I heard the name of this place and thought, “A water system? Perhaps a dam? An electric plant? What is this?” Well it turns out that I was wrong on all counts; the Crieff Hydro is a premier leisure resort in Perthshire.
Perhaps British ears hear “hydro” and automatically think “hydrotherapy”, but my American context didn’t quite get that. So now I’ve done a bit of research into hydrotherapy, and you might be interested in what I’ve discovered.
“Water cures” have been around since the Greeks and Romans, but began to be marketed in Europe in the 1800s as a cheap health program that could be done at home (the original term “hydropathy” is derived from the words for “water” and “home”). Before long, though, water resorts were being established and this medical practice became quite the tourist draw (Remember the allure of Bath in Jane Austen novels? Everyone wanted to “take the waters.”) Recreation rooms were set up, and spas began to be places where people socialized and promenaded as well as bathed and gulped down foul-tasting mineral waters.
The Crieff Hydro (or Crieff Hydropathic Establishment) was built in hydrotherapy’s heyday, in 1868. Thomas H. Meikle opened the doors of the Strathearn Hydropathic Establishment Company (catchy, eh?), which was probably modeled after another spa in Austria with treatments involving water, plenty of exercise, fresh mountain air, bathing in local streams, and wholesome country food.
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