Two weeks ago (it’s been half term for me!), the patients at Cavendish Hospital in Buxton and Newholme Hospital in Bakewell looked at the theme of Buxton itself. Buxton is a town in the high peak of Derbyshire which has been a spa town since Roman times, and is world-famous for its mineral water today. The town is full of beautiful buildings, dating from the eighteenth century to Edwardian times, including the exquisite Buxton Opera House, and the former Grand Stables, which became the Royal Hospital, one of the country’s leading centres for hydrotherapy. The central dome of the building was once the world’s largest unsupported dome, with a diameter of 44.2 metres! It’s now part of the University of Derby, also open to the public.
Here’s the poem that I wrote, weaving together the memories of the staff, patients and volunteers about Buxton:
It’s like pulling the plug out –
As the rain falls on the hills
And through the limestone
Show caves. But once you’ve
Been down one of them
You’ve been down them all.
Stalactites and stalagmites:
Wonders at Poole’s cavern.
A robber once used it as his den.
You can climb up Soloman’s Temple,
See the countryside for miles from here.
At St Ann’s well, the water is free.
But it’s now sold all around the world.
Bottled in Peakdale, owned by Nestle
The rain fell five thousand years ago.
The water gave Buxton life –
From the Royal Hospital’s dome
To the grand old crescent.
They all came here for a miracle cure –
From headaches to ingrowing toenails!
They all took the waters at the pump house.
The soothing sensation of the water –
Warm, with its coppery taste.
We would hold our conkers under the spring
To strengthen them. The crescent ballroom
Was the town’s library and registry office.
Things were more vibrant in our day.
The Beatles played in the Octagon.
We were there! Now it’s all craft fairs.
Wild and woolly weather. Fighting the snow,
The rain and wind, and the flow of the Wye.
It’s a very cold place, but there’s lots happening
And the welcome and the water is warm.