Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Built on the River Wye, Buxton has a long history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring which rises at a constant temperature of 28 ° C. The source of the spring is marked by St. Ann's Well opposite The Crescent near the town centre. Each summer the well is decorated according to the local tradition of well dressing.
Initially developed by the Romans around 78 AD, the settlement was known as Aquae Arnemetiae (or the spa of the goddess of the grove), although little evidence remains to be seen today. The town largely grew in importance in the late 18th century when it was developed by the Dukes of Devonshire, with a second resurgence a century later as the Victorians were drawn to the reputed healing properties of the waters.
Today the town's economy is still supported by the spring, as the water which is bottled and marketed by the Buxton Mineral Water Company. The other major economic activities are tourism and the quarrying of lime.
The Dukes of Devonshire have been closely involved with Buxton ever since 1780 when the 5th Duke used the profits from his copper mines to develop Buxton as a spa in the style of Bath. Their ancestor Bess of Hardwick had taken one of her four husbands, the earl of Shrewsbury, to "take the waters" at Buxton shortly after he became the jailer of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1569, and they took Mary there in 1573 – she called Buxton "La Fontagne de Bogsby".
The Crescent (1780-84) was modelled on Bath's Royal Crescent by John Carr along with the neighbouring Great Stables. In 1859 Henry Currey converted the stables into the Devonshire Royal Hospital. In the process he added what was the world's largest unsupported dome with a diameter of 47 m, beating the St Peter's Basilica (42 m) and the Pantheon of Rome (43 m). However, this record is now routinely beaten by space frame domes such as the Georgia Dome (256 m). The dome is now part of the University of Derby.
Other architects active in Buxton were Robert Rippon Duke and Frank Matcham , a famous theatrical architect who designed Buxton Opera House . He also designed two famous London theatres: the London Palladium and the London Coliseum. The Opera House was refurbished in 1979 and now hosts the annual Buxton International Festival of Music and Arts. Also of note is Joseph Paxton who designed Buxton railway station and the layout of the Park Road circular estate, perhaps he is more famous for the design of the Crystal Palace.
At 307 m above sea level, Buxton is the highest market town in England.
- Tim Brooke-Taylor – member of The Goodies
- Dave Lee Travis – former BBC Radio 1 DJ, better known as DLT.
- Vera Brittain – author of Testament of Youth and mother of Shirley Williams
- Bruno Langley – actor in Coronation Street.
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