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Matlock: Belle Vue Hydro, about 1903
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The former Belle View Hydro is at the top of Steep Turnpike, just below the junction of Lime Tree Road/Chesterfield Road. The stone built Victorian house was "erected expressly for a Hydro"[1]. Today's building has lost the impressive entrance of columns and portico, which has been replaced by something considerably smaller.

An advertisement published in 1888[2] shows [Matthew] Stevenson's Hydropathic Establishment & Boarding House at Belle Vue practising "the same treatment as that used by the late John Smedley, viz. : The Mild Water Treatment, the baths being regulated to suit each patient". According to the advertisement, Belle Vue was established in 1860 and a sale notice from 1870 confirms this[3]. By then Matthew Stevenson was occupying the freehold property, presumably as the tenant. The visitors would have enjoyed lovely views of Masson from the garden and front facing rooms as the Hydro was said to have "commanding views of the most beautiful scenery in England"[2].

Matthew Stevenson began his working life as a brick maker[4] but some of his neighbours in the 1861 census already working in the Hydropathy business. However, it not clear who was at Belle Vue; nor is it known where Matthew learned about Hydropathy although it seems likely that he was a protégé of John Smedley given that he advertised Smedley's cures.

One of the Stevenson's guests in the 1870s was a Manchester dentist called Charles Brooksbank, who eventually settled in Matlock and became the dentist for several Hydropathic establishments, including Smedley's[5].

1903 advertisement, when it was run by the Warners

The Stevensons were to run Belle View for around twenty years, but Matthew died at the beginning of 1888[6]. His widow, Mary, married Adam Allsopp later in the year and the couple continued at the Hydro for a further thirteen or fourteen years[7]. By 1903[1] it had again changed hands and the proprietors were Herbert Warner and his wife Martha Ann, who continued to provide Hydropathic Treatment recommended by John Smedley (i.e. from Smedley's Book) at the establishment. They were still shown as living there in the 1911 census[8]. At the end of that year Mr. Warner instructed the Matlock auctioneers Messrs. Joseph Hodgkinson & Son to sell his "Household Appointments", etc. The property was described as having lady's and gentlemen's bathrooms, a kitchen, scullery, 4 sitting rooms, dining room, entrance hall, passages and 22 bedrooms. There were cellars underneath the building and an outside wash-house[9].

Belle View seems to have ceased to be a Hydro shortly afterwards. By 1932 the building had been empty for the best part of twenty years, apart from a short time when it was used as a glove factory. The ownership changed and the former hydro was to be converted into modern self-contained flats[10].

The photograph of the Hydro at the top of the page was published on a postcard advertising the premises.
The picture dates from around 1903 so was probably commissioned by the Warners.

The Stevensons advertised in Bemroses' Guide to Matlock ... , about 1869
(see bottom of page).

1 and 3. Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Judy Cooper. Unused, bur with a divided back. The stamp square has INLAND ½d STAMP FOREIGN 1d. Above the writing area it says For INLAND postage this space as well as the back may now be used for communication. For FOREIGN postage the back only (Post Office Regulation).
2. Warner's advertisement from Heywood, Abel (1903) "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated".
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Heywood, Abel (1903) "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated".

[2] "John Smedley of Matlock" (1888), John Heywood, Manchester & London. Republished by the Arkwright Society, c/o Tawney House, Matlock.

[3] "Derbyshire Times", 7 May 1870. "To be sold by private contract. A small Hydropathic establishment pleasantly situated at Matlock Bank, Derbyshire, known as "Stevenson's Hydropathic Establishment." The Premises have been used as a Hydropathic Establishment for upwards of Ten Years ... "

[4] Matthew Stevenson can be found living on Matlock Bank in the 1861 census. Matlock's Enumerators did not provide many addresses, so it is difficult to work out who was running Belle Vue in that year.

[5] In 1872 Charles Brooksbank paid for several advertisements in "The Derbyshire Times", giving his residence as Belle Vue. He later lived at Wellfield Cottage and in 1878 moved from there to Summer Villa ("Derbyshire Times", 28 December 1878). In the 1881 census he was shown living next door to the Hydro, though no address was given. Also see Post 1858 Wills, surnames B.

[6] Matthew Stevenson had married Mary Ann (daughter Anthony) Wildgoose on 14 June 1859 ("The Derby Mercury", 22 June, 1859). The couple were at Belle Vue in the 1871 census and the 1881 census. They advertised in Kelly's 1876 Directory (Matlock section) | Kelly's Directory 1881 | Kelly's Directory 1887. Matthew's will was proved in 1888. See Wills (S).

[7] Adam Allsopp is shown living at the Hydro in the 1891 census and the 1901 census. He and his wife advertised in Kelly's 1891 Directory | Kelly's 1895 Directory | Kelly's 1899 Directory. Also see Post 1858 Wills, surnames A (Mary Allsopp).

[8] See Kelly's 1908 Directory (two entries, under Belle View and Warner). They were living at Belle View at the time of the 1911 census, but the Hydro was not listed in either Kelly's 1912 Directory or Kelly's 1916 Directory.

[9] "Derbyshire Courier", 19 December 1911.

[10] "Derbyshire Times", 15 October 1932.