Advent Calendar – Christmas Day

Merry Christmas. We hope you are all having a special day.

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Christmas Day Menu from Smedley’s Hydro, Matlock, 1915 (Ref: D7314/2).
How does it compare to your Christmas dinner? Lovely as it sounds I’m definitely looking forward to mine more.

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A special Christmas dinner, 100 years ago today

What became Smedley’s Hydro, at Matlock Bank, was originally opened by Ralph Davis in 1851, and taken over by John Smedley in 1853. Thoroughly convinced of the medicinal benefits of water treatment, since his illness and recovery in Europe, John Smedley considerably expanded the number of clients and the buildings over the next twenty years.

In the 1920s and 1930s the business declined as the popularity of hydropathy decreased. The building was requisitioned by the War Department during the 1939-1945 war. There was a short-lived revival of the business after 1945. The buildings and grounds were bought by Derbyshire County Council in 1956 as its main administrative centre, and they are still there today, just up the road from the Record Office.

Along with Riber Castle, originally designed as a home for John Smedley and his family, County Hall (Smedley’s Hydro) is the most impressive and imposing view from Matlock town centre, and further afield.

Unfortunately there is relatively poor survival of a lot of records for the hydro business, but there are a number of archive collections containing a range of different sources as well as a host of published books, articles and photographs in the local studies collection. Search the online catalogue and on site indexes for more information.

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