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Matlock: Smedley's Hydro, Extending the Hydro
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Enlarging the Hydro

Second enlargement of Institute.
Engraving by Bailey
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Images from:

Smedley's Practical Hydropathy

John Smedley

Davis' Chesterfield House Hydro, 1868


Smedley's, early 1900s


The inter-war years

"For the first few years of our practice we averaged from two to three hundred patients per. annum, and these mostly at our free hospitals, Lea Mills. ... But for some years our want of bedrooms has kept the numbers about stationary. We have so repeatedly tried medical assistants and failed, that we were unwilling to increase our accommodation. The last year, 1867, however, we had to refuse so many that were hopeless of cure or relief by any other means, that we decided to build a new wing to our Establishment, and trust to Providence for help. Now, March, 1868, the building, 200 feet long, 50 feet wide, and four storeys high is being rapidly completed. Every appliance and convenience our long experience has taught us will be brought into operation".
John Smedley
Riber Castle, 2nd March, 1868.
From Preface from another edition (p.351-2)[1].

Part of Ralph Davis's original hydro building, bought by John Smedley in 1853, can be seen on the right of the top image. Bailey's engraving was first published in William Adam's 1857 edition of "Gem of the Peak", and the author went on the describe the hydro and the effect it already had on Matlock Bank:

"We cannot pass another edition of the Gem through the press, without noticing an Establishment which, of late years, has risen into considerable importance, and exercised a beneficial influence on Matlock Bank, on which it is situated ; for the rude* cottages, and sometimes the ruder* natives, have put on an air of neatness, and assumed a higher moral tone, by observing and sometimes mingling with the higher classes of society, owing to the house often being so full, that beds are obliged to be procured out of it amongst the people, which circumstance has occasioned the establishment of nine lodging houses not before needed. The establishment we allude to is the Hydropathic one, established by Mr. Smedley of the Lea". The demand was so great that Smedley extended and enlarged his premises. "The result has been the erection of the handsome Saloon, sixty-five feet long, with three deep bays or recesses. Beyond this is formed a magnificent parade, glassed in, of nearly one hundred feet in length, and of considerable width". ... "Underneath this parade, through its whole extent, is made a series of admirable baths, on the newest and best principles". At the south end was the females section, with a private entrance, whilst the men's baths were in the north end of the building. There were more baths for men than for women.

A library was in the north of the Saloon, which had a skylight of coloured glass. The gentleman's drawing room was close by whereas the ladies' drawing room was at the south end, "opening into which is Mrs. Smedley's private room. Smedley's was a "well-regulated and private house", providing "secure comfort, health and happiness to its inmates".

*Note that when Adam used the words rude and ruder he meant primitive or simple as the buildings would have been or unsophisticated as the local residents undoubtedly were.

Enlarging the Hydro again
Our third enlargement of Institution

Also from "Practical Hydropathy"
View from Bank

Starting out

Drawing Room

Riber Hall

Matlock Bath

Heights of Abraham

High Tor


Riber Castle

You may also like to view
There is a poem, written in 1874, in memory of John Smedley
Advertisement in Hall's "Days in Derbyshire" (1863)
Advertisement for Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment, Bemrose's Guide, 1869
"There Was Red Tape at Smedley's Hydro Then"
About Matlock Bank
See Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment Enumeration Book in the 1891 census
And in the 1901 census

The above mid 19th century engravings and quotations have been taken from:
Smedley, John "Smedley's Practical Hydropathy, 15th ed.", James Blackwood & Co., Paternoster Row, London. By the time this edition was published Mr. Smedley had died and the business had been taken over by Smedley's Hydropathic Company (Limited).
Image scan and information written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Smedley, John "Smedley's Practical Hydropathy", 15th ed.

[2] Adam, W. (1857, 6th edition) "The Gem of the Peak; or Matlock Bath and Its Vicinity. ..." John and Charles Mozley, Derby, and 6, Paternoster Row, London.