Since 1983 Woodhall Spa has been a spa town without a spa.
Until now. The badly decayed buildings have recently been bought by local building firm GN Construction who will work with Worldwide spa developers Wheway Lifestyle International to reopen the baths, which from the 1890s until the first world war were a magnet for visitors from far and wide seeking treatment for ailments such as rheumatism.
This should be welcome news to the people of Woodhall Spa, and the scheme should transform the experience of visitors who already swell the population of our “inland resort” during the summer season.
District Councillor Craig Leyland, East Lindsey District Council’s portfolio holder for economic development, said he was beside himself with excitement at the news. “We have been waiting an awful long time for this to happen.The spa has been an eye-sore and a concern for residents.This is the heart of the village and it is not just good for Woodhall Spa, it is good for the district and the county.”
Lifestyle International’s Tanya Wheway commented: “I think it is great that we can take an area that has such a connection with the spa and bring it back to life. We will try to take the best of the old and combine it with the best of the new. We are keen to create something special that people will travel to experience.“
Project partner Geoff Cull said despite the state of the building, two years was a reasonable time frame to work with. He said the first job was to look at whether it was possible to reconnect the original water supply.
The history of the baths (and indeed the village itself) goes back to the early nineteenth century when, in 1821 John Parkinson, a land agent for Sir Joseph Banks of Revesby, sank a shaft to find coal, but instead hit a spring of salt water. The shaft was abandoned in 1822 and the story goes that when water overflowed and cured sick cattle, people too started to drink the water as a cure and bathed in an open wooden tank.
By about 1829 the local landowner and squire Thomas Hotchkin built a brick bath and a windlass. The word spread and in 1838 or 1839 he built a proper bath house with 6 treatment rooms and a hotel where all the latest treatments were available. Hotchkin also laid out parkland with shrubbery and walks and the spa was continually expanded until in 1887 it 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.