Droitwich Spa

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Droitwich Spa
Droitwich Spa is located in Worcestershire
Droitwich Spa
Droitwich Spa
 Droitwich Spa shown within Worcestershire
Population 22,585 (2001)
OS grid reference SO895632
   – London  125m 
Civil parish Droitwich Spa
District Wychavon
Shire county Worcestershire
Region West Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DROITWICH
Postcode district WR9
Dialling code 01905
Police West Mercia
Fire Hereford and Worcester
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament Mid Worcestershire
List of places
UK
England
Worcestershire

Coordinates: 52°16′01″N 2°09′11″W / 52.267°N 2.153°W / 52.267; -2.153

Droitwich Spa (often abbreviated to Droitwich) is a town in northern Worcestershire, England, on the River Salwarpe.

Droitwich is within the Wychavon area - the only Midlands area to be in the Halifax 'Quality of Life Survey' of 2011.[1] It was 6th overall.[2]

On 4 November 2013 Droitwich Spa Town Council made Max Sinclair an honorary Freeman of the town in recognition of the major role he played in the restoration of Droitwich Canals.[3]

The town is situated on massive deposits of salt, and salt has been extracted there since ancient times. The natural Droitwich brine contains 2½ lbs. of salt per gallon - ten times stronger than sea water and rivalled only by the Dead Sea.

History[edit]

During the Roman era the settlement was known as Salinae and was located at the crossroads of several Roman roads. Railway construction in 1847 revealed Roman mosaic pavements, and later excavations unearthed a Roman villa or corridor house some 40 metres (130 ft) long.[4]

Droitwich Lunatic Asylum was established in 1791. Records at the Worcestershire County Record Office show its presence in 1837 to 1838. An advert in the Transactions of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, in 1844, records that Martin Ricketts, of Droitwich, was the Surgeon and Sir Charles Hastings from the Worcester Infirmary was the Physician.

Droitwich remained a fairly small town until the 1960s, when the population was still barely 7,000, but since then it has grown considerably from overspill from Birmingham with many housing estates being developed in the 1970s and '80s.

In July 2007, Droitwich was hit heavily by the UK-wide flooding caused by some of the heaviest rainfall in many years. The flooding was pictured in UK-wide news, having flooded the majority of the heavily subsided high street. Many shops in the high street remained closed almost a year later. The flooding crossed from the stream and canal in Vines Park, crossed Roman Way, and spilled across to the High Street some 100 metres from the source stream.

Following specialist inspections at Droitwich Spa Brine Baths on 12 December 2008, the facility was closed to allow further building investigations to take place and to avoid any potential hazard to the public or staff.

Salt and brine[edit]

Saltworkers by British sculptor John McKenna in the town centre.

Rock salt and brine was extracted by the Romans and this continued through to the Middle Ages. A salt tax was levied by the King until it was abolished in 1825. A local family named Wintour owned up to 25 salt evaporating pans in the area by the 1600s.

Brine rose naturally to the surface at three sites along the River Salwarpe within Vines Park in the centre of Droitwich. Unusually the brine was fully saturated with sodium chloride, and was extremely valuable because it was economic to boil, and the yield of salt was high. Because of its value the brine was divided into shares, one share comprising 6912 gallons which produced eight tons of salt annually in the set boiling period. When it rained, particularly in the winter when brine was not being boiled, the rain water which is less dense that saltwater, settled on top of the brine and was readily removed.

Originally brine for boiling was extracted with buckets lowered into the pits which were naturally replenished. Upwich, the deepest of the three pits at 30 feet, supplied most of the brine, while the pit at Netherwich was only 18 feet deep. The Middlewich pit, located between the two, was adversely affected by brine extraction at the other two pits and fell into disuse. Steynor in the 17th century discovered the pit and set up business for himself, but eventually due to the lack of brine he failed to compete with the town monopoly.

The underground brine reservoirs were only 200 feet deep and in 1725 bore-holes were sunk to the base of the pits, accessing brine in almost unlimited quantities and independent of the natural brine flow, and the monopoly ceased. With this production increased and pumps were used to draw brine, however, as a result parts of the town succumbed to subsidence.[5]

In the mid-19th century, Droitwich became famous as a Spa town. Unlike other places, the medicinal benefits were not derived from drinking the spa water, which is almost saturated brine, but from the muscular relief derived from swimming and floating in such a dense, concentrated salt solution, at the town's brine baths (first opened in 1830). The spa water at Droitwich is the warmest in the United Kingdom outside Bath, but it does not meet the most common definition of a hot spring as the water is below standard human body temperature.

The original Brine Baths have long since closed, but a new brine bath (part of the Droitwich Spa private hospital) opened to the public for relaxation and hydrotherapy. But this too was closed in December 2008 due to a dispute between the operator and Wychavon District Council over health and safety inspections.

The salt industry was industrialised and developed in the 19th century by John Corbett who built the nearby Chateau Impney for his French-Irish wife in the French 'chateau' style. He was responsible for the redevelopment of Droitwich as a Spa.

Opened in the 1930s was the town's lido, a large open-air swimming pool, which used diluted brine from beneath the town. After many years of closure it was reopened in 2006. See: Droitwich Spa Lido

Industry and commerce[edit]

Transport[edit]

Droitwich Spa High Street on St Richard's Day 2009

In 1714 the first Turnpike in Worcestershire was opened to Worcester. A commemorative plaque was unveiled by Lt. Col. Patrick Holcroft the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire in Victoria Square on 1 June 2014.

Collectively known as the Droitwich Canal, two canals met in the town centre. These are the Droitwich Barge Canal built by James Brindley in 1771 and the Droitwich Junction Canal built in 1854. The Junction canal linked Droitwich to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. The canals were abandoned in 1939 but a restoration program saw them re-opened in 2011.

The railway station, formerly on the Great Western Railway, is just outside the town centre with trains to Birmingham, Worcester, Kidderminster and Stourbridge.

Broadcasting[edit]

5 km (3 mi) north-east of Droitwich is the central longwave broadcasting facility for the UK, (Wychbold BBC transmitter), which is also used for transmissions in the medium wave range; see Droitwich transmitting station. It was sited near Droitwich because the huge block of underground salt provided a good ground earth and increased signal strength.[citation needed]

Retail[edit]

Droitwich shopping is mainly focused in the traditional town centre around Victoria Square, leading to the St Andrew's Square shopping centre and down to the original High Street, with its local pubs and an eclectic mix of traditional shops. Farmers' markets are also held regularly in Victoria Square.

In the central St Andrew's Square shopping precinct are several chain stores. On 14 July 2005, Waitrose opened a new supermarket in the grounds of the old covered market, directly behind the heavily-subsided High Street. Also, in early 2008, a new Aldi store opened on the small retail park by Roman Way while the new Parkridge Retail park was opened in late Autumn 2007 with two new stores, Carpetright and Land of Leather. There is now also a Horsatack Saddlery store on the same park, which was opened in 2009. The park already has DFS and Homebase stores. There is also a Spar on Oakland Avenue and a Tesco Express on Primsland.

Banks in the town include NatWest, HSBC, Santander, Lloyds TSB, Halifax and Barclays. There are a number of estate agents.

Amenities[edit]

Lido[edit]

Until the late 1990s Droitwich Spa Lido was open as a public open-air salt-water swimming pool. Following its closure various schemes were proposed, with significant legal and commercial arguments as to the viability of re-building and reopening this facility.

During Autumn of 2006, work started on renovating the lido and it was reopened on Monday 18 June 2007. The Lido Park remains a pleasant and popular space, with Droitwich Cricket Ground on its edge as well as a bandstand with regular performances.[citation needed]

Chateau Impney, near Droitwich.

Entertainment[edit]

The Norbury Theatre hosts regular shows year-round, including an annual pantomime, and also shows films. The Norbury has an active Youth Theatre for ages 12 to 18.

On the outskirts of the town is the famous Chateau Impney, built in the style of a traditional French chateau, which is now a hotel, restaurant and conference centre. In Droitwich, The Raven Hotel is a wattle and daub hotel that holds a central position within the town.

Most of the entertainment taking place throughout the year in the town can be found on the website www.droitwichspa.com, a portal for the town of Droitwich.

Droitwich Spa High School and Feeder establishments plus other schools[edit]

The Droitwich Spa pyramid of schools works on a three tier system, with one high school: (Droitwich Spa High School); two middle schools (Witton Middle School and Westacre Middle School); and nine first schools (Chawson, Cutnall Green, Hindlip, Ombersley, St. Peter's, [judged by OFSTED to be good with outstanding features], St. Joseph's (a Primary School feeding into Blessed Edward Oldcorne High School, Worcester), Tibberton, Westlands—originally Boycott Farm First School—and Wychbold First Schools). There is also the private Dodderhill School (formerly named Whitford Hall and Dodderhill), an independent school for girls from 3 to 16 years. (Some boys are present in the nursery school). Dodderhill School is highly rated.[6][7]

In November 2011, Droitwich Spa High School was judged to be 'inadequate' by OFSTED inspectors, who issued the school with an official notice to improve due to the school "performing significantly less well than in all the circumstances it could reasonably be expected to perform".[8] 'Inadequate' is the lowest OFSTED rating. See following reference for the school's official reply.[9] The school was visited by OFSTED again in 2012 and was deemed to no longer be 'Inadequate' due to good exam results and other measures put in place by the school.

In December 2011, Witton Middle School was judged to be 'satisfactory' (which is one level above inadequate/unsatisfactory and one level below good) by OFSTED inspectors.[10]

Droitwich children are also educated at schools outside the town including Worcester's Royal Grammar School, and The King's School, Hawford Lodge, The Grange, Bromsgrove School with others typically travelling to Birmingham, Kidderminster, Hagley and Stourbridge by rail.

Places of worship[edit]

St Peters Church, Droitwich

There are six churches in Droitwich including the Anglican church of St Andrew's, a Norman building where St Richard was probably baptized.[11] The church tower was demolished in the 1920s after becoming dangerous due to land subsidence.[11] St. Augustine's at Dodderhill, completed in 1220 and rebuilt in the 18th century on a hill, was the site of a former Roman fort and a later Anglo-Saxon church.[12] St Peter's, built on the site of a former Saxon church, has parts, including the chancel, that date from Norman times, and has a memorial to Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrim Fathers, who was born in the parish.[13]

St Nicholas was built in Victorian times near the railway station;[14] and the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart and St Catherine of Alexandria, on a building styled on the Roman basilica churches of Ravenna in Italy, has the feature of the interior walls being covered almost entirely of mosaic and marble designed by Gabriel Pippet.[15] There are also a number of other chapels including Methodist, Baptist and a vibrant Salvation Army Hall.

Sport[edit]

Droitwich leisure centre at Briar Mill has gym facilities, sports halls, a swimming pool and squash courts. There are also outside football and astroturf pitches with floodlighting. The centre also runs a squash league. Droitwich Archery Society, based at the Droitwich Rugby Football Ground, is a target archery club that was formed in 1967, and is affiliated to The Grand National Archery Society. Other local sports include boxing, football, judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Ju Jitsu and tennis.

Vinespark Bowling Club is a Green Bowling club situated by the canal in Vines park. Bowling also available in the Lido Park Droitwich Spa Pool League is headquartered at the Fox and Goose pub on westlands.

Droitwich Spa also has a successful cricket club in which they support four Saturday teams and two on a Sunday.

Location[edit]

Notable residents[edit]

Twin towns[edit]

Droitwich Spa is twinned with:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Name (Required): (2012-01-02). "Survey tracks quality of life". Rsnonline.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  2. ^ "REAL DES RES IN HEART OF THE COUNTRY. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. 2011-12-27. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  3. ^ Max Sinclair - Freeman of Droitwich May 2014 Worcestershire I.A. & Local History Society Spring Newsletter Issue 45 p3
  4. ^ Salinae, Pastscape
  5. ^ "Salt and the Domesday Salinae at Droitwich, AD 674-1690: A Quantitative Analysis", Droitwich Brine Springs and Archaeological Trust with Worcestershire Archaeological Society (1994)
  6. ^ "Dodderhill School". Independent Schools Inspectorate. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Whitford Hall and Dodderhill School". Worcestershire (LEAs). Department for Education. 2004. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Droitwich Spa High School and Sixth Form Centre". Ofsted. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  9. ^ http://www.droitwichstandard.co.uk/2011/12/14/story-Focusing-on-positives-of-a-poor-Ofsted-25146.html
  10. ^ "Witton Middle School". Ofsted. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  11. ^ a b St Andrew's, Droitwich. Retrieved 8 February 2010
  12. ^ Dodderhill Parish Survey Project. Retrieved 8 February 2010
  13. ^ Droitwich Spa Parish, St Peter's, Retrieved 8 February 2010
  14. ^ Droitwich Spa Parish, St Nicholas Retrieved 8 February 2010
  15. ^ Sacred Heart, Droitwich. Retrieved 8 February 2010
  16. ^ "45 ans de jumelage : Histoire de cités Le jumelage à Voiron" [45 years of twinning: The history of Voiron's twin towns]. Voiron Hôtel de Ville [Voiron council] (in French). Archived from the original on 2013-05-03. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  17. ^ "Droitwich Spa Voiron à l'heure anglaise" [Droitwich Spa, UK: Twin town of Voiron]. Voiron Hôtel de Ville [Voiron council] (in French). Retrieved 2013-09-04. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]