Taking the Waters in the Devonshire Dome
Uncovered this little piece of 1930's social history in a box of discarded bits in a dusty junk shop corner. It cost the princely sum of 50 pence. This type of gravure letter card with a series of 3-4 postcard pictures on it allowed room on the reverse for letter writing. Popular if someone was on an extended holiday or, as in this example, in convalescence.
The author of this letter, whom we'll call 'Father', is writing to his daughter's family on 6th March 1930. He is writing from the Devonshire Royal Hospital, Buxton where he is receiving treatment for rheumatism and injuries from an undisclosed accident. The Devonshire Royal was a popular destination for people to 'take the mineral waters' or undergo treatment in the therapeutic thermal water, 'Father' being one of them.Amongst a running report on the daily weather and how frequent the bus service is between the hospital and the town, 'Father' talks about the exhilaration of the daily douche treatment he is undertaking, where you are bombarded with a powerful jet of alternating hot & cold water,
"The force from douche would knock one down. It's grand like massage but better than that!"
The Devonshire Royal Hospital was originally built in the late 1700's for William Cavendish the 5th Duke of Devonshire. It was built to stable up to 110 horses and is most famous for it's domed roof. For quite some time it was the world's largest unsupported dome at 145ft (It still beats St Paul's dome of only 112ft!). By the mid-1850's Buxton water was so popular, the Duke of Devonshire's estate gave permission for the underused stables to be turned into a hospital to accommodate the large number of sick & injured seeking treatment.During both the First and Second World Wars the treatment offered there was often prescribed as part of the recuperation for injured soldiers.
The Hospital closed it's doors to patients in 2000 and the buildings now form part of The University of Derby campus.
'Father' has helpfully highlighted the dome on the photo below for his family...
It's amazing the journey which one little battered card can take you on...
British Film Industry footage of soldiers being treated at Devonshire Hospital in 1916