Report - - Spa Baths, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, May 2018 | Leisure Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Spa Baths, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, May 2018


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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:

Spa 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:

20180528_202347 by HughieDW, on Flickr

20180528_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:

20180528_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 a great report on the Spa Baths by @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 pebble-dash 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:

img7680 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7677 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7673 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And that pebble-dash:

img7675 by HughieDW, on Flickr

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

img7651 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7662 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some more interiors:

img7669 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7668 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7667 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7665 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7658 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7655 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7654 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7653 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7652 by HughieDW, on Flickr

There’s some great decay and peeling paint:

img7664 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7663 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7661 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7660 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7659 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7657 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some of the original pipework:

img7649 by HughieDW, on Flickr

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

img7648 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7671 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img7646 by HughieDW, on Flickr

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