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Topical Budget 268-2: Devonshire Hospital Buxton (1916)


Main image of Topical Budget 268-2: Devonshire Hospital Buxton (1916)
35mm, black and white, silent, 119 feet
Production CompanyTopical Film Company

Soldiers are treated at the Devonshire Hospital, Buxton, Derbyshire midway through WWI.

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Items one and two of this edition of Topical Budget are the follow up to an item in September 1916 showing the Duke of Devonshire opening the new thermal baths at his Buxton hospital (Topical Budget 264-2). By November, when these two items were filmed, soldiers were being treated here for a range of ailments such as rheumatism and sciatica.

The town of Buxton in Derbyshire had been associated with remedial treatment of such conditions since the Romans, who first exploited the mineral springs. A series of charity hospitals existed in the town to take advantage of this natural resource, until the Duke of Devonshire's impressive stable building was converted for use as a hospital in the 1850s. The impressive round building, with a glass dome large than that of St Paul's, was kitted out with the lastest themal bath equipment in 1916 and used to treat troops from the WWI battlefields.

As a newsreel, the film is basic reportage. We see soldiers being brought in to the treatment rooms in wheel chairs, lowered into individual baths and treated by male nurses with a variety of types of massaging water jets, presumably for the relief of muscle and joint pain in much the same way as is practised today. The individuals shown are all youngish and cheerful looking, so that presumably the intention was both to reassure the audience that 'our boys' were getting the best possible treatment using modern methods and equipment. The reality, however, may have been less cheery. Anecdotal evidence suggests that debilitating rheumatic disorders were rife, particularly among those who spent long periods in the trenches during winter or in the underground tunnels of the sappers, and it seems likely that there were many less pretty cases than are seen here.

Bryony Dixon

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Complete item (2:05)
Topical Budget 264-2: Duke of Devonshire Opens New Baths (1916)