7th January 2017
Here’s a Hydro How do you do
Well listeners, as you know we’ve got a bit of a ‘how do you do’ and a ‘state of things’ going on with the Health Hydro. It’s a ta ta that looks set to run and run so I’ve dedicated a category to it on this here blog as a repository for sharing various pieces of writing about the building.
So last week I wrote this post about the Health Hydro: https://swindonian.me/2016/12/29/swindon-health-hydro/ – it includes a link to the petition and to the Facebook Group ‘Save Swindon’s Heritage’: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1828692104039326/
But the main purpose of this post is to share 3 pieces of writing by other people. They’re all worth reading.
The first on is a really lovely write up of the Turkish bath facilities in the Hydro. Now I’m a chronic asthmatic and simply can’t deal with the humidity levels in either steam room or sauna. I have an optimum comfort zone and they don’t fit it! It’s written by Linda Kasmaty for her Swindon Open Studios blog spot and it’s a super description of the facilities with some great photos: http://swindonopenstudios.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/milton-road-washing-and-turkish-baths.html?spref=tw
Then we come to this post from Frances Bevan on her Swindon History Blogspot: http://swindonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/milton-road-baths.html?spref=tw This blog is a great potted history of the hydro and gives some idea of how forward thinking all of this was at the time:
‘Keeping up with the times, the Medical Fund committee installed both Turkish and Russian baths. The Turkish bath with dry air heated rooms, followed by a full body wash and massage was seen as being ‘of great value as a sanitary and cleansing agent.’ The Russian baths were a variation on this theme, a vapour bath created by the throwing of water on hot stones, followed by a massage that involved being hit with a besom made of birch twigs and leaves. In the battle against disease and premature death, anything was worth trying.’
Then rounding up this post is this offering from Chris Humphreys of the Swindon Advertiser. Again well worth a read and a good gallery of pictures.
The Health Hydro’s place at the heart of a healthcare revolution
‘… Indeed, when Nye Bevan, the architect of the NHS, was seeking inspiration for what such a service might look like, it was to Swindon his gaze was drawn.
“There it was,” he is said to have remarked. “A complete health service. All we had to do was expand it to embrace the whole country….’
But what did the Health Hydro mean to the community?
As Graham Carters said in a recent Facebook post:
‘I think it is important to stress that the Health Hydro is far more than baths.
That, alone, would be good reason to protect and keep them, especially as they are a rare example of Victorian baths, still in use in the building’s 125th year.
It was conceived as a cutting edge health centre, which is why it was a cradle of the NHS (but 101 years older), and even in recent times housed a wide range of health and wellbeing practitioners, before SBC began running it down.
Over the years it has also been a hospital for First World soldiers, and the boarded-over pool hosted dances and rollerskating events at which generations of young Swindon people met their partners. And much more besides. It’s a gem that has suffered from poor marketing for years.’