“Hydropathic”concentrates on the history of Craiglockhart. At the end of the 19th Century Craiglockhart was built as a Hydropathic centre for water therapies and healing of various illnesses. At the start of World War I the building was requisitioned and turned into a military hospital for the treatment of sick officers, more precisely those suffering from neurasthenia or shell shock.

The disorder was often violent where men lost control of their movements, shook and stammered incessantly, even lost their powers of speech and memory entirely and were continually plagued by horrific and violent nightmares.

The officers were encouraged to take the healing water therapies and the relaxation of the pool. They were slowly liberated from their torments and cured of their nervous disorders, ironically and tragically only to be sent back to the front line and in many cases to their deaths.

On 4th November 1918 leading his men across the Sambre Canal Wilfred Owen, poet and officer, died tragically in action. Siegfried Sassoon survived the war and went on to publish Owen’s work as a tribute to his colleague. Both Owen and Sassoon contributed their poetry to The Hydra during their time at Craiglockhart. The Hydra magazine was the hospital publication, developed and produced by the patients during the days of the military hospital.

The story of the patients during wartime is a horrific one and the outcome of their healing is tragically ironic. The pool became a tool of war where men wandered, tormented by nightmares and hallucinations, shocked and confused, unable to forget the flashes and blasts, the mud and the blood, the memories of mutilated and dead friends.

Sara Gadd 2002

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