Or to be more precise ~~ The Oban Hydropathic Establishment and SanatoriumNow little more than a few walls and an air of what might have been the Hydro was a grandiose scheme started in the 1880s to cater for the ever indulgent wealthy victorians.
As the hydro in the name suggests this place was all about water treatments which the victorians were convinced was the cure for all ills.
Spas and water treatments (Externally and internally --- eeeewww) were in vogue at the time and this project was to have been the ultimate in luxury with turkish baths, seawater pools (to have been pumped up from Oban bay!), stables, golf course, concert hall, gardens, greenhouses and its own private gas works to provide heating and light.
There were even plans for a funicular railway from the town to transport the residents up the hill to the hotel. Couldn't have the poor souls getting fit and healthy doing any sort of exercise, especially something as mundane as walking, now could we?
The hotel occupied a site decribed by The Oban Times as "perhaps the best view in the country" and by 1882 the hotel had a roof on but Dr Orr, the schemes originator had massively under estimated the costs involved resulting in the original backers cutting their losses. (The original estimate was for £75,000 which was reduced, some say by smoke and mirrors, to £32,000.)
Sadly the place was left to fall into the ruin it is today. If ever a building in Oban deserved the name "folly" then this is certainly the winner.
The hydro is now frequented mainly by local dog walkers - and teenagers with other ideas - and offers not only views of the town and bay to the west but a panoramic aspect of the whole area.
Well worth the visit but not the easiest to find - you won't find it in any brochures or signposted anywhere.
How to get there?
On foot ~~ from Chalmers corner on George Street head up Argyll Street, to the left of the
Congregational Church start picking your way up the 324 steps of Jacobs Ladder.
By car ~~ from the top Corran Halls roundabout head north (signposted Crianlarich / Fort William),
200m up the hill turn right onto Deanery Brae (Between Strathnaver and Kings Knoll Hotel).
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