Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire, England. It has the highest elevation of any market town in England - and in the Strangers' World, a distinction of being the seat of Special Research Bureau, its offices and labs occupying a structure known as the Devonshire.
Built between 1780 and 1789, the original building was designed by John Carr of York for William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire. Octagonal in shape, it housed up to 110 horses and the servants of the guests of the Crescent Hotel, built in combination as part of the plan to promote Buxton as a spa town.
In 1859, the Buxton Bath Charity had persuaded the Duke of Devonshire to allow part of the building – by then accommodating nothing like the 110 horses for which it was designed – to be converted to a charity hospital for the use of the ‘sick poor’ coming in for treatment from the ‘Cottonopolis’ of Lancashire and Yorkshire. The Devonshire estate architect, Henry Currey, architect for St Thomas’s Hospital in London, converted two thirds of the building into a hospital.
In 1881, the Buxton Bath Charity trustees under their chairman Dr William Henry Robertson, persuaded William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire to give them the use of the whole building in exchange for providing new stables elsewhere in the town. Local architect Robert Rippon Duke was commissioned to design a 300-bed hospital to rival Bath and Harrogate for charity medical provision. The Cotton Districts Convalescent fund put up £25,000 for the conversion. The steel structure was clad in slate, and proposed to be supported by 22 curved steel arms. However, during construction the Tay Bridge disaster occurred on 28 December 1879, and so the number of arms was revised upwards. Railway engineer Mr Footner advised that the designers of the Tay Rail Bridge had not taken into account the stresses of lateral wind and storms.
Further changes were undertaken, with the clock tower and lodge completed in 1882, surgical wards in 1897, spa baths in 1913, and the dining room and kitchens in 1921. The building became known as the Devonshire Royal Hospital in 1934.
The Devonshire Royal was the last of the eight hydropathic hospitals in England to close when it closed in 2000.
Image 1 (1927): Britain From Above