Buxton Crescent’s vibrant visitor experience opens its doors to the public

Buxton’s brand new Crescent Visitor Experience has opened its doors - coinciding with the reopening of the town’s spa hotel following a 17-year restoration project.

Thursday, 29th October 2020, 7:06 am

The ‘boutique’ historical attraction - contained in nine rooms inside the new hotel - tells the story of Buxton mineral water.

Beautifully-lit interactive displays and exhibits throughout the experience show the history of the precious resource - from its 5,000-year journey through limestone rocks to its use as a cure for ills and up to the restoration and the present day.

Scott Russell, education development manager at Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust, said: “A lot of thought has gone into making this accessible and not getting bogged down in just historical information.”

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Scott Russell, the Trust's education development manager, at a timeline of the Crescent's history

Each room in the experience is dedicated to a specific aspect of the development of Buxton as a Georgian natural spa location - as was the ambition of the Duke of Devonshire when he had the Crescent built in the 1780s.

Though each exhibit gives a detailed history of the Crescent and its Georgian and Victorian visitors, imaginative, interactive displays bring it alive for young and old.

In one of the rooms Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust have created a huge touch-screen console which depicts a day in the life of an aristocratic lady visiting the town to take the mineral water.

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A light projection in the shocking treatment room - with restored treatment chair in the background

And a series of rooms in the hotel’s cellar - atmospherically and colourfully lit - show the kinds of illnesses people suffered and the bizarre cures they sought at the time.

Victorian characters are shown struggling with ailments such as, for example, the archaically-named ‘dropsy’ - or oedema as it is known today.

Each has a card which can be dropped into an interactive apothecary mixing bowl - which triggers an animated apothecarist on a display screen behind a counter with various cures on display.

Inside another cellar room films and photos show the kinds of treatments available through electric water shocking - with a restored chair used to administer the treatment found in Cavendish Hospital.

A film about the history of Buxton's mineral water

However, perhaps the most impressive feature in the collection is a room dedicated to a hair-raising virtual reality experience - complete with VR headset - showing a day in the life of a wealthy visitor to the Crescent.

Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust raised £600,000 to make the new attraction a reality with funding coming from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Derbyshire County Council, High Peak Borough Council, D2N2 and Historic England.

Trust chairman James Berresford said: “Thanks to considerable support from our funders the Crescent has been carefully restored and we have created an imaginative and innovative new visitor experience in this iconic building.

One of the rooms hosts a huge touch-screen console which depicts a day in the life of an aristocratic lady visiting the town to take the mineral water

“Funders and sponsors have been visiting us on socially-distanced visits for the past couple of weeks and their feedback has been terrific – I am very proud of what we have achieved and believe it will be a great asset for the area.”

Tickets for a bubble group of between one and six people are available online HERE or from The Buxton Visitor Centre in The Pump Room.

There is a discount for Derbyshire residents – for more information please email [email protected]

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

A display of cures and treatments in the Experience apothecary
A room is dedicated to a hair-raising virtual reality experience - complete with VR headset
The Pump Room reception - where visitors book in