The Pump Room & St. Ann's Well

Directly opposite The Crescent lie the Pump Room and St. Ann's Well. The Pump Room was erected by a former Duke of Devonshire and presented by him to the town in 1894. It opened to the public in 1889 as a place where one could pay to partake of the unique thermal mineral water (available free from the well outside).

After it ceased use as a Pump Room in the mid 1970s it became home to the world's first Micrarium - the dream of Dr Stephen Carter, a researcher with ICI Pharmaceuticals. After taking early retirement, Dr Carter devoted his efforts towards making the Micrarium a reality, enlisting the help of his wife Janet and their three daughters.

Together they manufactured the 44 special microscopes that formed the heart of the Micrarium. The Micrarium, which first opened its doors in 1981, allowed the general public to study in close-up, microscopic organisms, plant life and geological specimens. It soon attracted an enthusiastic following and became a regular place to visit for school parties. The attraction was featured on television several times and in 1985 was judged Museum of the Year.

Sadly, Dr Carter died suddenly in 1987. His family carried on the tradition, but in 1995 the lease came to an end and the Micrarium closed.


The Pump Room currently hosts occasional Art and Craft Exhibitions but soon, we are promised, the first phase of restoration work will commence. This will see the Pump Room brought back to its former glory. Once completed it will be used to provide visitors and residents with the opportunity to find out more about the Crescent development as it progresses.

Eventually the Pump Room will become a relaxing place to stop for tea and coffee and once again visitors will be able to ‘take the waters’ as our Victorian ancestors did.

(above) The Pump Room ca. 1908. Note the open arches.
The elegant interior as it was in the early 1900s
You could drink as much spa water as you like, free of charge, at the public well. But if you preferred not to associate with the hoi polloi, you could sip it (for one penny a glass) in the genteel ambience of the Pump Room. By the time the photographer from Board's of Buxton took this interior shot the arches had been closed in. You may just be able to make out the 'Palm Court' musicians on the raised section at the far end of the room.
Open arches and horsepower gives way to...
...closed arches and motor-power!
A queue forms at the public well (far right), a site you can see just as easily today. The spire of the now demolished Congregational Church can be seen in the background.
The figures with the cart, near the lamp post, are probably collecting horse manure
In 1958, in an act of architectural vandalism, the twin cupola with their elegant flagpoles were removed. One can only suppose there wasn't enough money around in post-war Buxton to restore them.
Looking towards the Turner Memorial and the Grove Hotel. The Pump Room is on the right of this contemporary photograph.