Buxton Civic Association
Whatâ€™s Inside Lightwood Reservoir
Page 2 Duke's Level Page 4 Wye Head
Market Well Page 6
News from the Editor
We are inundated and flooded by the enthusiasm of our membership! As BCA grows we have members active in new and existing groups. We encourage use of our café and schoolroom for meeting up and meetings. As members we pay membership of £12.50 a year knowing it’s a donation towards a Buxton charity, active in our community. The Biodiversity Group started this year with ideas for promoting wildlife corridors (more details page 11). BCA was represented at the HPBC Climate Change Summit by one of our new directors. Dangers of further flooding were discussed and we hope for blue skies and sustainable green ideas from our creative thinkers. Water has a historic role in Buxton and members have written articles about the Duke’s Level, a canal, hidden in the hills above Buxton and ‘Buxton Champagne’, the miracle cure of our thermal spa. Well, Well, Well – that’s a historic monument on our Market Place (with at least three names) in desperate need of attention from everyone. ‘Taking the Waters’ is brought up to date with an article about the refurbished Pump Room where Buxton Water can be taken away in souvenir glass bottles. There is also an article about a mystery Christmas present involving a spa, steam and towels! The River Wye commences close to BCA’s show cave at Poole’s Cavern. Alan Walker our General Manger enthuses over the mystery of its underground secrets. I feel he would love to find ways of fixing a camera to a water droplet on Axe Edge and follow it to the sea. Excitingly, the River Wye may become a High Street feature again with plans to open up areas of Spring Gardens and make it a green feature of our townscape. The plans are controversial yet it is heartening to see the natural environment included alongside plans to redevelop our built environment. Spring Gardens was always centred on retail but it is facing such a seismic shift that new ideas from all sources are welcome. Please encourage our membership to grow. However you choose to get involved, being part of BCA can only help. Contact: communications@ buxtoncivicassociation.org.uk
Reservoir words Mark Cocker award winning author and naturalist
There was a time in Buxton, when I was a child growing up during the 70s, that the town’s water was very much taken for granted. Back then, our H2O was neither the makings of multinational profit, nor a resource for one of the private ‘utilities’. At that time, it was just corporation pop and there was a lot more of it, because Buxton had its very own reservoir at the top of Lightwood Road. It wasn’t much to look at. You could walk right around its shore in a matter of minutes. Nor was it very different from the many other small holding tanks once dotted about this landscape from Glossop to Leek, and from Macclesfield to Bakewell. Nonetheless, Lightwood Res was the real deal. It had railings and red-brick linings steeply angled on three sides, a pump house among the trees, a steel walkway through the middle of the water and even, at one time, a sign in red letters warning you not to swim for fear of drowning. I looked upon it as a rather solemn old friend, a fixture as closely embedded in my sense of place as the water itself was nestled by gravity in its wedge-shaped hollow. And from on high, say from Brown Edge Woods or Flint Clough, it sat at the centre of Lightwood as a little blue heart. Yet like most deep steep-sided oligotrophic lakes in the area, it was no big deal for wildlife. You were lucky in early March if you found a couple of mallard pairs paddling at its edges. Occasionally it did add this element of pleasure to a walk round Lightwood: the meadow pipits, before they returned to the moors to breed, gathered to feed on its brick-lined shore, while the first swallows of the year would also dip and swirl through the cold air which billowed over its ruffled surface. More special still were the grey wagtails - tails pumping madly, sulphur underparts clear in the sunlight when they suddenly sallied up and snatched at insects, then resumed their wander among the railings. Come mid-April the male bird’s shiny black throat was among the first unequivocal statements that summer was imminent. Most memorable of all, however, were the common sandpipers, those little toffeecoloured wetland birds from Nigeria or Senegal that routinely bred somewhere in Lightwood’s stream bank or the surrounding woods. They always returned about the third week of April, males first, then by May a pair would appear, and even sometimes - more than two. On those strangely quivering wings and amid peels of their high rippling calls the birds chased one another in nuptial flight from one end of the res to the other. It was glorious sport and looked formalised as if it were a welcome-home ritual to celebrate that they were back where they belonged - Lightwood. And for all its small size and artificial origins, its cold brown water and ecological poverty, the reservoir was redeemed from any ordinariness by a dash of African magic.
Spa at the Dome words Steve Phillips
What do you buy the dad who has everything? The dad who is impossible to treat? A Spa Treatment – we are all supposed to be ‘experience driven’ when it comes to gifts now. So today it was time to redeem my voucher and ‘experience’ my first ever spa session. Today’s customer enters via the south facing extension completed just before World War One. The great Victorian water treatment expert and Chair of the Buxton Bath Charity, Dr William Robertson, probably turned in his grave when they started pumping water up the hill to reach the hospital as he said water loses its therapeutic value if pumped. On arrival at the Spa I heard ‘the Music’ which resembles the fading notes of distant violins with bows moving slowly in one direction then lazily returning. Treatment starts in the relaxation room where, clad in swimwear and a robe, time begins to stand still. You sit or lie and maybe sip water. My therapist entered and introduced herself in a whisper. I whispered my name back. Then I was ushered into a small treatment room. I sat beside a couch and leaned across it. The music played. The lights dimmed. I had come for a cranial massage but treatment begins in the lower back. Strong fingers probed for tight muscles while I breathed as instructed. Big sweeping movements were followed by a pummelling. Then I was ready for the couch. Oil was applied to the back of my neck which was scooped upwards as were my shoulders. Then the facial with more large sweeps of the hand. Unanticipated was the pinching of the eyebrows and tweaking of ears. This was all done so skilfully that I could hardly imagine being able to stir ever again. Suddenly treatment was done and my therapist discreetly exited the room while I climbed off the couch and, returning to the relaxation room, I definitely needed a lie down with waves of sleep overcoming me as the music continued dreamily. Dr William Robertson really missed a treat.
was tickly and like watching your feet cook for lunch. The dry heat room was a real five minute boil. The wet heat room detained me for about ten seconds. Cleary I am a dry heat sort of person. The bath intrigued me as it was one formerly used by patients. When I worked at the Devonshire Royal hospital I would see patients disappearing down the ramp to the baths below for treatment beneath the vast floor of the Dome. It was a place I had never ventured until now. I tweaked a couple of knobs and the thing roared into bubbly life. I could no longer hear the music. Swimming in that warm spa water was like gliding through honey. I wondered what dramas had occurred here as traumatised patients resumed moving limbs again for the first time. I emerged with intention of trying the ice which apparently some people rub all over their body. I managed hands and I think I got the idea. Time to leave. In the changing room I noticed a comments book filled with positive compliments about the experience. I had nothing original to add and found myself adding, “A wonderful moment of relaxation.” Yes I would like to return and I find myself now even more impatient for the reopening of the Mineral Baths. With a spring in my step and feeling about ten years younger I then stepped out and entered the evening darkness of a January rush hour in Buxton.
Then it was time for the sauna which I had all to myself. I was shown around then had to decide which order to try everything. The first shower made me jump until I realised that there was a red button as well as blue which offered warm water. The aroma room was a soothing mix of eucalyptus and menthol. The foot spa
by Peter Allsop
The snow had fallen again During the night, like a phantom With hushed breath. Almost up my knees, I plod Up the Old Road, Up into the arctic landscape. The wind whips the surface To a fine stinging powder Coating my clothes with a white crust. A lone raven coarsely croaking Tumbles in the bleached white sky Like an escaped shadow. There is nothing rare here, Nothing exotic in this ‘howling wilderness’, But the openness and the freedom To breathe in the vast landscape. Gulping it down like the elixir of life To taste a harsh tranquillity.
Down on Edgemoor Lane, where The hawthorns line the road I watch the blackbirds gorge On the now wizened dark, red berries. The birds are probably from Scandinavia, Vikings from across the North Sea Pillaging our abundant fruit. Four fieldfares fly over, And a small flock of greenfinch Fill the top of a beech tree. Soon I reach the churchyard, The headstones seem to rise Out of a white, frothing sea Like black teeth. The mistle thrush Is in the holly protecting each berry With indignant zeal from marauding Blackbirds. Rosehips glow starkly Beneath the early streetlight And the cold is now as sharp As a blade as I climb the hill For home, slipping and sliding In the snow.
The Duke's Level
There had been no rain for a whole week and yet the River Wye, as it snaked itself through the Pavilion Gardens, was suddenly a thick, opaque orange. You may well have observed this random event and it is a local mystery that Alan Roberts took me up to Level Lane in Burbage to solve. The ‘Okker Brook’ runs under the bridge as you climb the Macclesfield Old Road and as the houses begin to thin out there is a road on the left called Level Lane. If you walk to the end of Level Lane and turn right along a narrow public footpath you will join the Okker Brook again. I don’t know how you really spell the name because it’s one of those local names that’s never seen written down but everyone locally uses. It runs orange because it contains ochre, iron oxide, or rust, from the coal seams. Above the point where the water floods out from the old mine workings the River Wye changes from clear and fast flowing as it mingles with industrial archaeology. The Duke’s Level was a canal, driven into the hillside to enable the miners to dig seams, prevent flooding and transport coal from underground. It was ingenious. The deeper mines went, the harder it was to deal with drainage and ventilation. In The Duke’s Level the water could drain and the miners could dig upwards towards the seam. It was similar to the 1759 workings at Worsley. The first development in the use of boats for underground transport was by John Gilbert, the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal and mining engineer. Interestingly, Gilbert was responsible for Ecton Mine in 1767 and the Speedwell Level in 1774 (Speedwell Cavern in Castleton still uses underground boats for its tours). As the 5th Duke of Devonshire was directly responsible for the operation of Ecton Mine it seems quite likely that John Gilbert was also responsible for driving the Duke’s Level. Level Lane, where the coal was taken from for burning in the Crescent, is deliberately sited below the Goslin Bar Toll Gate on the new 1759 Turnpike so that the payment of tolls was avoided. The remains of coal tip show where coal and waste were stacked (coal has been found behind the current No Parking sign). 4
the editor interviews Alan Roberts
The canal tunnel at Worsley 1759. This arrangement was similar to the entrance to the Duke's Level.
The large, flat rectangular area in the grounds of the last house in Level Lane, now used as a manège for exercising horses, was the dock area, still shown as a rectangle on the 1895 OS map. By 1790 the Buxton season had become well established. Down Level Lane a small line of carts were filled from a large stack. From the mouth of a nearby tunnel a boat laden with coal appeared from time to time to be unloaded and return into the darkness. The boat was pulled through the water by a child. In Thomas Wyld’s accounts for the mine for 1790 a ‘lad’ identified as William Kirk had the task of ‘boating the coal’ for a ‘day rate of 8d’ (3 ½ p). It was three shillings (15p) for admission to the Card Room in The Crescent. Over four days’ work for William underground in water. The Fifth Duke had synchronicity for his new tourist attraction. As the richest man in England he felt well placed to increase his personal wealth. Plenty of coal was accessible for running a top grade hotel, supplying heat for the hotel, kitchens and of course the spa treatments. The first ‘motorways’, the turnpike roads, made connections by horse and carriage easier. All logistics were in place for development of Buxton as a first class spa.
Alan would like to know if any BCA members can unravel another local mystery. Burbage folk say that the ochre was used as pigment as it settled in the old disused dock. It was a small business with the pigment taken into Manchester to be used as a dye. Maybe the dock filled with thick, opaque, orange ochre when a minor blockage or rock fall was swept away. There is anecdotal evidence that children played there before it was sealed due to nationalisation of coal in 1946. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
of a River words Alan Walker
One of BCAs less well known woodlands is at Wye Head where the River Wye emerges from its journey through Poole’s Cavern. Nearby is Lismore Fields, a site from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, located here because of the proximity of pure water. Stone Age people climbed into the Cavern for warmth and water. Before roads were mapped, rivers orientated journeys because their courses were permanent and meeting places could be described. Mapping the River Wye is complex. It drains off Axe Edge Moor where limestone and gritstone meet (where Stanley Moor Reservoir used to be).
Map of Derbyshire 1577 by Christtopher Saxton © Devonshire Collection Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees.
There are a series of ‘swallets’ – small caves that the water sinks into. It is complicated because some water flows to Wye Head without passing through Poole’s Cavern. However one stream sits on a lava bed and flows down a valley then into the ground at Bore Hole Swallet. This is where the flat roof of the pumping station on Grin Low Road can be seen. Severn Trent used to pump water back into Stanley Moor Reservoir to mix peaty water from the moor with limestone-rich water from the borehole to make it pure. It takes four hours underground for water to flow into Poole’s Cavern from Bore Hole Swallet. It then continues underground to Wye Head. Here the other little river that also started at Stanley Moor also emerges but the huge cave system that that water disappears into is as yet undiscovered! This confluence of streams flows into the boating lake in the Pavilion Gardens. A spring at Otterhole, near Cavendish Golf Course, forms a short cave system and offers a source of spring water. It is fed by the hills around Shay Lodge. This Little Wye (part of the Okker Brook) runs through BCA’s Gadley Woods and on to the Serpentine to join the Wye from Wye Head. They join up beyond the boating lake in the Pavilion Gardens. The Wye is culverted through Buxton, as was fashionable in Victorian times, to improve land use and reduce river smells. Streams and rivers from Lightwood join the Wye in Ashwood Park. The River Wye is 15 miles (24 km) in length, and is one of the major tributaries of the River Derwent, which flows into the River Trent, and ultimately into the Humber and the North Sea. Later in its journey, the River Wye is popular with anglers owing to the large numbers of wild brown, rainbow trout and grayling it contains. The alkalinity of the Wye provides a rich source of nutrients that leads to an abundance of insects, invertebrates and other wildlife. This ensures that fish grow quickly on a diet of freshwater shrimp, sedge and upwinged flies (to name but a few of the foods available). Some of the largest populations of water voles in Britain can also be found along the River Wye. We are the guardians of the source of this beautiful river rising as it does so close to Poole’s Cavern. Our ancestors used it to map their journeys and lived off its bounty. If you would like to be involved in projects to promote the biodiversity from its source please contact BCA at Poole’s Cavern.
The River Wye inside Poole's Cavern.
in the Market Place
words Alyson Phillips from BCA talks by Adam Bench and Chris Simpson
Eagle Parade Cistern • Market Place Fountain • Market Well To give it just three of its names, was a revelation and was celebrated by the first well dressing in Buxton in 1840. The arrival of the ‘Cistern’ represented a shift in the wider understanding of public health and sanitation of the period. Filth and fever
What is a cistern?
The first outbreak of cholera was reported in 1831. The pandemic swept the country and by the end of 1832 thousands of deaths were recorded. Cholera in Derbyshire was an urban and rural problem.
The Buxton Cistern was filled with water, piped under natural gravitation, from Cold Springs. A cistern included public taps and a water keeper, paid by a committee, unlocked the tap at six o’clock each morning. Evidence of these tap holes can still be seen. The residents of the Market Place must have marvelled at the contrast between fresh spring water and the old Dog Leach Pond.
There were outbreaks of ‘typhus fever’ (typhoid) recorded on the Duke’s Chatsworth Estate at Beeley in 1831 and 1833. Typhus was transmitted via village ponds, which were used by animals. The Market Place was the centre of the old town, away from the boggy wet area near the Crescent which could get flooded. A straggle of dilapidated white cottages and small family farms and inns, ringed the Market Place. Drinking water was sourced from various public ponds like Dog Leach Pond, near the old Toll Bar (now Five Ways), until the Cistern opened in 1840. “The Buxton streets were a disgrace … Every winter there were complaints about the state of the streets, in which pigs were slaughtered and, during the summer, the stench from the Wye was dreadful, the drainage making it filthy and dangerous to health.” Robert Grundy Heape, Buxton under the Dukes of Devonshire.
The 6th Duke to the rescue Adam Bench has researched into the influence of the 6th Duke’s gardener and architect, Joseph Paxton. “Paxton and the 6th Duke had large-scale plans for Buxton including the layout of the Park and the modification of Jeffry Wyatt’s 1818 graduated walks at St Ann’s Cliff (the Slopes). Plans comprised terraced walks with their attendant seats and large urns.” During 1838-1839 Paxton and the Duke had toured Europe and these grand influences can be seen in the design and construction of the new Buxton which included the Cistern.
The importance of clean drinking water to this part of Buxton cannot be underestimated. At a time when cholera and typhoid were devastating all parts of the country the people of Buxton were encouraged to celebrate their good fortune.
An end to fist fighting and cock fighting A second important motivation for change was Buxton’s image in the wider world and has been researched by Chris Simpson. “The Dukes of Devonshire sponsored the Gold Cup at Buxton Race Course at Fairfield. Over the years concern grew about rowdy behaviour and a rise in illegal gambling, including fist fighting and cock fighting. The Buxton Races, that included the Gold Cup, were an important source of income for the town but the Duke decided to use the 100 guineas prize money for the Gold Cup to sponsor the Cistern on the Market Place. This was to promote a gentler image for the tourist resort. 100 guineas was spent bringing water to the Market Place and the town’s efforts were put into garlands. There were street parties all week and fierce competition for prizes for the best dressed streets.” The project’s completion in July 1840 was a major local event, reported in national newspapers
The importance of the well is clearly seen in this painting by Godfrey Sykes 1849 © Buxton Museum 6
Drinking Fountain or Well Head. Early C19. Weathered dressed stone. Bowl shaped urn with rolled top on stepped base, supported by square stone pedestal with cornice to top. The pedestal base has recessed panels on 3 sides; that to front is arched possibly originally with raised motif and date 1840. The rear is of coursed stone blocks.
The Cistern at risk The photograph shows the details of the design and was described when The Cistern was Grade II Listed on 10.12.1973.
Clean water for all An Act of Parliament in 1873 authorised the Buxton Local Board to construct waterworks and supply water. All water supplies came under their jurisdiction, “…together with the streams, springs, drains, pipes and appurtenances thereto belonging”. In 1887 Buxton Local Board became Buxton Urban District Council and later High Peak Borough Council. Improvements to the water supply continued. The new houses that replaced the dilapidated cottages had mains water designed by RR Duke. A cast iron drinking fountain was placed in the railings and the Cistern was redundant as no water came from Cold Springs Reservoir after 1907. The 1898 OS map uses the abbreviation ‘D.Fn’ which means a drinking fountain.
As a listed structure, like historic ‘mile-stones’ - ownership defaults to the Local Authority. The land on which the Cistern is located is owned by HPBC because they collect the parking fees for the carpark. After 2003 HPBC dismantled and stored the vase. The Cistern remains on Derbyshire’s ‘Building At Risk’ register. The Cistern became a listed structure. It remains an important symbol of our celebration of water and one of the important sites for the July Well Dressing Festival. The Cistern’s opening has been continually celebrated with the annual well dressing festival in Buxton. It has fallen into a poor state of repair with badly damaged stone work and complete loss of detailing. It remains of historical and cultural importance not only to Buxton but also Derbyshire, but if action is not taken, little will remain to be repaired. BCA and Buxton Well Dressing and Carnival Committee are working on plans to see the ‘Market Well’, ‘Market Place Fountain’ or the 'Eagle Parade Cistern’ take its part once again in the revival of our spa town. Please see our websites for more details.
For the Diamond Jubilee in 1901 you can only just glimpse the urn on top of the Market Place Fountain, surrounded by garlands on wooden structures.
The raised motif is the coiled serpent of the Cavendish family.
Pump Room An Interview with Luke Bates Manager of Buxton Visitor Centre words AlysonPhillips The beautifully restored Victorian Pump Room continues a water theme begun in 1894 when visitors first entered the building, designed by Henry Currey, to take the waters ladled to them by the ‘Well Women’.They were dressed up as nurses to reinforce the impression that this water had healing powers. Water from the St Ann’s Well outside is now pumped into the building to a new well, flowing at the same temperature. “Visitors are sometimes scared to taste it but then it is part of a trip to Buxton and it’s the best quality in England so they try it. Buxton’s famous thermal mineral water fell as rain 5000 years ago and then suddenly it speeds to the surface in just one and a half days and this rapidity enables it to retain a temperature of 28 degrees.” Today’s visitors can buy a souvenir bottle from £2 and fill it inside the building, safe in the knowledge that it is from the genuine source.This new well is also celebrated with a well dressing,inside the Pump Room,during the Buxton Festival. In The Pump Room, Buxton Heritage Trust is taking the theme of the town’s famous thermal water to new levels presenting a programme of events for the community and visitors under the watchful eye of Amy Sharrocks an award winning artist. Local artists and musicians have been invited to meet and share experiences and ideas thanks to funding from the Arts Council. 'Passage' is a light installation around the oval pool created by Charles Monkhouse. It is inspired by the life force and flow of the warm mineral water. The colour palette of 1,700 LED lights shows the transition of shades from cool to warm and is also inspired by Below Michela Griffith Above Right Luke Bates
the beautiful window above the pool featuring Aqua Arnemetia – The Goddess of the Grove. Photographer Michaela Griffith has recently exhibited her work which reflects her curiosity for the patterns of water in nature. Through experimentation she creates distinctive images that are so abstract they are often mistaken for paintings. Another interactive installation is the history bench. Stories are being recorded by visitors who talk and record their memories and add them to a list of living history. Luke would like many more local recollections. “That’s why we are still finding out all about this place-everyday,” admits Luke. "When the installations are not running historical images of the Pump Room are projected on the back wall with quotes from famous visitors. The space is hired for events including talks, singing, and salsa dancing. It is a great space for school educational visits. Students can experience talks from the ‘real’ Well Women with their ladles.“ ...And when it is quiet I can hear the sound of the water gently trickling in the old well. Visitors say its uniqueness inspires.There is a feeling of calm, walking back in time, giving yourself the chance to change mood. The beautiful colours of the stained glass give a subtle Victorian lighting that sets the history alive because of the bespoke quality and civic pride in this building. It cost £5000 at the time. That would be an investment in the town of £500,000 today.” I asked Luke how his job has changed from the Visitor Centre’s old premises in the Pavilion Gardens. “There are more questions now relating to the Crescent Heritage Trust and the imminent opening of the Crescent. When it opens inevitably there will be even more focus on the history of Buxton’s Famous Spa and no doubt the discovery of more new facts." Luke, originally from Cape Town South Africa, understands about drought, water is being rationed to 50 litres a day at the moment. He sees people filling up from the well who have travelled just for the water. “They like the purity. They fill up their containers, there are often queues and people bring little waggons to transport our water. Buxton’s Water – the journey continues.”
Up and coming events at the Pump Room Mark Langley Fine Art February 28th to March 13th Peak District Deli March Local Produce Fair March 13th to March 27th Pauline Townsend Leading Silk Painter March 27th to April 10th
Buxton Champagne The Water Cure
words Ali Quas-Cohen & Steve Phillips The Sacred Grove from the mists of time Eight of Buxton’s twenty six or so springs emerge at a warm 27°c. Steam once hovered mysteriously above these tepid springs and since the time of the Celts many would describe the waters as sacred. St Anne, the grandmother of Jesus, would give health from those waters to those who loved her most. The 15th Century - Buxton resembles Lourdes William Worcester noted in 1460 how the Buxton water was known to “make many miracles and make the infirm healthy”. The healing effect of the waters resulted in people leaving behind their redundant crutches and sticks in the chapel that once stood on the site of the Mineral Baths. The notion that Buxton might somehow resemble Catholic Lourdes was too much for Thomas Cromwell, Protector of the Faith, during the Reformation. His men destroyed the chapel and sealed the springs for the only time in their history. The 17th Century – Pure Buxton water is the answer A 17th century Duke, trodden on by a horse, found a cure from the waters where surgery and appliances had failed. An elderly lady found relief for her rheumatic knees but also the unexpected restoration of use to her hand which had been closed up for thirty years. The 18th Century - The new Buxton Spa cures the excesses of the rich
bathing, especially if remaining in the bath for five to fifteen minutes longer than prescribed. Overall the perils of taking a bath or drinking the water without strict adherence to trained medical supervision seemed extraordinary. Guidance to patients suggested that drinking of water should be ‘religiously’ avoided in the case of ‘hectic disorders’. How do you like your bath? Bathing was not simply about simple immersion but might include: douche, jet showers, vapour treatments, peat baths and massage. Many treatments were practised, often with rather alarming titles such as; needle baths, surge baths, electro-water baths, or carbonic acid baths. High levels of patient satisfaction recorded The reward for getting the treatment right is described as a ‘glow’, a pleasant, warming sensation usually lasting twelve to fourteen hours and increasing body temperature, the appetite and the spirits. When used appropriately, it was claimed that few patients left Buxton without being sensible of having received some benefits. Records through the 19th Century suggest 86% of patients were discharged as cured or much relieved. The 20th Century – and onwards to a resurgent future More recently former patients would return postcards to the Devonshire Hospital to confirm whether they now felt fully or partially recovered and it seems that most people certainly did. As scientists still struggle to prove how valuable water treatment is for a range of ailments, the high levels of reported recovery across the centuries, some seemingly miraculous, cannot be easily discarded.
Physicians have continued to investigate why Buxton water has been seen as a remedy for just about anything including - gout, rheumatism, sciatica, neuralgia, loss of nervous and muscular power, inflammation of the bowels and indeed a cure for the gluttony and excess of the wealthy. A study by a Dr Pearson in the 1780s investigated the water’s effects on vegetables and animals. A trout was put into the Gentleman’s Bath as part of the investigation. It died. The 19th Century - ‘Buxton Champagne’ involves both drinking and bathing A ‘cure’ typically lasted three weeks with only one to two hours a day devoted to bathing and drinking. Jointly this was the ‘Buxton Champagne’ but was it the bathing or drinking that made the difference? A typical prescription would be a third of a pint drunk twice at separate times before breakfast and the same between breakfast and lunch. A walk after drinking was recommended too. How hot is too hot? The Mineral Baths operated at the natural temperatures whilst the Hot Baths to the east of the Crescent were heated to 35°c. Improved comfort was offset, according to some experts, by diminished therapeutic value. Follow the prescription to avoid fatigue The morning was the best time for bathing, never on a full stomach and water was not to be drunk immediately before bathing. Exercise was to be taken before the bath. The duration was recommended to be no more than twenty minutes to promote stimulation of blood flow whilst avoiding fatigue or faintness. Two days in a row would be maximum bathing time. Even strong patients were reported to be in a state of exhaustion after daily
Tebbs bottle of Pure Buxton Water. As can be seen in Buxton Museum.
by Alan Roberts & David Roberts
Two Prisoner of War camps near Buxton 1917 - 1919
Winter Wander Places and Spaces Group words Lyn Noble
The plan was to take Solomon’s Temple by surprise and sneak up from the back via Fern Farm riding school… predictably muddy but hey-ho it’s Buxton. Hundreds of wood pigeons flocked over Hillside Plantation and cloud swirled low over Harpur Hill allowing tantalising glimpses of Hoffmann Quarry locally named after the Hoffmann kiln which was a well known landmark from 1872 to 1951. Further west Axe Edge gradually emerged; there’s nothing like a bit of low cloud to add drama and mystery to a familiar landscape. Bare winter trees revealed views through the woods reminding us that the slopes of Grin Wood consist of mound upon mound of ash from generations of lime burning. Fascinating to think that without the 18th Century industrial desolation there would be no woodland and no glades of spring flowers that thrive on the poor, ashy soil. Everything was interesting; bracket fungi, patterns in rotting timber, bird song, where does the Ring of Trees go?, insects, geology, lime burning, lead mining and why why did the moles burrow along the line of a wire fence? (any suggestions?) And significantly, no comparing of aches and pains! We joined the crowds on Grin Low after having met only one person on our “sneaky route” from the farm. But it was great to see so many people enjoying an invigorating day out and maybe one of them knew about moles… but we didn’t ask. And so, down through the wood to the five star cafe in the Visitor Centre. It had been a winter wander with friends and colleagues from BCA’s Places and Spaces Group, good company, looking, listening, enthusing, wondering and for some, exploring new bits of our own “back yard”. And all those things made the difference between a walk and a lovely experience. Where next?
Last year's BCA publication 'The Limestone Quarries of Buxton' by Alan Roberts and Frank Emerson raised the issue of prisoner of war camps that supplied labour to local quarries from 1917 - 1919. Since then, Alan and his son David, have been delving into a wide variety of sources for more information on this little known topic. Their efforts have now led to a further book - 'Breaking Stone' Two Prisoner of War camps near Buxton. Alan's searches have concentrated on the local issues - the size and locations of the camps at Peak Dale and Ladmanlow, their layout and the prisoners’ contribution to the work of the quarries. The closure of the camp created complications over whether or not the camp huts were suitable for local housing and makes the reader think about the quality of the housing stock in those days. The research for the book was helped by the 2018 heat wave which caused some of the layout of the Ladmanlow site to appear. Buxton Lime Firms lost about 500 men to the armed forces at the outbreak of war in 1914 and, desperate for workers, they looked to the prisoners as a source of labour but they did not arrive until April 1917. The Swiss Embassy in London had to inspect conditions at Peak Dale camp because of treaties linked to the use of prisoners. The inspector’s report on the visit gives an interesting insight into conditions there. Twenty one of the prisoners who died were buried in Burbage Church and Peak Dale Church. In 1960, following a period of reconciliation, the German Government purchased a block of land at Cannock Chase as a War Grave Cemetery. The bodies of German prisoners from across the country were reburied there. These prisoners were identified by name and army number so that their individual backgrounds could then be traced, as could their final resting place at Cannock Chase. Alan has kindly given talks about this important aspect of our local history for the Heritage Open Days and BCA Member’s Evenings.
The book is available in the Visitor's Centre, price £5.50.
Side Up words Alyson Phillips
Breakfast at The Café in the Cavern has become part of the weekend treat for many people. "...and no washing up,” says one happy caravanner who has made a trip to the café a regular part of a relaxing weekend away. A Full English, two bacon, two sausage, egg, mushrooms, beans and a slice of toast for £7.95 is a must. The vegetarian breakfast is popular too, with veggie sausages, two eggs, grilled tomatoes, beans and a slice of toast. The weekends are busy from 10am onwards so breakfast is over at noon, but it’s fine to have breakfast all day on weekdays. The staff at the café have noticed that breakfast ‘out’ has become a real trend. Visitors either reward themselves after they have built up an appetite with a walk in the Country Park or breakfast with us first ready for the challenge ahead! According to Paula (the Manager) the most popular breakfast is the bacon or sausage bap. A tasty treat on a chilly morning. Rachel now concentrates on baking, adding to the range of great homemade cakes whilst extending the vegan and gluten free options. All of which have made the café such a great destination for our regulars and visitors alike.
News From Our Groups Woodlands The woodland volunteers group continues to grow, meeting twice monthly to work alongside our woods manager Kevin. Mapping and surveying of the woods continues. Felling of diseased trees continues with contractors employed where required. Owing to the large number of diseased trees to be felled and removed, Kevin has applied for a Forestry Commission felling licence. Unfortunately, since his appointment in 2018, tree disease has been his priority and we are fortunate to have him on our staff. Trevor Donald is retiring as secretary. We thank Trevor and Diana for their devotion to the group and for all their work for BCA. Thanks for hosting our meetings and for all the coffee and biscuits. Charles Huff will be the new chair and Sarah Males will report to the BCA Board.
Membership and Community Our purpose is to raise awareness of BCA and its important role in the town. We are pleased with the increased membership and the way members are volunteering for projects and enthusiastically attending meetings. Help with events, writing and updating our publicity leaflets and our newsletter is always welcome. Please check social media for updates.
Biodiversity This is a new development for BCA with two meetings so far and 30 people actively concerned or engaged. There is great energy in the group with many new faces. The key issue, in the protection of biodiversity, is connecting the wildlife corridors and safeguarding these.
DISCO UN For B T C memb A ers
Gareth Stafford BCA member and regular dog walker enjoying his breakfast at the café.
Talks & Events March 19th at Poole's Cavern Centre 7.30pm
The Geology and Archaeology of the Torrs New Mills Speaker: Peter Webb
April 16th at Poole's Cavern Centre 7.30pm
The UK's Nuclear Waste Pile. Where should we stick it? Guide: Prof Richard Pattrick
May 21st at Poole's Cavern Centre 7.30pm
The Mines of the Peak District Guide: Byron Machin
Comma butterflies Photo Steve Orridge
Taking on an achievable goal is our challenge i.e. getting one corridor to work, to be valued, celebrated and protected. The group has selected the Lightwood Valley from moorland into the town centre. This involves a whole series of sites, e.g. hedges, small woods, a school and an older peoples’ residence, having different challenges for the promotion of biodiversity. We welcome Mark Cocker to the group. He aims to come back and visit Buxton as an active member.
Planning and Environment Buxton Future High Streets Fund A public consultation event was so oversubscribed that a further exhibition was quickly organised within the very tight timescale allowed. A potential government grant of £5- £8 million is to encourage developers to invest in the shopping centre. However retail is going through a seismic shift and decisions cannot be rushed. BCA has offered comments to the 20 points raised on the plan provided by the Consultants but there seems little time available to amend them. There are few proposals for the High Street itself and 90% of the project is based in the Springs Centre where footfall will be funnelled. 11
News From Our Groups Planning and Environment continued
wind and leaves. Tuesdays have been agreed as the gardening day for volunteers in spring and summer.
We have potentially one of the most beautiful townscapes in the country so why channel visitors through a 1980s shopping centre?
The Ring of Trees is being ‘proof walked’ to check out a revised booklet.
The access for people with limited mobility involves three separate lifts within the complex. What form of leisure facility is envisaged in the plan is it public or private? What impact does a new FE building have on an already endangered Derbyshire University Dome campus? Check our website for urgent updates and new dates for meetings. High Streets Heritage Action Zone – Historic England BCA is also involved with the HAZ Scheme to regenerate and restore the shop fronts on Spring Gardens.
Corporate Affairs including Manager’s Report
The work with the Street Trees Project aims to protect, plant and replace trees in our urban settings. Areas near the Town Hall, A6 roundabout, A515 gateway to the town and Fairfield Road are potential sites. Research into the historic mine workings around the area of the Cavendish Golf Course is ongoing for members of the group interested in the minerals that so much of Buxton is built upon. HPBC Climate Emergency Summit Jon White attended this interactive event for BCA. A range of views were expressed in small group discussions with the focus on what HPBC can do in the long and short term to encourage us to take steps to cut our carbon footprint.
2019 saw the total number of visitors to Poole’s Cavern at its highest ever – 54,000. The revenue from our shop and café and car parking were also higher. Santa’s Grotto was a great success with positive feedback from visitors revealing, for many, it was their first visit to Buxton.
Jon has some suggestions that we can think about in BCA:
The Reception area has been relocated so there will be fewer queues near the door and more space for our visitors to circulate at busy times. The café has been redecorated and continues to provide a welcoming and popular destination especially for local groups. We also said goodbye to Chris from the Cavern Guide Team. Chris is an experienced guide and popular with school groups.
Waste Have a meat free menu for a day/ days at the café; use local producers only; encourage composting; minimise packaging especially plastics and boycott palm oil products.
Places and Spaces More new faces have joined the group this year, which is great as we work to uncover the ‘grot spots’ town. Our list of vulnerable and ‘at risk’ sites is our ‘work in progress’. We look forward to make progress with: Broad Walk lighting; the removal of the redundant Water Street. car parking meter; repairs to Elmwood surgery wall; a wall at the Palace; damaged stone blocks on Spring Gardens; repairs to heritage lampposts; damage to a fence on A515 into Buxton; damaged, unsightly bins at the end of George Street near the Opera House.
Energy Use solar panels and or wind turbines on BCA land; electric vehicle charging points in the car park; purchase electricity from 100% renewable suppliers.
Transport More cycle racks; BCA replace present vehicle with electric. Commercial Select sustainability-aware partners. Domestic Review insulation…especially that draughty front door.
Management Team General Manger Alan Walker Woods Manager Kevin Thomson Communications Simon Fussell
Volunteer Directors Chair of Board & Biodiversity Peter Phillipson Secretary & Corporate Affairs Martin Wragg Treasurer Brian Shawcross Funding Lucy Marsden Planning & Enviroment Andy Banks Places & Spaces Jon White Community & Membership Mike Wilde Helen Haywood Newsletter Alyson Phillips Heritage Adam Bench Community Arts & Woodlands Sarah Males
Agricultural Promote biodiversity with tree planting using native species in our woodland. Jon found the summit an imaginative experience with the Council, refreshingly reaching out to work with the community. BCA can be at the heart of issues raised by climate change. Buxton Civic Association Poole’s Cavern Visitor Centre Green Lane Buxton SK17 9DH
The Sensory Garden will continue to be maintained and improved with an insect house and nesting sites for birds. Willow screening will provide protection from the
t 01298 26978
To volunteer for any of these groups please contact Simon Fussell. We would really enjoy reading your articles and seeing your photos about Buxton in our newsletter. Our next issue will be about Transport. Editor Alyson Phillips email@example.com
Registered Charity in England & Wales Reg. No. 258163
Design • Layout • Photography Bob Bohme