The Old Victorian Thermal Baths and The Petrifying Well

The Thermal Pool is fed with water at a constant 20 degrees celsius, from a spring believed to be around 2,000ft below ground. This water gushes out and through the pool at a phenomenal rate of 600,000 gallons a day – it is the equivalent of filling this old swimming pool 18 times a day.

This passage was built during the 1780s to carry the thermal water from its source to the bathing pool, which was occupied from 1786 until 1883.

The huge iron girders still span the pool from Victorian times, when people would travel great distances to come and bathe in the Thermal spring water as it was believed to have healing properties for rheumatic problems and digestive disorders. One chap actually made a business out of selling the water claiming it would restore hair loss!

The Victorians gave their obsession with their health and springs a name and it was the ‘Water Cure Treatment’.

Today the health-giving properties of the water are enjoyed by the famous collection of huge carp, some of which weigh over 30lbs and visitors are welcome to feed the fish with food obtained from the aquarium.

It is thought the history of the thermal baths dates back to 1786.

The Petrifying Well

This is one of Matlocks Bath’s famous thermal springs. The water is rich in minerals, particularly calcium from the local limestone. As the water evaporates it leaves a deposit of calcium carbonate. The heavily mineralised water is spraying on to the objects encrusting them with lime salts and turning them to stone,

In Victorian times, there were several wells in Matlock Bath and they were known as dripping wells. The ‘petrified’ objects, such as wigs, brooms, and bird’s nests were very much in demand and the local people sold them to curious visitors..

The Victorian Belief on Petrifying Wells

During the Victorian Era it was believed that petrifying wells was thought to be the work of magic and witchcraft. Victorians was fascinated by such sites and you see at other petrifying wells across the country like Mother Shiptons Cave they would often put clothing and hats in the well for them to turn to stone.

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