Matlock Bath was a famous Spa. Matlock developed as a centre for Hydropathy.
A spa is a place where there is a mineral spring.
Matlock Bath's curative drinking water came from medicinal springs.
Hydropathy was a kind of medical treatment, with
water being prescribed both internally and externally.
Though the drinking of water was recommended for those undergoing
the water that was consumed by the patients did not necessarily
contain medicinal properties.
A Hydro was a building (hotel) where these treatments were carried
The water cures of Matlock Bath and Matlock are discussed below
under the following sub headings:
| The Spa of Matlock Bath
In 1896 a warm (thermal) spring was discovered at Matlock Bath.
"The waters were first applied for medicinal purposes about
the latter end of the seventeenth century. The old bath, which was
of wood, lined with lead, was made in 1698".
This first spring, with a water temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit,
supplied what became the Old Bath Hotel and later the Royal Hotel.
Four people were involved with building this first bath, called
Rev. Joseph Ferne, the Rector of Matlock Church, Mr. Benjamin Hayward
of Senior Field, Cromford, Mr. Adam Wolley of Allen Hill, Matlock
and Mr. George Wragg, also of Matlock. The lease was later bought
by Messrs. Smith and Pennel of Nottingham, who erected two buildings
and opened a coach road to Matlock Bridge in 1702. After the coach
road was made the village developed as a watering place.
A second spring was discovered and the New Bath Hotel was built.
A third, slightly colder, spring was then found and the Fountain
Baths were built and opened to the public, with hot baths also
available. The more modern Fountain Bath, built after an earlier
bath was demolished in 1881, was 50 feet long and 20 feet wide;
the water's depth went from 4 feet to 6 feet and the bath held
33,687 gallons of water.
The discovery of these three springs marked the beginning of Matlock
Bath's prosperity as a spa and Matlock Bath became a famous and
fashionable spa resort, with several large hotels where people
went to take the water cure.
The table below gives an analysis of the water that people found
so beneficial to their health.
Analysis of the water taken by Dr. A. Dupré, Lecturer
on Chemistry at Westminster Hospital, London. Sample taken
from the Fountain Bath Spring.
Temperature of water 68 degrees.
|Chloride of Sodium . .
Sulphate of Magnesium
Sulphate of Calcium . . .
Carbonate of Calcium ..
Silica . . . . . . . . . . .
Organic Matter - Traces of Alumina,Potassium, etc. . .
Totally dry residue . . .
Lord Byron was possibly the most famous
of Matlock Bath's many visitors in the early nineteenth century;
he is certainly the person everyone remembers today. Other
important visitors to Matlock Bath in earlier times are listed
on the main Matlock Bath page,
though they did not all visit to take the water.
There was plenty of advice to be had about water consumption
and on the right are some observations and recommendations
by nineteenth century writers.
Matlock Bath declined in popularity for the health cures
of its medicinal springs as Matlock, and the hydropathic
treatments it became famous for, expanded. There were only
two hydros in Matlock Bath, the Clarence and the Royal Hotel,
and these were developed much later than those in Matlock
as the inhabitants of the village failed to grasp the economic
importance of hydropathy.
There's more onsite information:
Matlock Bath and Matlock Dale in 1802 describes how
things were 200 years ago, the complaints and diseases
and contemporary debates about the water's properties.
Nineteenth Century writers
had plenty to say:
"Matlock [Bath] water, drunk freely as a common beverage
throughout the day, to be likely to prove highly
beneficial in dyspeptic and nephritic affections"'.
Dr. Granville: "The Spas
"Don't bathe [in winter], but drink the warm running
water with milk or cream, and sometimes add the chalybeate,
which issues at the north end of the valley, and
we think they will do you good".
Dr. Adam: Article in an unnamed
local newspaper (mid nineteenth century).
The waters "are said to be particularly valuable
as curatives in rheumatism, consumption, gout, and
pulmonary and nervous disorders".
Jewitt: "Nooks & Corners
"The usual method of drinking the water is a glass
or two before breakfast, and about five in the afternoon.
The next day three glasses before breakfast, and
as many in the afternoon..."
Dr. John Elliott: "An Account
of the Medicinal Virtues of the Principal Mineral Waters
of Great Britain & Ireland".
| The First Hydro in the District
In late 1848 a hydro opened in Darley Dale, run by Dr. Antoin Rischanek
(sometimes Richenek), an Austrian gentleman from Gräefenberg
who had been the first physician at the Hydropathic Establishment
at Ben Rhydding,
the much lauded establishment at Ilkley where John Smedley was
to be later cured by Dr. Rischanek's successor, Dr. McLeod (see
Before entering the U.K. about 1843 Dr. Rischanek had gained considerable
experience in hydropathy. Yet he has almost been overlooked in
Derbyshire histories, possibly because of the forceful character
of John Smedley.
His hydro was near the Darley Toll Bar on what was then Hackney
Lane, now Dale Road South, in a house called The Grove.
When he first opened his establishment the house had 14 bedrooms
for twenty patients ... The mansion contains spacious dining and
drawing rooms, and convenient bath rooms ... flued up with full
baths and douches ... extensive pleasure grounds".
Dr. Rischanek installed a pipe connecting The Grove to the Sharder
well higher up the hillside. This belonged to one of the Dakeyne's
and Dr. Rischanek was said to have installed a tank on his premises
to store the water.
Rischanek's hydro was "supplied with pure water, not inferior
to the springs of Malvern or Ilkley".
Dr Rischanek advertised the lease for his "most successfully
hydropathic institution in 1850 and was clearly prepared to help
anyone who wished to take over : Dr Rischanek "will not object
to giving his personal superintendence and assistance for a limited
it is quite possible that he taught someone his
skills for a short time before he left the district, there
is no evidence to support the theory.
|After Dr. Rischanek's departure in 1851 the
house was, for many years, a private home. William Atkins of
Rockside was to buy The Grove in 1889 (see advertisement, right),
when it was described as having an abundant water supply. He
was to convert the property into a first rate hydro but
in May 1904 it was acquired for the education of the daughters
of the clergy and shortly afterwards became St. Elphin's school.
As for Dr. Rischanek, he returned to Ilkey, eventually setting
up a hydropathic establishment at Ilkley Wells where he lived until
1858; he then disappears from British records.
| The Hydros and
Hydropathy, Matlock's Expansion
The real expansion of the industry in Matlock
followed the building of the railway line; indeed, Dr. Rischanek
had already advertised that the Darley Railway station was
only ten minutes walk from his institution and Matlock's
hydropathists were not slow to follow suit. But the railways
can't really take the lion's share of the credit.
This has to go to John Smedley, a believer in water and
fresh air, and began when he bought a "small house" on
Matlock Bank from Thomas Bunting in 1853.
Davis had been giving hydropathic treatment at the property
in 1852 and
about six months before Smedley bought the house he had been
advising Davis about the treatment of his patients.
There is some confusion about exactly when Ralph Davis started
prescribing hydropathic treatment, though Benjamin Bryan,
amongst others, states that he had lived at Darley and started
in the business in 1851 (see
The First Hydro in the District, above).
This is now known to be incorrect.
Though others were very successful, it was Smedley who became the
main force in the hydropathic industry's development in
Hydropathy was slow to catch on at first and even
a few years later, in 1857, White's Directory shows
there were still only three establishments in Matlock. These
were Mr. John Smedley's, described as "near Matlock
Bridge Station", Mr. Ralph Davis's on Matlock Bank and
Mr. John Rogers', Matlock Green. See the full quotation on
see Matlock's Residents and Businesses in White's 1857 Directory.
It is worth looking at the population figures, extracted
from the census returns, to see the extent of the growth
in the town.
nineteenth century expansion, population and councils.
The ten yearly census may not have been taken at peak holiday
periods but there were always plenty of visitors and the
names of both Smedley's visitors and the establishment's
staff eventually began to be recorded in a separate book
as they were so numerous.
Census, Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment.
Census, Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment.
"BATHS - The Baths which have been established at
Matlock Town, within the last few years [1850s],
have not as yet attained that wide spread celebrity,
which has been obtained by its more fortunate neighbour
Matlock Bath; nevertheless, the support which they have
hitherto received affords strong evidence that the HYDROPATHY
system is not without its friends and supporters; and
from their close proximity to the beautiful and picturesque
scenery of the Dale, it is more than probable, that in
a few years they will prove a formidable yet friendly
rival, for a share of the public patronage which is enjoyed
in such an eminent degree by its elder sister.
There are at this time three HYDROPATHIC establishments
here, viz, Mr John SMEDLEY's, near Matlock Bridge Station;
Mr Ralph DAVIS's, Matlock Bank; and Mr John RODGERS',
Matlock Green; the largest of which is under the management
of Mr SMEDLEY. The situation of this house is highly
advantageous to health, being sheltered from the north
and east winds, by a lofty range of hills; the interior
is comfortably furnished, and has all the necessary apparatus
for carrying out the treatment, with water of the softest
and purest nature."
"History, Gazetteer and
Directory of the County of Derby", by Francis
White and Co., 1857, p.431, under the main heading
of Matlock Parish
(Contributed by Sonia Addis-Smith)
| John Smedley's
New Venture - An Alcohol Free Zone!
Mr. Smedley, who was born
at Wirksworth and died at Riber (12 Jun 1803 - 27 Jul 1874),
ran a successful
business at Lea Mills manufacturing woollen
underclothes. He had personal experience of a water cure
at Ben Rhydding after
becoming extremely ill on the Continental tour he and
his wife went on after their marriage. On his return he contracted
typhus fever, and the cure was a last resort when all other
Its success is why he resolved to provide facilities
and care so others would be cured of their ailments and his
illness changed his life in other ways too, most notably
his religious beliefs (see para 4, this section, below).
Smedley's new venture in Matlock proved an immediate success
and the original building rapidly became inadequate. Work
began on the present building on the Bank, still known locally
as Smedley's Hydro, in the late 1850s. In 1861 £10,000
was spent adding a drawing room, a glass front, bath houses
and bedrooms "warmed by steam" and
the premises continued to be enlarged until about 1890.
The water supply came, initially, from springs along a line
between Smedley Street and Wellington Street. Demand eventually
exceeded supply as water cures became more and more popular,
so water from the gritstone moorland above the hydro was piped
to and stored in large tanks at the reservoir on Wellington
Street close to the Duke of Wellington. This water did not,
however, contain the medicinal properties of Matlock Bath's
It was after his own treatment that Smedley became "an
energetic Primitive Methodist";
he preached both religion and temperance when touring round
the countryside with his tent. Whilst he was an eccentric
and would not listen to the opinions of others if they didn't
agree with him, he and his wife were also very kind, caring
people and he was a considerate employer.
of former employee
His workers, whom John Smedley already paid to attend a
half hour service every Sunday, were his guinea pigs. Once
he had decided to do so Smedley devoted himself to healing
the sick poor at Lea. Although he was very single minded,
he would, nevertheless, change his mind and experimented
with different ideas and treatments. At first he charged
just three shillings a day and his Matlock establishment
was non-profit making but, as the demand increased and more
accommodation was needed, the daily rate was increased to
Patients were not allowed to "compare notes" by
talking to fellow patients about what ailed them - in fact,
Smedley roundly told off people who did so, whatever their
No alcohol was allowed on John Smedley's premises; the probable
result of this was that off-licences which sold wines and spirits
flourished in the town, particularly around Smedley's Hydro!
The sale of alcohol in surrounding shops wasn't the only trade
to prosper and there were also tailors and hatters, hairdressers,
tobacconists, booksellers and bootmakers. So did shops such
as "Tinker" Wright's, the local ironmonger who supplied
the hydro rather than its guests.
Though John Smedley had many battles with the medical profession,
in 1872 he appointed the young Dr. W. Bell Hunter to the
Medical Department of Smedley's and he proved to be an inspired
choice as he "disarmed the prejudice of the Medical
profession against the exercise of Medical hydropathy.
After Smedley's death the concern was purchased by a limited
company, who spent about £70,000 on
"structural alterations and adornments".
John Smedley certainly left his mark on Matlock with his building
projects; just as Riber Castle dominates the Matlock skyline,
so Smedley's Hydro dominates the panoramic view of Matlock
Bank. Someone writing when it was first built described the
building as having the characteristics of a workhouse, a factory
and a barracks! But, clearly, Smedley was hedging his bets
as if the hydropathy venture had failed he could have turned
the building into another mill.
about Riber Castle
According to Benjamin Bryan, writing in 1903, Smedley's Hydro
was the focus for Matlock's leisure activities.
Between 1860 and 1939 everything from firework displays and
the circus to concerts and sports took place there.
Whilst Smedley's Hydro was much the biggest, it wasn't the
only Hydro in Matlock and Matlock Bath and there were some
20 hydropathic establishments providing treatments (excluding
all the lodging houses who offered treatments) at one stage!
These are shown in the table
of Hydropathic Establishments lower down the page. In 1888
Matlock House advertised Table d'hôte at 6 p.m. alongside
musical and dramatic entertainments, lawn tennis and billiards.
Things had changed from just curing the sick. By 1918 the
role reversal of guests serving the staff at Christmas time
was established and was even reported in the National press.
"There Was Red Tape at Smedley's Hydro Then"
Enduring Folly of Riber Castle
See the onsite extracts from
the London Gazette about John Smedley's patents in 1853
John and Caroline Smedley, photographed by the London Stereoscopic
The picture was published in
Famous Derbyshire Health
Resorts. The Matlocks, about 1892
"Matlock Bank is noted for its hydropathic establishments,
the introduction of which is due to the late J. Smedley
of Lea Mills and Riber Castle who, having himself derived
great benefit by the treatment, founded an institution
here for the practice of hydropathy in 1851 [sic];
this establishment, the property, since 1875, of Smedley's
Hydropathic Company Limited, is most complete and extensive,
and is available for over 200 visitors; alterations and
improvements have been made at a cost of £25,000.
Rockside House and Matlock House are hydropathic establishments
of the first class; there are several smaller ones, all
of which are delightfully situated".
Kelly's Directory, 1891
John Smedley's book, "Practical Hydropathy",
ran into a good many editions, the first published in July
1958* - almost at the same time as Dr. McLeod published "Ben
Rhydding, The Principles of Hydropathy", published
by Messrs. Hamilton, Adams & Co., London (perhaps no
Smedley himself is inconsistent with the publication
date; he said it was 1857 in the 1869 and 1874 versions,
a preface says 1863 and in 1861 he said in was July 1858,
which agrees with newspaper advertisements for the first
edition of his book.
From Mr. Smedley's "Practical
And from "Mrs. Smedley's Ladies Manual":
Mr. Smedley's tent where his employees worshipped.
(Also from his book "Practical Hydropathy")
"The success achieved by Mr SMEDLEY stimulated others to
enter the field in competition:-
- Rock Side Hydropathic Establishment was erected by Mr
Charles ROWLAND, in 1862 [sic], and subsequently considerably
enlarged. It is situated further up the hill at a height
of 800 feet above the sea level, and can be reached conveniently
and comfortably by the new cable tram.
- Prospect and Popular Cottage Hydros were established by
the Messrs DAVIS.
- Shortly afterwards Mr BARTON opened Jackson House for
the same purpose.
- Subsequently, he erected commodious and handsome premises
called Dalefield Hydropathic Establishment, in which he
introduced many improvements suggested by his experience,
and furnished it in first-class style. The house stands
within its own grounds, and commands delightful prospects
along the valley of the Derwent. The dining-hall, drawing-rooms,
&c, are all spacious, well ventilated, and handsomely
furnished, and various indoor and outdoor amusements are
provided. The heating arrangements are a special feature
to ensure an equable temperature in winter and stormy weather.
The establishment is not exclusively a sanatorium; it affords
accommodation to families and others who desire to spend
a holiday amidst the beautiful scenery of the English Switzerland
and it is also a delightful winter resort for those delicate
individuals who dread the severities of our English climate".
"History, Topography and Directory
of Derbyshire" (1895) by T. Bulmer and Co., p.417,
(Contributed by Sonia Addis-Smith)
The former Smedley's Hydro, with Rockside on the
top left of the picture.
The shadow of the lettering "SMEDLEY'S", covered with
the leaves of virginia creeper in the summer months,
can be seen
below the windows of the left hand side top floor.
| Some of the
In an interview with Benjamin Bryan, senior, who was impressed when
he visited Lea in late 1852 to see John Smedley's free hydropathic
hospital for his workers, Smedley was reported as saying that "an
erroneous idea had gained credence with the least informed portion
of the public, that hydropathy consisted of nothing more that the
sudden and violent application of water and intense cold, in all
cases indiscriminately, than which there could not exist a more gross
and mischievous fallacy" (Bryan's words, rather than a direct
quote). Bryan saw for himself "the various cold, tepid, douche,
head, foot, sitting and various shower baths", as well as the
methods of "packing", bandaging, applying the "dripping
sheet", "dry pack" and spirit lamp. Not long before
this Smedley had produced his first pamphlet, in which he stated
that "The great importance of this to a working man is, that
in an hour or two stop the first stages of fever, inflammation, bilious
attacks, violent colds, or rheumatism, without consulting anyone
... A serious illness in a poor family often causes them to be in
debt or difficulty for years after".
The Lea hospital catered for five or six patients but the hydros
in Matlock, which were not free, catered for far larger numbers.
Qualified doctors and nursing staff practised hydropathy
and some of these treatments are still perfectly acceptable in a
modern world, but others might now be now considered barbaric.
Some examples of the types of treatment available were:
- Head Bath - lying with the back of the head immersed in
cool or cold water for a period of time.
- Sitz Bath - sitting in cold water for a period of time,
sometimes with running water which would have been even colder.
- Steam Box - sitting in a wooden box full of steam with
only the head poking out from the top.
- There were douches of various strengths available, baths
for legs and chests, mustard packs and even a concoction
using chilli paste.
- Later treatments included Dowsing Radiant Heat
Baths (at the Royal Hotel), Turkish and Russian Baths, and
Plombières Treatment (Smedley's).
Read about the treatments available
in both Matlock and Matlock Bath:
Cures, Mr. Smedley's Baths, Boxes & Douches
John Smedley designed a range of steam boxes, baths and douches, as well as some
other gadgets, for use at both the hydropathic establishment and the free hospital
Hydropathic Establishment Matlock, Brochure, about
1925. Thirty two
pages of images and text provided information on the
tariffs, baths and treatments at Matlock's premier
Bath, Royal Hotel Brochure, about 1908
Establishments, 1891, when hydropathy was in its heyday
from Kelly's Derbyshire Trades Directory, 1891, p.442
||Name of Establishment
||Owner/Proprietor in 1891
House, Smedley Street [sic]
||Mr & Mrs Allsopp
||R Davis & Co.
view, Smedley Street [sic]
||(opened 1871, joined with Bank House 1874)
||Geo. B. Barton
||Elm Tree House
||(unclear, possibly 1862. Thomas Curzon
was there in 1876)
||J. L. Dean
||Malvern House, Smedley Street
||Job Smith - see biography
||(a hydro by 1886)
House Hydropathic Establishment
||(Robt. Hall, sec)
||(opened 1863, initially Manchester House)
||Old Bank House
||J. J. Brown
||(Jonas Brown running a hydro in 1864)
House & Poplar Cottage
||Thomas Davis & Sons
||(Prospect House opened 1859.
||Wm. Atkins, proprietor
(also the proprietor of Darley Dale Hydropathic Establishment);
William Moxon L.R.C.P., physician
[also see Darley
||Rose Cottage, Dimple
||Smedley Hydropathic Co. Lim.
||Alfred Douglas, sec;
William B. Hunter M.D.
& Charles Jos. Whitby B.A., MD, physicians
|(opened 1853, with short closure in 1859)
||Smedley Memorial Hydropathic Hospital
||Miss Ann Jackson, matron
||[Woodbine House,] Smedley Street
||Miss E Knowles
||Spring Villa, Smedley Street
||Sycamore House, Smedley Street
||Tor House, Jackson Road
||George Davis & Sons
||Rev Richard Nicholson
(see also Matlock Bridge)
||Rev Richard Nicholson
(see also Matlock Bath)
|(opened before 1861)
Note: Also listed under Matlock Bank was the Derby & Derbyshire
Convalescent Home (Miss F. Peet, matron)
|Needless to say, the Hydros and
hotels of Matlock and Matlock Bath needed a large number of
employees to make them function properly and workers were drawn
to the area from all over the country. Some came for the season
and some stayed permanently. Many came from the cotton areas
of Lancashire. I have already mentioned above how Smedley's
Hydro was a centre for leisure activities. It had its own orchestra
and musicians, as did the Royal Hotel in Matlock Bath. Rockside
held musical evenings and musicians were also employed at the
Palais Royal in Matlock Bath. Some musicians came from overseas
and settled in the town with their families.
The Hydros had developed into high class hotels, with Smedley's
and several other establishments having both a national and
an international reputation. Many visitors were very wealthy.
In 1916 Rockside, described as "800 feet above sea level",
was rated as first class hotel.
The larger Smedley's Hydro was 500 feet above
sea level. There were 13 hydros still listed in Kelly's Directory
at that time, plus the Hospital and the Convalescent Home.
The 1932 directory stated that Smedley's Hydro
had room for 350 visitors; Chatsworth (formerly Jeff's
Poplar Hydro), Rockside and other, slightly smaller, establishments
were also listed.
However, by the 1941 directory there were only three establishments
still advertising and the water treatments were almost at
The quotation below illustrates how the hydropathists tried to extend the season
to encourage winter visitors as well as summer ones.
- "It is the general impression that the WATER
CURE is applicable only in the summer time. This
is, however, incorrect, for almost all diseases are
quite as readily cured in the winter as in the summer;
and here at all seasons both visitors and invalids
will find a most comfortable home".
"History, Topography and Directory
of Derbyshire" (1895) by T. Bulmer and Co.,
(Contributed by Sonia Addis-Smith)
House & Church View Hydro, New Street
Henry Ward's hydro for over 40 years
Ralph Davis and John Smedley were the first two people
to open hydros on Matlock Bank. This was Davis's third
||Lilybank Hydro (Dalefield) -
opened by George Bernard Barton. With information about
the Barton family (the first of a series of images)
Hydro, formerly Poplar Cottage and Jeff's Poplar
Hydro (Chatsworth), 1900-05
||Advert for Matlock
House in 1869
From its opening to the outbreak of the
first world war (the first of a series of images)
1908, a couple of years after the twentieth century
refurbishment, much of which was in the Art Nouveau style
Rockside Hydro, 1925-45
A top quality hotel, with information about the people
who ran it
and Mr. Rowland
Charles Rowland built Rockside
| So who came?
"Noel Coward and novelist
John Wyndham came. Dame Clara, mother of Ivor Novello, lived
there. At afternoon tea in the Winter Garden, Violet Carson
played the piano."
This writer's father bought Dame Clara Novello's piano from
the sale when Smedley's closed, though it is no longer owned
by the family.
The curator at the Colour Museum in Bradford says that "William
Henry Perkin, discoverer of the first synthetic dye, Mauveine*,
was at Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment in December 1881.
H. Caro, a renowned European dyestuff chemist, wrote to Perkin
whilst he was at Smedley's. The letter is dated 10th December
1881" and Caro's letter is at Manchester Museum of Science
*"Perkin's discovery of Mauveine, also led to the
birth of the pharmaceutical and perfume industries."
| What happened
to the Hydros
The First World War (1914-18)
was a turning point in the fortunes of the many of the
hydros, though treatments continued at Smedleys, Rockside,
Chatsworth, Oldham House and Lilybank. Social changes
followed the war and then the Depression in the 1930's
dramatically affected the industry.
However, it was the Second World War (1939 - 1945) that
really ended everything.
Rockside, or "Hatters Castle", was taken over
by the R.A.F. immediately war broke out and became a
psychiatric hospital for sick airmen. Pilots or their
crew, suffering from nervous breakdowns after managing
to return to England with their aircraft and their fellow
crew members either severely wounded or dead on board,
came to Rockside for treatment. Suicide amongst these
patients was not uncommon and ECT therapy was used to
treat the men.
Chatsworth was taken over by a textile firm from Manchester
(C & A Modes), and used for offices. Chatsworth did
reopen after the war and continued as a hydro for a short
time but was sold to Derbyshire County Council in 1946
for adaptation as an educational and training centre.
Smedley's Hydro was used as a School of Military Intelligence
by the army. The late actor and author Dirk Bogarde was
one of the trainees there. The Hydro was de-requisitioned
in 1946 but eventually even Smedley's closed for business,
after a prolonged fight against compulsory purchase.
The building was taken over by Derbyshire County Council
at the end of 1955. The Council Offices relocated to
Matlock from Derby, and Matlock became the county's administrative
centre. The hydro building is now County Hall and is
affectionately nicknamed "The
Kremlin" by some locals. More about the closure
can be found via the two links on the right.
Rockside and a number of large houses became part of
the Matlock Teacher Training College, as Chatsworth Hydro
had done. The Training College was a highly respected
institution. Unfortunately for the town, the students
eventually moved to the larger Derby when the Derby and
Matlock Colleges amalgamated
Former student Janet Mitchell, who was studying in Matlock
at that time, writes that "we protested against
the move and the college allowed us to remain for three
years but we finally had to move to Derby for our fourth
year. We would have liked to remain there to complete
our course. My college friends and I remember Rockside
and the town of Matlock with much affection and we were
sorry to leave." She also corrects a misunderstanding:
"the decision to move students to Derby was one taken
by the college authorities".
Smedley's entrance - now Derbyshire's County Hall
understand that the County Council are suffering from claustrophobia
in Derby, and are coming to Matlock for a dose of hydrophobia."
Alan Wilcox, Round Table Area Chairman
at the Charter Anniversary Dinner. Quote of the week, on
Derbyshire CC / Smedley's Hydro project, The Derbyshire
Times, 13 Apr 1956
The once very beautiful and
prestigious Rockside Hall, shown on the right, was in a dreadful
state of repair for some considerable time after the Training
College vacated the building, despite the Grade II listing
it has to protect it. It had been vandalized and has suffered
from fire damage; the side facing Cavendish Road seemed to
be falling down on itself. This view, on the Matlock skyline,
shows windows that were partly boarded up as most of the
glass has been smashed. Sheer neglect meant that this building
was nearly lost which would have been dreadful as it is part
of Matlock's heritage.
Other former hydros fared better than Rockside and some
suffered similar mishaps, even if only for a short time.
Clarence Hydro in Matlock Bath closed about 1938 when the
people running it simply walked away, even leaving the pots
on the table. It became very derelict. After the war it was
sold and was then converted into flats. Restoration of the
building began in 2007 and is now completed.
Bridge Hall, at the bottom of Bank Road, had become
the Town Hall in 1899.
Also read: Rockside
Hydro - "Watered-Down Future for a glorious icon
of the age of the hydro"
Rockside before it was rescued and refurbished
| Wyvern House in Matlock, for many years Bank
House Hydro, eventually became Ernest Bailey's Grammar
School and is now the Derbyshire Record Office (pictured right).
Some other buildings have also changed use. One example is
Laburnum Hydro which ceased to be a hydro about 1933-4, then
became an old people's home and has more recently also been
converted to flats. The large hydro in the nearby parish of
Darley became St. Elphin's girl's school although has recently
also been sold and converted to flats and cottages.
Ernest Bailey's School
to contact Derbyshire Record Office
Kelly's 1891 Directory of Darley
|Oldham House and Prospect Place Hydro on Wellington
Street was also requisitioned by the RAF one weekend at the
outbreak of the war. It had been run for many years by the
Davis/Wildgoose family, but was bought after the war by two
sisters and turned into a private school, which closed in 1965.
The Presentation Convent took over two other old hydro buildings.
Lilybank (formerly Dalefield) was the last hydro to close and
was purchased by the Convent in 1962. Lilybank first became
the Nagle Preparatory School and then later changed its use,
becoming a residential home for the elderly. About thirty six
years earlier Chesterfield House, pictured below, had become
their Convent and School. Though Chesterfield House has been
extended and altered, Ralph Davis's original building is still
obvious in the right hand section of this photograph.
Back In Time - Lilybank", by Sally Mosley, is
an article about her schooldays as a pupil in the 1960s. It
describes what the inside of the Hydro was like shortly after
it was sold to the Convent
the Presentation Convent
The Presentation Convent, formerly Chesterfield House Hydro.
Caroline Cantor is a former pupil and this photograph was taken
at a school reunion.
Some medical web sites are (external links open in a new window)
of Diseases from Genealogy Quest - for explanations of old
Disease Names Frequently found on Death Certificates
Morbus - Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms
Heritage of Great Britain by Bath & Wessex Medical History
And also about water
Victorian Turkish Bath Databank. A not-for-profit educational
project in the UK
Photographs kindly provided by and© Andy Andrews, Caroline Cantor, Paul Kettle and the web mistress.
Information researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Please note that the information about Dr. Rischanek has not been
written about anywhere else and proper credit must be given to
Ann Andrews if it is used anywhere else and in any format.
Intended for personal use only.
links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web
 Lysons, Rev Daniel and Samuel Lysons
Esq. (1817) "Topographical and Historical Account of Derbyshire"
London: Printed for T. Cadell, Strand; and G. and A. Greenland, Poultry.
 There is more
information in The Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock
 A leaflet
for the Fountain Baths - "Analysis of the Thermal Springs" is
published in the "Just" images
section of this site.
 See "Gem
of the Peak", Matlock Bath in 1840.
The extracts show the prices of a bath and a list of the hotels
at that time.
 "Black's Tourist Guide to Derbyshire"
(1888) pub. Adam and Charles Black Edinburgh.
 The Darley hydro opening was announced
in "The Derby Mercury" of Wednesday 27 December
1848, and other newspapers of the day. Dr. Rischanek was reported
as being involved with Ben Ben Rhydding in "The
Leeds Mercury", 1 April, 1843 and was its physician
when it opened in 1844.
 Dr. Rischanek was a Darley Dale resident
in the 1851 census. Ralph Davies was to be found living
on Matlock Bank that year and was not employed as a bath man.
 "The Derby Mercury",
10 July 1850. Research by the web mistress and Ray Ash, who is
connected to the Davis family, has shown nothing to support the
idea that it was Dr. Rischanek who taught Ralph Davis although
circumstantial evidence makes it highly likely.
 "Derbyshire Times",
29 July 1893. Court case about a disputed water supply to a nearby
property. Several witnesses could remember Dr. Rischanek.
 "The Sheffield & Rotherham
Independent", Saturday, 20 September, 1851. He returned
to Ilkley, and opened
Ilkley Wells in 1856. The last time his name appears in newspapers
is in 1858, so he perhaps returned to Austria between then and
 John Smedley bought his Matlock property,
"a small house to accommodate six or eight patients",
in the Spring of 1853 ("The Derby Mercury", 27
April, 1853), not 1851 as sometimes quoted. Initially the building
did not alter, but rebuilding began later in the 1850s. Smedley
had begun by opening a Free Hydropathic Hospital at Lea. Also see: Smedley's
Hydro, Starting Out. Thomas Bunting is shown owning
two adjacent properties on the Smedley's site in the 1848 Tithe:
no.713 (House, Coal-house, Privy, Court and Garden) and No.714
(House, Outbuildings, Court, Yard, and Gardens). Thomas Bunting
was a lead miner, living on Matlock Green in the
1851 census. In 1851 George Ludlam was occupying one property
and Robert Bunting the other (see census
 An advertisement in "The Sheffield & Rotherham
Independent", on 6 April, 1896
says Ralph Davis established his business in 1852, so Davis was
technically the first to open an hydropathic establishment in
 Peach, Lawrence du Garde (1954) "John
Smedley of Matlock and his Hydro", Bemrose Publicity
Co.: Derby & London. Peach claimed that Davis opened his
establishment in 1851 but this conflicts slightly with reference  above.
However, Peach also said that six months after Ralph Davis had
opened his establishment, John Smedley had become the "medical
 Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History
of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose
& Sons, Limited.
 White, Francis (1857) "History,
Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Derby", Francis
White & Co.
 Smedley's own cure is mentioned in Hall's "Days
in Derbyshire", 1863, Chapter 5. The Wharfdale
Hydropathic Establishment and Ben Rhydding Hotel at Otley,
near Ilkley, Yorkshire where Smedley stayed had opened on 29th
May 1844 (from various contemporary reports in "The
Sheffield & Rotherham Independent" and "The
Bradford Observer; and Halifax, Huddersfield, and Keighley Reporter").
Dr. Rischanek was then in charge there. John Smedley had married
Caroline Ann Harward on 24 June 1847. When he underwent treatment
Smedley was under the care of Dr. McLeod ("The
Derby Mercury", 1 Dec, 1852); McLeod took
over at Ben Rhydding towards the end of 1847.
 Peach, Lawrence du Garde (1954), as
 "The Sheffield & Rotherham
Independent", 30 Mar 1861.
 Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways
and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London.
 An article about his visit to the
free hospital Smedley had established for his workers written by
Benjamin Bryan, senior, (as B. B.) was published in "The Derby
Mercury", 1 December, 1852.
 "The Derbyshire Village Book" published
by the Derbyshire Federation of Women's Institutes & Countryside
Books, 1991. ISBN 1 85306 133 6. The book itself is now out of
print, but the quotation is published here with the kind permission
of the Derbyshire Federation of Women's Institutes.
 "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire",
1887 - Job Smith submitted a surveyor's report in late 1886 for
alterations to his boarding house, after which it was advertised
as a hydro.
 "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire",
1891 } There are online transcripts: 19th
 "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire",
1916 } There are online transcripts: 20th
 "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire",
 "Kelly's Directory of