THIS week, the team at Live Borders Museum & Gallery, Tweeddale Museum in Peebles, re-visit the history of the Peebles Hydro Hotel...

THE original Peebles Hydropathic Hotel was built in 1878-80 on the side of Venlaw Hill on the edge of Peebles.

It succeeded in attracting investment when Innerleithen, which had hoped to build a Hydropathic on the site of St Ronan’s Wells, had failed.

A sum of over £80,000 was required to create the Hydropathic.

After construction of the building was completed, the Peebles Hydro became a landmark in the town.

The first building, was described as a ‘handsome, palatial point of style, position and surroundings’.

This original building was destroyed by fire in 1905.

In the book, History of Peebles by Brown & Lawson, page 94 states: “In the same year, the skill and enthusiasm of Peebles Fire Brigade was tested to the full. The fire which destroyed the Hotel Hydropathic was apparently caused by an electrical fault started in the roof space.

“In consequence, the fire was almost out of control before the fire brigade was in attendance, although they turned out very quickly.

“In fighting the fire they were hampered by a lack of water-pressure, the sheer size of the Hydro building and the shortage of hoses which would have been

required for such a situation.

“Despite assistance from other brigades, the fire literally burned itself out. All this was duly minuted along with the thanks conveyed to Peebles Fire Brigade for their efforts. Within two years, the Hotel Hydro had been rebuilt albeit in a different architectural style. The present building is substantially the same as the one rebuilt and reopened in 1907.”

The replacement building was designed by James Miller, the architect of the Glasgow Exhibition of 1901. The Hydro Hotel soon established an identity for the town as a centre for visitors to the Scottish Borders.

It has outlived the other major factors – railways and textile mills – which contributed to the growth of Peebles in the 19th century.

During WWI, the Hydro was requisitioned as a Naval Hospital and in 1939 it was requisitioned once more and taken over by the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Military General Hospital, the main building provided 1,200 beds.

Following the war, the Peebles Hydro was re-opened and functioning again as a hotel once more by August 1946.