Llandrindod Wells

The Friends' visit to Llandrindod Wells was most enjoyable - with plenty of street entertainment and special events. It was a pleasure to walk around the spacious town and look at the handsome buildings although Llandrindod's raison d'etre has gone. The Spa Buildings and treatments were the heart of Victorian and Edwardian Llandrindod and even after the First World War continued to attract thousands of visitors. You came to the 'Wells' to take the waters, to bathe in the mud or saline baths and undergo numerous other treatments. In between these activities you indulged in tennis, bowls, boating, walking, fishing, croquet, golf and putting.

William Condry, writing in Exploring Wales, states, 'Ever since the 17th century people have been going to take the waters. The English wealthy flocked there in the 18th century and turned the place into a gambling and whoring hell'. The real development of the town took place in the mid 19th century with the coming of the railway. It then grew at an astonishing rate as taking the waters became a part of fashionable life. The railway ran through trains to destinations as far apart as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

An illustrated Guide Book to the 'Premier Spa of Wales', published in the late 1930's, reveals the full charm and delights of a visit. The town, it declares, 'having been built almost entirely in the last 60 years, is modern in its buildings, sanitation, illumination and general lay-out. Standing nearly 700 ft above sea level, on an extensive plateau, it is ideally suited for a health resort. The air is bracing and very clear, there being no industries. Rainfall 32.59 inches; total sunshine hours l,12l; average maximum temperature for the Summer months, 65 degrees F'.

And what prospective visitor could ignore these recommendations:

'The Duke of Windsor, when Prince of Wales, "Your Spa is in a lovely setting"…Dodo Watts, the pretty British Film Star, says "The ideal holiday spot. The Welsh mountain scenery is glorious. It's quite a gay place, and you needn't drink the waters if you don't want to!".

There were eight testimonials from leading physicians, including one from Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, the eminent surgeon, who said 'the amenities for the cure of disease are at least as good as any I have met with in any country abroad', and Col. W. Byam, O.B.E. (Harley Street), who declared 'Llandrindod Wells is far more suitable for patients returning from the tropics, than the warm relaxing climates of the South Coast Resorts'.

The Guide then deals with the Spa Treatments. The many springs providing mineral waters were found in two groups, at THE PUMP HOUSE and at THE PARK. At the Pump House Spa were saline and sulphur springs; at the Park Spa were lithia saline, radium sulphur, magnesium and chalybeate springs. 'THE SALINE SPRINGS are nearly isotonic, a very important and valuable characteristic. It enables them to be quickly absorbed, to circulate freely in the tissues, and to be rapidly excreted, carrying with them quantities of waste products and poisonous substances. They stimulate the appetite by cleansing the stomach, and in many cases have the action of a mild evacuate with a complete, but gentle wash out of the gastro-intestinal tract'.

The Guide continues ' THE SULPHUR WATERS, containing a considerable quantity of Sulphuretted Hydrogen, with a small amount of Sulphates, are markedly diuretic. The diuresis causes no irritation of bladder or kidney'. It finishes with a description of the THE CHALYBEATE WATERS which 'although the amount of iron is small, long experience has proved their value in anemia, general debility and convalescence'.

In case you were concerned that you did not have the right 'disease or morbid condition' to benefit from the waters, the Guide provided a long list (of somewhat baffling) conditions which could be cured: 'Toxaemias and their results dependent upon disordered Metabolism, or Sepsis, defective Oxidation represented by Gout and Gouty Glycosuria, Hyperpiesis, and early Arterio Sclerosis, Chronic Rheumatism, Fibrositis, Sciatica, Neuritis, Lumbago, and various forms of Arthritis and Obesity, chronic Dyspepsia, Catarrah, Colitis and Chronic Dysentery'. And we all have one of these conditions, don't we?

The following three extraordinary pages describe in detail the Baths and Treatments available, amounting to 21 in all. Some of them seem positively dangerous, in particular, THE TYRNAUER HOT AIR ELECTRICAL APPARATUS which had separate machines for treatment of legs, arms, spine, shoulder, knee and the whole body. 'Llandrindod Wells is the first Spa to introduce this treatment'.

The second half of the Guide Book is devoted to Llandrindod as a Pleasure and Sporting Resort. One of the most appealing attractions was the new open air Metropole Swimming Pool, 'the water is filtered, sterilized and aerated and maintained at a temperature of 70 deg F. The pool is open from 7.30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Costumes can be hired. There are facilities for Sun Bathing. The Hotel Orchestra plays regularly'. Llandrindod organised a Drama Festival from 3lst of August to 7th September - the largest in Wales at which all the premier English and Welsh Companies competed. There was also a modern luxury cinema where you could watch the 'Pick of the World's Pictures under ideal conditions of Comfort and Cleanliness'. The performances were continuous each evening from 5.30. If you did not wish to indulge in sporting activities, the you could hire a car and visit any of the 14 listed nearby places of 'Antiquarian and Historical Interest'.

The last section of the Guide is devoted to illustrations of many grand hotels but there are also adverts for small private hotels and lists of apartments. My own choice of hotel would be The Hotel Metropole and Hydro - 'A PALATIAL HOTEL with Private Suites of Rooms, Ballroom, Automatic lifts from Bedrooms to Spa Baths and the swimming pool FREE TO ALL HOTEL VISITORS. Telephone 2247.

Those were the days!

Edna Dale-Jones