Hydropathy or the “Cold Water Cure” was a form of alternative medicine that became popular in the 1800s.
According to Wikipedia, the thinking was that water invaded any cracks, wounds, or imperfections in the skin, which were filled with impure fluids, health was considered to be the natural state of the body, and filling these spaces with pure water, would flush the impurities out, which would rise to the surface of the skin, producing pus. The event of this pus emerging was called a crisis, and was achieved through a multitude of methods. These methods included techniques such as sweating, the plunging bath, the half bath, the head bath, the sitting bath, and the douche bath. All of these were ways to gently expose the patient to cold water in different ways.
Jonah Horner was baptised 11 Jun 1798 in Helmsley.
The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, Volume 24 from 1825 lists his medical graduation.
By 1834 Jonah Horner is listed as living in High Kilburn.
A couple of publications claim that Dr Horner ran a Spa at 86 Nymphenburgstrasse in Munich
“Hydropathy; or, The cold water cure as practised by Vincent Priessnitz, at Gräefenberg” published in 1842 gives a list of hydropathic establishment at that time, the entries for a Dr Horner in “Schäftlarn” and “86 Nymphenburgstrasse” are actually on two different rows.
There is a reference in a book called “Bayerische Landbötin” from 1838, when translated from German states “On the 27th of May the mineral bath Schäftlarn was opened” and “A thoroughly familiar physician, Professor and Medical Assessor, Dr Horner”
But is this the same Dr Horner ?
That fact its a Spa and mentions Priessnitz and the cold water cure would seem to link to them, but I don’t believe it’s the same person.
Firstly the German Dr Horner is called Franz not Jonah.
Extract from the commission reports on the cold water cures of V. Prießnitz to Gräfenberg. Horner, Franz. Munich. 1840.
Secondly in his first 1855 publication, our Dr Horner makes no mention of being in Germany or setting up a Spa, his first exposure to the water cure seems to have been his own treatment at Malvern, which would have to be after 1842.
The object of its publication was repeatedly suggested to the mind of the author during his residence of nearly three years at Malvern spent in occupation with the Water Cure
Dr Wilson introduced the Water Cure at Malvern from Groefenberg in 1842 other practitioners afterwards commenced at that.
Finally in 1834 Jonah Horner is listed as living in High Kilburn, on the 1851 Census still living in High Kilburn, also in the book “The Vale of Mowbray: a historical and topographical account of Thirsk and its neighbourhood” from 1859 it list Jonah Horner, M.D., now a resident physician in Thirsk, so all links seem to keep him very local.
During the second half of the 1850s Dr Horner produced three pamplets which can all be found freely online.
“INSTRUCTION TO THE INVALID THE NATURE OF THE WATER CURE” – Kilburn York September 1855
“ON HEALTH; WHAT PRESERVES, WHAT DESTROYS, AND WHAT RESTORES IT ” Thirsk, April, 1857.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF BATHING. ON THE USE OF SEA WATER & SEA AIR IN HYDROPATHIC TREATMENT OF DISEASE. 1859 BY JONAH HORNER, M.D. ED.
LICENTIATE OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS AND FELLOW OF THE ROYAL MEDICAL SOCIETY of EDINBURGH
PHYSICIAN TO THE REDCAR HYDROPATHIC ESTABLISHMENT.
The final pamphlet contains a letter written during summer 1858, so describes events that took place in 1857.
Last Autumn at Redcar I treated a certain number of patients Hydropathically with Sea instead of with fresh water.
Through the kindness of the gentlemen I had under water treatment at the Coatham New Baths in November last, I am enabled to state the facts now brought before you. I engaged the Coatham New Baths, adjoining Redcar, for the purpose. They are the property of Mr. John Thwaites, who has baths and bathing machines in full operation during the usual summer season. At this house I had a consultation room, where my esteemed patients were prescribed for every morning, also a very agreeable muster room, where we met and took our daily food together, duly under Hydropathic regulations. There were only two bedrooms in my possession consequently, only one of my patients and myself could sleep in the Establishment. The others had their sleeping rooms in the village of Coatham, whither they retired at bedtime to sleep. They were always ready, however, at early dawn for the Hydropathic manipulation of the excellent Bathman I very fortunately found in the owner of the Coatham New Baths.
The following events are from 1858 when the letter was written.
You will oblige me, Dear Sir, by making known that I am now practising the great Water Cure at Redcar. At present I am limited in the number of bedrooms for patients, but shall have more accommodation ere long. I can now have some ten water patients in spacious sleeping rooms, where they also take their treatment. There are plenty of lodgings to be procured in Redcar and Coatham, where I can have others under treatment as at my Establishment. It is really most favourably situated—facing the Sea, and having a delightful and ever varying prospect. The water patients in my Establishment have the firm and beautiful Sea beach just before them, where they can take exercise greatly calculated to benefit both mind and body.
So he is practising the Water Cure in Redcar in Summer 1858 with room for 10 people and the next year he seeks to expand his operation.
Newcastle Daily Chronicle – Friday 03 June 1859
REDCAR HYDROPATHIC ESTABLISHMENT. DR. HORNER begs to announce that he has taken suitable Premises REDCAR, which are now in course of preparation, and will soon be ready (or the Reception of Patients who are wishful to undergo that most efficient of all systems of treatment—THE WATER CURE. Particulars, with the Prospectus, will forwarded on application to Dr. Horner, Thirsk. Also preparing for the Press, and soon to be published Dr. Horner, a PAMPHLET the Advantages of combining Sea with Fresh Water the Hydropathic Treatment of Disease.
Newcastle Daily Chronicle – Friday 08 July 1859
REDCAR HYDROPATHIC ESTABLISHMENT. DR. HORNER begs to announce that his Hydropathic Establishment at Redcar will be ready for the reception of Patients on the 26th of July. Further particulars, with the Prospectus, will be forwarded on application letter, to Dr. Horner, Thirsk
But not everything goes to plan !
Newcastle Daily Chronicle – Thursday 21 July 1859
REDCAR HYDROPATHIC ESTABLISHMENT. THIS Establishment will NOT BE OPENED on the 26th instant, as advertised, on account of additional improvements required, Dr. Horner having determined that his Establishment shall posses all the appliances for successful Water Cure Treatment at this far-famed Watering Place. The time of Opening will be announced in future Advertisements.
I have not located the promised future advertisement of the actual opening time, but presumably later in 1859.
During 1863 Dr Horner branched out and was giving weekly sessions in Newcastle
Newcastle Daily Chronicle – Saturday 13 June 1863
J HORNER, Physician to the Redcar Hydropathic Establishment, may consulted every TUESDAY, from Twelve to Three o’clock, Baker’s (late Wilcke’s) Temperance Hotel, 46, Westgate Street, on the Water Treatment of all Diseases
Unfortunately the water cure doesn’t appear to cure everything and Dr Horner passed away in 1869.
Durham County Advertiser – Friday 28 May 1869
The funeral Mr Joshua Horner, M.D. of the Redcar Hydropathic Establishment, took place Peter’s Church. Redcar, on Monday last
When the establishment comes up for sale in 1869 we perhaps get the best description of the building.
York Herald – Saturday 06 November 1869
October, 1869. REDCAR HYDROPATHIC ESTABLISHMENT. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, by Mr. H. WATSON, on THURSDAY, November 18th, 1869, at the Royal Hotel, Redcar, at Three o’clock in the afternoon, subject to conditions to be then read, All the Valuable and Extensive Premises known as the REDCAR HYDROPATHIC ESTABLISHMENT, containing spacious Dining-room, Drawing-room, 8 other Sitting-rooms, 18 Bedrooms (all supplied with Sea Water), 4 Kitchens, Scullery, and other domestic offices ; also a Bath House attached, comprising altogether an area of 506 superficial square yards or thereabouts. The Premises are Leasehold for the residue of 99 years, from the 27 th day of March, 1850, at the annual rent of £4, and are offered for sale in consequence of the decease of the late owner, Jonah Horner, Esq., M.D., Edin., who practised here successfully for the last ten years The Properly commands an uninterrupted view of the sea and it materially enhanced in value by the erection of the Sea Wall and Promenade, which it adjoins. The above premises which are in every respect complete as a Hydropathic Establishment, are also admirably adapted for a Hotel or Boarding House, there being every requisite convenience for the accommodation of Visitors, and the former management of the Establishment has given it a prestige which will be most advantageous to the future owner. Immediate Possession can be given For further particulars and leave to View, apply to Mr J. H. WEBSTER, Bookseller, Redcar : the Auctioneer or to MR. LUKE THOMPSON Junr Solicitor, Middlesbrough.
A year after Dr Horner’s death a grave stone and portrait are unveiled.
Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 10/06/1870
A Tombstone, in memory of the late Dr. Horner, has just been placed over his grave in Redcar churchyard. The stone is recumbent, and bears a floriated cross along the whole length, and is placed on a raised slab. The inscription as follows:- In sure and certain Hope of the Resurrection to Eternal Life, Jonah Horner, M.D., May 20th, 1869, aged 70 years. The work has been executed by Mr. Thornton. Sculptor, Saltburn.
Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea Gazette 24/06/1870
DOCTOR HORNER (Late) – PORTRAIT
A large portrait of the late Dr. Horner has just been executed in crayons, by Mr. Hoggard, of Coatham, and the many friends of the late lamented doctor may be gratified by a side of the picture, which is at present exhibiting aid Mr. Webster’s window. We understand it is intended to be placed in the Hydropathic Establishment in which Dr. Horner spent the last 10 years of his life.
In 1871 adverts for the renovated Hydropathic Establishment run by R Poole appear in the press.
Leeds Mercury – Monday 26 June 1871
REDCARS HYDROPATHIC ESTABLISHMENT and BOARDING HOUSE (formerly Dr. Horners) Entirely renovated. and one of the most comfortable homes in the kingdom for invalids and others. Terms on application. —R. POOLE Proprietor.
In 1874 water is needed from Mr Poole’s salt water tanks.
Redcar and Saltburn News 11/06/1874
Where is the Water Cart ?
The fine weather of the last fortnight has caused a great influx of visitors into Redcar and Coatham, and many of them must have been nearly blinded by the showers of sand, which have rendered it impossible for any one to stir out during the day with any degree of comfort. The very natural question has been asked:- “Is there no water cart?” We suppose there is, for at the last monthly meeting of the Redcar Local Board of Health it was incidentally mentioned by the chairman that the surveyor had arranged with Mr. Poole of the Hydropathic establishment, to a supply of sea water from his tanks for the purpose of watering the streets, in the event of their being any scarcity of water this season for other purposes. If the water cart is out of repair it ought to be put into working order without delay, as the present state of things must cause serious loss to shopkeepers, especially butchers and those who deal in articles of a perishable nature. We trust the hint will be taken in the proper quarter.
Regular advertisements appear 1884 thru 1890 with Dr Day and Mrs Poole in charge.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – Monday 08 September 1884
REDCAR.— Hydropathic Establishment, face the sea, on the Esplanade. Most comfortable home. Terms from 35s – 42s. per week. Medical Attendant, Dr Day. Proprietress, Mrs Poole.
Bulmer’s Directory of 1890.
Redcar Hydropathic Establishment on the Esplanade facing the sea, established in 1858 by the late Jonah Horner, M.D.; Mrs. Poole, Proprietress.
By 1893 it’s claimed the establishment is still popular, but is up for sale and opens under new ownership of Mrs Smith of Stockton in 1894.
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Friday 12 May 1893
REDCAR Hydropathic Establishment, facing the sea; air pure and bracing. Terms from 30s per week.
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Tuesday 22 August 1893
The popular Redcar Hydropathic Establishment, which is crowded every season to overflowing, is to be sold by auction, affording an excellent opportunity for a profitable investment.
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Thursday 17 May 1894
REDCAR Hydropathic Establishment, under entirely New Management. Terms from 35s per week inclusive. Prospectus on application.
Public tastes are clearly changing and the new ownership in 1894 brings other changes such as organised entertainment and a café, its also often just known as the “Hydro” now.
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Monday 30 July 1894
At the Redcar Hydropathic Establishment. which was established in 1858 by Dr. Horner, a drawing-room entertainment of an interesting kind was given for the benefit of the visitors on Saturday evening by Mr Arthur Mills, a gentleman well-known as an entertainer at holiday resorts. This establishment is now under the management of Mrs Smith, a well-known Stockton lady, and the Misses Smith, and is being conducted under an entirely new system. All possible attention is given to the comfort and pleasure of the visitors to the hydro, as witness the new departure of Saturday evening. There are baths of various kinds, and ample accommodation for about 60 persons to reside, on the premises. The building was offered for sale in the early part of the present year, but there seems to be a possibility that with the high praise now being bestowed on the management the only hydropathic institution in this district will become as popular as similar places in other visiting centre
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Monday 22 October 1894
REDCAR Hydropathic Establishment, Under entirely New Management. Terms from 25s per week inclusive. Prospectus on application. Select Mikado Cafe now open from 10 am to 9 pm adjoining the Hydro.
In 1895 a ballroom is introduced.
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Friday 10 May 1895
REDCAR Hydro, charming seaside resort, climate warmer than many Southern parts: ball-room recently added ; terms from 25s weekly, 12s 6d week eds. Proprietoress, Mrs Smith
In 1896 billards and a recreation room appear, but also the return of Mrs Poole.
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Thursday 14 May 1896
REDCAR HYDRO. —Facing the Sea. REOPENING FOR WHITSUNTIDE. Billiards, New Recreation Room, Boating,. Terms from 30s per week. Proprietress— MRS POOLE
Leeds Mercury – Friday 05 June 1896
Mrs. Poole, who for over twenty years has conducted the Redcar Hydro, has resumed the proprietorship of the establishment.
However 1898 looks to have been a bad year for Redcar tourism.
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough – Tuesday 03 May 1898
a letter was read from Mr G. W. Poole, of the Redcar “Hydro.” stating that visitors who usually come to Redcar were hesitating this year because of the small-pox epidemic and suggesting that the Council might discuss some method of dispersing this unfortunate misconception.
Mrs Poole continues into the early 20th century, but by 1907 there looks to have been a change of owner to Currah.
Durham County Advertiser – Friday 28 June 1901
PURE SEA BREEZES. REDCAR HYDRO. Yorkshire Coast. Facing the Sea. The waves come within few yards the windows.—Apply, Mrs Poole.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – Saturday 06 July 1907
REDCAR HYDRO., waves near the windows; hydropathic baths terms Currah, Hydro.
I don’t have a date for this photo but the “Hydropathic” has been removed from the sign on the front and its called the “Redcar Hydro & Boarding Establishment” however “Hydropathic” seems to have been retained on the side.
The last advert I can find dates from 1930 and an aerial photograph of the side and rear from 1932.
Yorkshire Evening Post – Wednesday 28 May 1930
REDCAR. HYDRO . BOARD RESIDENCE. AS DAY. ALSO APARTMENTS.
I don’t have a date for its closure as accommodation, but by 1953 it had became ‘Oliver Whales’ Fun Palace (Fun City) as can be seen from this photograph showing damage from the North Sea flood of 1953.
By the 1960’s it had been demolished and now serves as a car park.
Finally I’ve also seen published claims that Dr Horner discovered the G-spot !
That was ‘Ernst Gräfenberg’ in the 20th century, so perhaps some confusion has arisen as the Hydropathic Establishment stood on “Graffenberg Street” which actually appears to have been named after the Gräfenberg Spa, founded by Vincent Priessnitz the original developer of the “Cold Water Cure”.