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Ashover House Hydro (Ashover Hydro), Malthouse Lane
Ashover house

"There is a commodious hydropathic establishment here, erected by a company in a very good situation,
besides a smaller one, which has been in operation and has been already much enlarged;
Mr. W. H. Haslam is the proprietor".

Whilst the above quote, from 1870, in unclear about which premises was which, Mr. Haslam was the proprietor of Prospect House[1], later Ambervale; in 1885 his property had a hall, dining room, two sitting rooms and 9 single and double bedrooms as well as bath rooms for hydropathic treatments[2]. The larger establishment at the time, whose owners were the Hydropathic Company, was Ashover House Hydro on Malthouse Lane.

In 1869 shares for Ashover Hydropathic were offered for sale[3] and in September 1871 a large party of shareholders and their friends visited the hydro, surveying the grounds and house before playing croquet, etc., and then enjoying tea. During the evening they were also entertained and seemed to have been impressed by their investment. A few months earlier the census had listed only two people in residence at the hydro: Grace Halliwell, the manager and housekeeper from Halifax, and a local girl called Harriett Mycroft who was the domestic servant. This information suggests that the establishment was still being set up[4]. Miss Mary Piggin of Crich was shortly to take over the role of manageress[5]. She remained in the post for 23 years[6].

"Derbyshire Times", 26 October 1872.

Ashover House Hydropathic Establishment affords excellent accommodation. It is a substantial well arranged building, placed on rising ground, commanding a splendid southern outlook, completely sheltered by a background of hills rising abruptly to the north to the height of several hundred feet. It possesses an excellent arrangement of baths and appliances for hydropathic treatment ...

Amongst the visitors in the early years was the Right Rev. the Bishop of Sierra Leone, who stayed in 1877[7]. The following year Ashover House Hydropathic Establishment was "to be greatly enlarged and extended. There are to be many additions to the comfort of the House and last but not least a good billiard room"[8].

During the twenty years following Miss Piggin's retirement there were a number of different manageresses at the hydro. Her immediate successor was Elizabeth Gertrude Whittaker[9] and in 1901 there were 17 people registered as boarders and 12 live in servants with her at Ashover House on census night. New baths had been installed the previous year and alterations meant the year's expenditure had been heavier than normal[10]. Miss Hussey was running the hydro in 1903. By 1911 Elizabeth Savile Trolley was in charge and the census of that year stated that there were 59 rooms in total[11]. Ethel Rodgers was fined for failing to shade or reduce the lighting in 1916, something all premises were expected to do during wartime[12]. She seems to have been replaced by Miss I. D. Wilkie around 1917[13].

An advertisement in 1921, announcing that the hydro was under new management, described it as being "600 ft. above sea level; s. aspect; croquet, tennis, bowls, billiards; ex. cuisine"[14]. The following year the hydro was said to be at "the heart of the lovely Peak District. Six acres of grounds, Tennis, hard and grass courts: bowls, croquet, billiards"[15]. Mrs. Elizabeth Beatrice Taylor was living at Ashover House with her family and the hydro was now "under entirely new and experienced management".

By 1939 fifty three persons were in residence, a mixture of guests and staff. Mrs. Taylor was still working there; she and her son Douglas Holden were by this time Manageress and Manager respectively. Douglas was also an ARP warden whilst his sister Charlotte Taylor had joined the Civil Defence Nursing Reserve attached to Chesterfield Hospital[16].

A guest during WW2 was the sender of the postcard featured here; she was clearly enjoying her stay as she wrote that "We have walked miles, lovely country".

Another bishop, this time of the "Soudan", spent his holiday at Ashover Hydro in 1945. Rt. Rev. A. M. Gelsthorpe was said to have given an interesting address about his experiences in Africa and one Sunday morning preached at the Ashover Parish Church, with the service itself conducted the Rector, the Rev. L. C. Askham[17].

Ashover House remained a hydro in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War but before 1949, after at least 80 years of hydropathy, it had become the Ashover Country Hotel. The building was taken over by the East Midlands Electricity Board in the 1960s.

Ashover is mentioned in the following on-site transcripts:

Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811, Parishes A, which has more about the village.
Kelly's 1891 Directory, Ashover
The Gentleman's Magazine Library, 1731-1868

The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire - Charters, Documents & Deeds : Places A - B, mentions Ashover

"Ashover Hydro, Ashover". Published by Photochrom Co Ltd, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, No.42261. No date but probably before 1939. Posted on 5 Jun 1943 at Chesterfield.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References and notes:

[1] J. G. Harrod and Co.'s Postal and Commercial Directory of 1870, under Ashover. The individual entry, listed under General Trades, is "Hydropathic Establishment, proprietors the Hydropathic Company".

[2] "Derbyshire Courier", 8 August 1885. Sale of the late Mr. W. Haslam's Prospect House estate by Botham of Chesterfield. We learn from the "Derbyshire Times" of 17 June 1882 that Prospect House was established in 1864 under the superintendence of Mr. Smedley - i.e. John Smedley of Smedley's Hydro. The 1879-1880 1:2,500 OS Map of Derbyshire shows Ashover House as the larger of the two properties. These sites were relatively close together.

[3] "Morning Post", 19 July 1869.

[4] "Derbyshire Courier", 23 September 1871. Notes of the Way.

[5] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 9 June 1892. "Visitors to Ashover Hydro will interested to hear that Miss Piggin, the manageress, completed twenty-one years' service there last Whit Monday". So she began working there at Whitsuntide 1871. She is mentioned in the following commercial directories:
Kelly's 1881 : Ashover Hydropathic Co. Limited (William Bassett, sec; Miss Mary Piggin, manageress):
Kelly 1887, 1891 and 1895 : Ashover Hydropathic Co. Limited (Joseph James Shipman, sec; Miss Mary Piggin, manageress).
Mary Piggin must have left around the time the 1895 advert was placed in Kelly's.

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 28 July 1906. Mary Piggin was buried at Crich on 23 Jul 1906. She had retired from the hydro some years before. In 1861 she was working for a Philosophical Instrument Maker in Aston WAR as a cook and the hydro's food was often commented on during her years as the manageress.

[7] "Derbyshire Times", 30 June 1877.

[8] "Derbyshire Times", 28 September 1878.

[9] Kelly's 1899 Directory of Derbyshire records: Ashover Hydropathic Co. Limited (Joseph James Shipman, sec; Miss Gertrude Whittaker, manageress).

[10] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 21 February 1901. Report of the AGM of shareholders.

[11] 1911 census for England and Wales is published on Find My Past. Miss Trolley is listed in Kelly's 1912 : Ashover Hydropathic Co. Limited (Miss E. Trolley, manageress). By 1939 she was living in Leicester; she passed away in that city in 1941.

[12] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 27 April 1916. Miss Rodgers was one of several to be fined by the magistrates. She had been the hydro's manageress for about two years,so from 1914.

[13] Miss Wilkie's name appears in newspapers from May 1917 onwards as the establishment's manageress. An advertisement in the Dorset, Bournemouth, Guide Book of 1920 shows her still as manageress at Ashover House.

[14] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 30 June 1921. Advertising in the Hydropathic Section

[15] "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", 2 August 1922. Advertising under Hotels and Boarding Houses. Mrs. Taylor is mentioned in Derbyshire, Kelly's Directory, 1928 : Ashover Hydropathic Co. Limited (Noel Ollerenshaw, sec,; Mrs. Beatrice Taylor, mngrss.) Ashover, Chesterfield.

[16] Information from the 1939 Register. Mrs Taylor passed away in Harrogate in Feb 1853.

[17] "Derbyshire Times", 15 June 1945. Bishop Gelsthorpe returned from Sudan in 1952.

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