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Advertisement for Darley Dale Hydropathic Establishment, 1891

The Darley Dale property known as The Grove, then a private house on what is now Dale Road South, was advertised for sale in 1889. One of the highlighted features was that it had "abundant water supply" and its grounds were extensive, covering over 51 acres[1]. It was bought by William Atkins of Matlock's Rockside Hydro for £11,250[2]. A large sum was spent rebuilding it, and some years later it was said to be one of the most magnificent institutions in Derbyshire[3].

The abundant water came from the Sharder Well on property owned by Charles Dakeyne[4]. A water pipe to the supply had been installed by Dr. Antoine Rischanek in 1848 when he became the tenant of the original building on what was then Hackney Lane and he opened The Grove as an hydropathic establishment, the first one in the Matlock District[5]. It was said many years later that he had also built a tank in the grounds, probably in 1849, so he would have a constant supply[4]. Dr. Rischanek was an experienced hydropathist of Austrian birth and had practised at both Ben Rhydding near Ilkley (until 31 May 1847) and then at Croston Tower, Alderley Edge[6]. He remained in Darley Dale until the middle of 1851[7]. For a time after he left the house remained empty but was bought by the Rev. Bathurst in March 1852[4], becoming a private house once more until William Atkins purchased it.

The hydros in Matlock and Darley provided training facilities for various football teams in the 1890s. Amongst the guests at the Darley Dale Hydro in 1896, described as a palatial establishment, were the members of Derby County; it was said that "Johnny" Goodall and his redoubtable team commended themselves by their bonhomie[8]. The Christmas period of 1900 saw a full house and, "as usual, the scene of much merriment and mirth" with the entire building being "appropriately and prettily decorated"[9].

The Grove hydro had been extended around 1897 and in August 1901 but Mr. Atkins was proposing to enlarge it again, including erecting a glass covering between the old and new parts and create a new lounge, along with other alterations. Another scheme was for a golf course and 24 acres were set aside to build it[10]. The course was highly praised by the Council[11].

But Mr. Atkins' tenure was reaching an end. His hydro closed for business in 1903[12], Mr. Atkins was in a little financial trouble[13] and the estate was first offered for sale at the New Bath Hotel in the September by the auctioneer Mr. Walter. The grounds had increased in size since William Atkins bought The Grove and in 1903 the property included farms and cottages, with land of 60 acres. The bidding started at £3,000 but when it only rose to £9,500 the lot was withdrawn[14]. There then followed a four day contents sale[15]. It was not until May the following year that it was announced the hydro had been bought to turn into a school to educate the daughters of the clergy from within the Dioceses of Chester, Manchester and Liverpool; it became St. Elphin's School[16].

William Atkins and his wife left the district, moving to his daughter's home in Moseley, Worcestershire where they died in 1910 and 1915 respectively.

Darley Dale Hydro and its lodge, 1903. From Abel Heywood's Guide.

Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, 1891, Darley
William Atkins was at Rockside, Matlock, in the 1881 census | the 1891 census.
He also helped the Matlock police when Mrs. Morrall was murdered in 1891.
The physician, William Moxon in Matlock in the 1881 census | the 1891 census | the 1901 census.

1. The top advertisement has been scanned from "Kelly's Directory of the Counties of Derby, Notts, Leicester and Rutland", Published London (May, 1891). Some improvements have been made to the original scan, but it is impossible to clean it sufficiently well where the print shows through from the next page.
2. Part of an advertisement published in Heywood, Abel (1903) "Abel Heywood's Guide Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock Illustrated."
Images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] "Derbyshire Times", 22 May 1889.

[2] "Derby Mercury", 5 June 1889.

[3] "Derbyshire Times", 31 December 1898.

[4] "Derbyshire Times", 29 July 1893. Court case about a disputed water supply to a nearby property. Several witnesses could remember Dr. Rischanek.

[5] Amongst the newspapers Dr. Rischanek placed notices about his hydro opening at Darley Dale were "The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent", 16 December, 1848 and "Derby Mercury", 27 December 1848. He was living at The Grove in the 1851 census, although the house name was not given.

[6] His resignation from Ben Ben Rhydding was reported in a number of newspapers, including the "Manchester Times", 21 May 1847. The announcement about Alderley Edge being open was found in the "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 10 May 1848.

[7] "Sheffield Independent", 20 September 1851. He returned to Ilkley but resigned from his post as medical officer at Ilkley Wells Hydropathic Establishment in 1858..

[8] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 12 February 1896 and "Derbyshire Times", of the 15th.

[9] "Derbyshire Times", 29 December 1900.

[10] "Derbyshire Times", 24 August 1901.

[11] "Derbyshire Times", 14 February 1903. Progressive Matlock.

[12] "Derbyshire Courier", 13 February 1904.

[13] "The London Gazette", 20 September 1904. Notice to creditors.

[14] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 29 September 1903.

[15] "Derbyshire Times", 31 October 1903.

[16] "Derbyshire Times", 28 May 1904.

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Read about William Atkins at Rockside