Smedley’s hydro, by Alex

In addition to researching my house, I also looked at documents relating to Smedley’s Hydro. What is now the County Hall in Matlock was once the hydro of John Smedley were people can come and relax with the water treatments, known as Smedley’s Hydropathic Establishment. Here are a few photographs from an old brochure for the hydro, showing it was surprisingly lavish and elaborately decorated.

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Alex Jackson

What links Derbyshire and Australia?

…a bath!

Smedley's Hydro, Smedley Street, Matlock, c 1920s

Smedley’s Hydro in the 1920s, courtesy of

There’s an unusual connection between Matlock and a town in New South Wales, Australia, as this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Dec 1903 shows:

“Visitors to the Blue Mountains have probably noticed that the station so long known as Medlow has had an addition made to its name and will henceforth be known as Medlow Bath. Not alone in name, however, has a change taken place at this picturesque pleasure resort… As the result of a beneficial visit to the famous Matlock Baths in Derbyshire, England, Mr. Mark Foy conceived the idea of building and equipping a hydropathic establishment and   sanatorium on the mountains.”  (see the whole article at:

It sounds like Mark Foy was very like our own John Smedley, who built Smedley’s Hydro in Matlock as a result of a life-changing visit to a hydrotherapy establishment on the continent.

If you look at pictures of the Hydro Majestic Hotel, which Mark Foy built in Medlow Bath ( you’ll see that it’s a strangely familiar hybrid of the Pavilion in Matlock Bath, and Smedley’s Hydro (now County Hall) – with a few additional architectural styles thrown in for good measure!  Like our Matlock Bath Pavilion, it is also currently undergoing a major redevelopment – though on a somewhat larger scale.

Who know Matlock’s influence could reach so far?