr. Smedley for the double purpose of a residence and a Hydropathic Establishment, at an estimated cost of £35,000. The Castle, which is a landmark visible for many miles) is an oblong square, about 145 feet long by 110 wide, with four towers 90 feet high, and four bays 50 feet high, and is built of gritstone from the quarry close by. In the interior construction and arrangement everything has been effected which modern art and science can suggest and apply for comfort and convenience. From the broad staircase a gallery, open to the roof, runs the whole length and width of the building. Beneath it is the principal saloon, 100 feet by 30, and 45 feet high. Round the gallery is a canopy five feet broad, on which are slide boxes for books, also statuary, shrubs, and flowers; and at each end of the gallery are peculiarly constructed geometrical staircases leading to the upper gallery, from which the towers are entered. On the roof are a shrubbery and. summer-houses, from which are obtained beautiful and most extensive views on all sides. The chimneys are built of circular bricks, and are independent of the walls, never requiring sweeping. Sax's patent electric bells, with one and a half miles of electric wire, are in use, and Mr. Smedley's new plan of constructing and heating hot-houses is also adopted, along with many new and valuable inventions.

Delightful acanthus leaf engraving below the text on page 43.
Image scan 2004 Ann Andrews


*Transcribed from
'Bemroses' Guide to Matlock, Bakewell, Chatsworth, Haddon Hall, &c' by John Hicklin, Third Edition, pub Bemrose and Sons, London (no date, but about 1869).
Reproduced here with the very kind permission and help of Sonia Addis Smith, whose book this is from.
OCRed and images scanned by Ann Andrews, 2001 - 2004.
The following may also be of interest
Water Cures
About Riber
Matlock Images: Photographs, Postcards, Engravings and Etchings