Buxton is the highest market town in England at over 1000 foot above sea level, and located in the Peak District. Buxton still calls itself a Spa town. Its thermal springs were attractions in Roman times when Buxton was known as Aquae Arnemetiae. Mary, Queen of Scots, visited Buxton on several occasions, whilst being kept a prisoner, before her execution in 1587. She used the thermal waters to cure her rheumatism. Today the water can be bought bottled worldwide or collected free from St Ann's Well next to the pump room. The water comes from around 5,000 feet below.
The Pump Room was built in the late 19th century, although the crescent dates from between 1779 and 1789 built by the 5th Duke of Devonshire, to the design of John Carr, it is similar to the more famous Crescent in Bath. The Duke was attempting to establish Buxton as a fashionable Spa and a challenger to Bath. The Crescent was originally conceived as two purpose built hotels separated by six lodging houses, and over the years has boasted a mixture of coffee shops, card rooms and ground floor shops.
The Pump Room stopped being used as a Pump Room in the mid 1970s and became a Micrarium, where microscopic organisms and geological specimens could be studied by the public. This was the world's first Micrarium but this did not catch on and closed in 1995. It has been used for other uses since but as at August 2010 was no longer in use.
Buxton Pump Room around 1905 - Photochrome
Today you cannot see this view, the problem is that when people plant trees they grow, and now the grass mound is hidden by all the large trees.
As it is now (2010)
The original view was taken from the roof of the Crescent. This is currently being renovated.
The Pump Room has had windows put in and has been used as a building, but in August 2010 did not appear to be in use, and there are no signs to indicate its shortly to be renovated. Many other Spa towns make a big feature of their Pump Rooms and draw in tourists, so its surprising that Buxton has not done the same. It would not be difficult to trim the trees back, make the Crescent area pedestrianized or get some horse drawn pleasure carriages and make this a major feature.
Behind the Crescent is the large dome of what was originally a stable block to hold 110 horses, then it became the Devonshire Hospital and now is a part of a University. The unsupported dome is 145ft across and was the worlds largest until 1902. It's still the largest dome in the UK.
A view from the grass mound over the Pump Room to the crescent
On the top of the grass mound in the 1905 photo is a building, this is the Town Hall.
The spring water that was served in the Pump Room is still available and collected by many from the FREE spring next to it. The water always comes out of the ground at 28 degrees C. The source of the water is from behind the Eagle Parade and is piped to the well. Eagle Parade is at the top of the grass mound the other side of the Town Hall. This would have also have served the Pump Room.
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