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Spa Baths, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, May 2018

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HughieD

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1. The History
There’s quite a lot of history about the Spa baths. The history goes something like this (sourced and adapted from http://www.woodhallspa.org):

In 1821 John Parkinson, a land agent for Sir Joseph Banks of Revesby, sank a shaft in an attempt to find coal, undoubtedly encouraged by reports of coal being found earlier in 1831. Instead of finding the black stuff he hit a spring of salt water. The shaft was abandoned a year later in 1823. Three years later Parkinson was declared bankrupt. Meanwhile, however, the water overflowed into a stream where it cured the sick cattle who drank it. People then started to drink the water as a cure and initially bathed in an open wooden tank.

This provided the impetus for local landowner and squire Thomas Hotchkin, to build a brick bath and a windlass in around 1829. Its fame spread and in 1838 he built a proper bath house with eight bathing rooms and a hotel where all the latest treatments were available to visitors. The Spa's reputation spread and following the advice of Dr. Granville, a well-known authority on Spas, the bathing rooms were improved and the water analysed. The water was found to be unusual because is contained very high levels of iodine and bromine, thought to be beneficial in curing all ailments in 19th Century Britain. By 1849 the complex included a high class bath house and a hotel, the Woodhall Spa Iodine Hotel, later renamed the Victoria Hotel.

Hotchkin also laid out parkland with shrubbery and walks at a cost of £30,000. The complex continually expanded and in 1887 was bought by the "Syndicate", a group of businessmen who enlarged the Spa Baths and the Spa Hotel (later the Victoria Hotel) and laid out attractive wooded gardens and walks. The timbered roof of the pump room and the present frontage was designed by C. F. Davis for the Syndicate. Whilst mid-19th Century treatments were related to the benefits of drinking the water, or bathing in it, to relieve gout, there was a change towards rheumatic treatments in the 20th century. The water being used in pools because of the extra buoyancy it gave when patients' joints were exercised.

Plan of the baths:

41781067784_ce4015bd2a_z.jpgSpa Baths plan by HughieDW, on Flickr

Woodhall Spa’s heyday was from around 1890 to the First World War. After the First World War the Spa went into a decline; the Spa Baths closed for a time and was eventually bought by the Weigalls, who owned Petwood House, now a hotel. In the 1930s they set up the Spa Baths Trust to keep the Baths going before they left the area. Petwood House became a Hotel. The Spa Baths continued to supply treatment for rheumatism using the spa water and the water was still drunk locally, though not to the same extent as in the 19th Century. In the early 1960's an electric pump was fitted, replacing the steam engine from 1880.

Archive pictures from circa 1914:

28542004428_15e604a0a4_b.jpg20180528_202347 by HughieDW, on Flickr

27544892367_51a4b8bf6c_b.jpg20180528_201930 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Spa treatments began to go out of favour in the 1960s and by the 1980s there was declining interest from the National Health Service. The Spa well collapsed on the morning of the 23rd September, 1983. Within a few hours, the hole had opened and the outer wall gave way, leading to the partial collapse of the roof. Within a day the foundations of the large chimney, formally used for the steam boilers, were undermined. It crashed down into the hole, striking the side of the water tower, and taking much of the remaining outer buildings with it. The enlargement of the hole having then stopped, the remains of the surrounding damaged buildings, plus several tons of limestone, was then bulldozed into the hole. Unsurprisingly, this marked the end of the road for the Spa baths which then went into private ownership. The have now been left empty and in decline for 35 years.

Interior picture from the early 1920s:

41512880825_0df3aece0e_b.jpg20180528_201701 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Multi-million-pound plans to resurrect the historic baths by GN Construction in 2015 came to a grinding holt when concerns by locals were raised that vital woodland could be lost.

2. The Explore
Knowing I was heading to the delightful town of Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire I thought I’d have a look what was around this relative backwater. I then remembered two great reports on the Spa Baths by Mikeymutt and The Wombat from a couple of years ago. The Spa Baths are next to the delightful but very busy “Kinema in the woods”. Despite the exterior of the building with its pebbledash finish not really inspiring me, I soon found access to the baths. While the place is pretty far gone and empty, the decay proved quite photogenic and in the end it turned out to be a good little wander.

3. The Photos

The rather tired and uninspiring exterior:

42450141332_ddd2de4826_b.jpgimg7680 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42501971301_84c5b6ea89_b.jpgimg7677 by HughieDW, on Flickr

41599222785_f271a2dfed_b.jpgimg7673 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And that pebble-dash:

27631014877_0da159a470_b.jpgimg7675 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The most impressive room by far is the former pump room:

41597561705_f6d6acebeb_b.jpgimg7651 by HughieDW, on Flickr

27630197507_189b0e498f_b.jpgimg7662 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some more interiors:

27629887597_a3bb22388e_b.jpgimg7669 by HughieDW, on Flickr

28628221668_4eb92171bf_b.jpgimg7668 by HughieDW, on Flickr

41778562234_e9ba50d9f4_b.jpgimg7667 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42501222171_ec8508ff3e_b.jpgimg7665 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42449701792_9f333db7e4_b.jpgimg7658 by HughieDW, on Flickr

28627605568_17c9c4cfa5_b.jpgimg7655 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42500524041_9b38c8894d_b.jpgimg7654 by HughieDW, on Flickr

28627674698_fb475845bb_b.jpgimg7653 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42500568471_2b878e85f7_b.jpgimg7652 by HughieDW, on Flickr

There’s some great decay and peeling paint:

41598385745_af26105b1f_b.jpgimg7664 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42501281261_62944ff0df_b.jpgimg7663 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42449521612_4135e3cce9_b.jpgimg7661 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42449587942_422144b708_b.jpgimg7660 by HughieDW, on Flickr

41598596545_902abdd5ae_b.jpgimg7659 by HughieDW, on Flickr

28628686568_915bb21fc6_b.jpgimg7657 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some of the original pipework:

40692573020_8b1f662445_b.jpgimg7649 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The storage tank building and the site of the first baths:

41778077634_de802d719d_b.jpgimg7648 by HughieDW, on Flickr

42500994381_b7a3a67f59_b.jpgimg7671 by HughieDW, on Flickr

41778162524_0e5de7bc90_b.jpgimg7646 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

Mikeymutt

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Great stuff hughie.glad you got this bit of history done.i am shocked it's still open to be honest.some lovely colours there.glad you found the pool
 

HughieD

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Great stuff hughie.glad you got this bit of history done.i am shocked it's still open to be honest.some lovely colours there.glad you found the pool

Cheers Mikey. Nearly missed it. Wished I'd taken more of it but was in a bit of a rush as was off to see Solo in the cinema next door.

Nice pics mate good work

Cheers mate.
 

psykie

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I live in a village 10 minutes from here and every time I park my bike down there there's workmen about, at least one or two but after years nothing actually seems to happen down there.

Either they are working very very very slowly inside out or they have the best job in the world getting paid to look like they are doing something!
 
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