Updated 10 Jan 2008

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 561


Smedley's Hydro, 1889.

These Architect's plans of Smedley's Hydro at Matlock were published in 1889 in "The Building News". A good description of the myriad rooms within was also given (see below). Much more about Smedley's empire is given elsewhere on this website.

Smedley's Hydro 1875.

Smedley's Hydro 1889. The writing on these plans is hard to read, even with full-screen size. However, a much larger image is available on the CD of this website.

The Hydropathic Establishment and its Baths III
by R Owen Allsop, Architect
(Author of "The Turkish Bath: Its Design and Construction")

The commercial success that attends the hydropathic establishment, when promoted in all earnestness, and carried on under firm and resolute management, is demonstrated by the growth and prosperity of "Smedley's". The present flourishing condition of the establishment belonging to the Smedley Hydropathic Company, Limited, so pleasantly situated, overlooking a grand expanse of Derbyshire hill and dale, is an example of what steady perserverance and firm adherence to principle can accomplish. Originally owing its existence to the enthusiasm of the late John Smedley, the first "establishment" on the site of the present extensive building was a mere cottage. Herein a few sufferers placed themselves under Mr Smedley for treatment on that system of water-cure in whose cause he had become enthusiastic by reason of the great benefits he himself had received at the establishment at Ben Rhydding in Yorkshire. From that time to the present day the management of Smedley's has been carried on with strict reference to the purpose for which it was established, and in accordance with the principles upon which the system of hygienic medicine called "hydropathy" is based - a system, however, modified in a measure at Matlock, as it is more or less at other hydropathics. The result of this persistant endeavour in one direction has been unwavering success. In the course of a comparatively small number of years, by gradual means, the institution has developed till at the present time it is of sufficient size to accommodate little short of 300 patients or visitors. Since it was transferred from Mr Smedley's hands to those of a limited liability company, it has been the subject of more extensive and elaborate alterations than any hitherto effected - alterations which include the addition of a sumptuous dining-hall, and a drawing-room second to none in score of completeness and beauty. When Mr Smedley's connection with the institution ceased, the medical supervision devolved upon Dr B.W.Hunter M.D., formerly of the Bridge of Allan Hydropathic Establishment in Scotland. Dr Hunter has ever since held the position of consulting physician at Smedley's, his name as a hydropathic practioner having become of world-wide renown. To his long experience and unremitting adherence to hydropathic principles the continued success of Smedley's is due.

The extent of the present building is shown by the plans of ground-floor, which, owing to the kindness of Mr A H Douglas, the energetic manager, I am enabled to publish, together with plans of baths and basement. The building consists of ground floor, with sitting and dining-rooms, &c., a basement for stores, &c., and three bedroom floors. The baths are not, properly speaking, in a basement, as the ground rapidly slopes towards the Derwent river, and the bath-houses are thus above ground.

A bridge from a landing in the old wing crosses the street, and communicates with a building over the way, where is sleeping accommadation for female servants, having underneath a steam laundry, and near by a room for engine and dynamo for electric lighting. The plans do not show the secondary building.

The polygonal portion, at the top of the plan, is the "old wing"; the rectangular portion, at the bottom of the plan, is the "new wing", both being built in Mr Smedley's time. The new block between the two, including the beautiful drawing-room and dining hall, and kitchen, &c., has been erected by the present company from the designs of Mr Statham, architect, of Nottingham and Matlock.

Entering by a handsome vestibule into a spacious hall, we find in convenient positions an office and a reception-room for serving meals to newly-arrived visitors. Close by is the passenger lift to upper floors, and on the other side of the hall the handsome main staircase, behind which is a gentlemen's lavatory. The sale-room, entered from hall, is for the sale of hydropathic appliances, baths, &c. The main corridor abuts on a corner of the hall. Past a secondary corridor at right angles that admits to the grounds and terrace walks, are rooms for manager and matron. On the north of main corridor is the spacious dining-room, with coved ceiling and top-lighted. Doors on the other side of corridor admit to a private dining-room - useful for nervous invalids unfit to take meals in the public dining-room - and to ladies' and gentlemen's cloak-room, through which may be gained the drawing-room, provided with an excellent stage for amateur theatricals, recitations, &c., arranged by the visitors. The dining-hall communicates, by means of a servery, with the kitchens, which are provided with ranges, roasting-fire, and steaming oven. The still-room adjoins kitchen and servery. Adjoining the scullery is the bakery. In the range of small buildings adjoining are meat and fish larders, and storerooms for provisions, and clerk of works' room. Off the kitchen is the dish-room, and above ervery is a plate cleaning room.

Off the corridor of the west wing is the gentlemen's reading-room, to which is attached the billiard-room. Adjoining the latter apartment is the physician's room, connected with a waiting-room and ladies' room. This portion of the plan may be noticed as particulary suitable and convenient. Gentlemen, if they have long to wait for their interview with the doctor, may find interest in the billiard and reading-room, and ladies indisposed to remain in the public waiting-room, may retire to their own room adjoining. The remainder of this portion of the plan is taken up with a ladies' lavatory, a gentlemen's lavatory, and bedroom. The fine general reading and writing-room close to the hall, and near the stairs to the baths, was formerly the drawing-room.

The first floor is devoted to bedrooms with necessary conveniences and housemaids' closets; and the same may be said of the second and third floors. Off the corridor on first floor will be noticed a lobby, allowing of access to a spacious balcony. Several verendahs and covered balconies are arranged on the garden side of the building, and these admit of a certain amount of exercise in bad weather. This, it is to be observed, is a most important point. Hydropathy, it should be remembered, is not merely the "water cure". This is a popular delusion, and very harmful to the cause, Hydropathy is a system of hygienic medicine, calling to its aid every auxilliary calculated to promote health. Without regimen the "treatment" is vain. Exercise, diet, early hours, and regulated living must be studied, together with the bath and bathing. Taking the first of these, exercise, we find that it must be persisted in regularly, and in all weathers. Moreover, a certain amount of exercise is often prescribed by the hydropathic practioner after bathing and treatment. It therefore becomes of the highest importance that some provision be made at hydropathics for invalids to exercise in places protected from the inclemencies of the weather. In a model institution this object would be best effected by appending to the main building an elongated glass structure of the "Winter-gardens" type.

Referring again to the ground-plan of Smedleys, adjoining the reading-room are the stairs leading to the bath-houses. Passing under the reading-room, a corridor is reached, which, besides leading to a smoking-room, allows access to the ladies' baths, to the gentlemen's baths, and to the Turkish bath. The suite of ladies' and gentlemen's baths are practically identical in arrangement. Each consists of a corridor, with bath-rooms and dressing-rooms on either side. In the dressing-rooms are couches, where the patient may be given the various packs, bandages, and compresses. Off the centre of the length of each corridor are two douche rooms, containing douche and needle baths sitz baths, and ascending douches. There is nothing complicated about these baths, simplicity and effectiveness being the order of the day in arrangements under the control of Mr Wilson, the head bathman. Nevertheless, the Company propose to alter and enlarge the bath-houses at an early date, preserving, however, their present character. The Turkish bath is arranged by the side of the other two bath-houses. It has a cooling-room with plunge adjoining, shampooing-room, tepidarium, calidarium, and laconicum, or "flue room", as it is here called. In one of the shampooing-rooms is erected a Russian bath, and steam fittings. Adjoining the furnace-chamber are drying-rooms and boilers for hot-water coils, and for supplying steam. The Turkish bath was arranged under the direction of Dr Hunter, the very effective method of heating - plans and explanations of which it may be useful to give when speaking of baths in detail - being his own design.

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