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© Peter Lomas 2007

Buxton Hydro Fact file

What is a Hydro? It is an establishment where patients went to obtain hydropathy meaning the treatment of disease by the application of water both internally and externally.  In the early Victorian era the regime was severe, early mornings, dieting, bathing, taking the water, exercise, no smoking or alcohol and religion.

Over the years patients' friends and relatives came to stay with them and they became much more relaxed places. Entertainment for visitors became a feature of many Hydros and they returned year after year. Eventually many became Hotels but keeping the name "Hydro" as it was felt that there was a certain “cachet” about the name even though no water treatments were given.

"The Buxton Hydro" plots the rise of this establishment from the Reverend James Shore's being unjustly imprisoned by the Bishop of Exeter for preaching without a licence to its becoming one of the largest Hydros in the Midlands run by Shore's grandson, HRP Lomas, only to face gradual decline after the First World War and eventual demolition in the 1970s.

The chapters covering entertainment and life at the Hydro may be of particular interest to Buxtonians. There were full reports of the magnificent balls and events in the Buxton Advertiser. There is also a short synopsis of some members of staff and permanent visitors to the Hydro. Many famous visitors stayed there.

HRP Lomas led an interesting life, being something of a linguist, musician, antique collector and traveller. He was also a bachelor. His 1874-1876 diary fits into the story and sheds light on what it was like to be a 14 year-old boy from a middle-class family at the time.

The demolition of the Hydro is once again the sad ending of a large Victorian building painstakingly erected over the years with all its history and swiftly demolished in 1973 as no use could be found for it.