Droitwich Spa (often abbreviated to Droitwich) is a town in northern
Worcestershire, England, on the River Salwarpe.
The town was called Salinae in Roman times, then later called
Wyche, derived from the Anglo Saxon
Hwicce kingdom, referred to as
"Saltwich" according to Anglo Saxon charters, with the Droit (meaning
"right") added when the town was given its charter on 1 August 1215 by
King John. The "Spa" was added in the 19th century when John
Corbett developed the town's spa facilities. The River Salwarpe
running through Droitwich is likely derived from Sal meaning "salt"
and weorp which means "to throw up" i.e. "the river which throws up
salt" which overflows from the salt brines.
Droitwich is within the
Wychavon area – the only Midlands area to be
in the Halifax 'Quality of Life Survey' of 2011. It was 6th
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.
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.
1.1 Salt and brine
1.2 Asylums and workhouses
2 Industry and commerce
3.3 Arts in the area
Droitwich Spa High School
Droitwich Spa High School and feeder establishments plus other
4 Places of worship
7 Notable residents
8 Twin towns
10 Further reading
11 External links
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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
Roman villa or corridor house some 44 yards (40 metres)
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 2014, new housing consent
was granted to large developments at Copcut (750 houses) and Yew Tree
Hill (765 houses) with a number of other in-fill developments
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 110 yards from the source stream.
Following specialist inspections at
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
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 6,912 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
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
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.
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
Franco-Irish wife in the French 'château' 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
Asylums and workhouses
Droitwich's first workhouse was set up on Holloway in 1688 and
were finally abolished in the 1920s.
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 (the forerunner of the British Medical Association) in
1844, records that Martin Ricketts, of Droitwich, was the Surgeon and
Sir Charles Hastings
Sir Charles Hastings from the
Worcester Infirmary was the Physician.
Industry and commerce
Droitwich transmitting station, Wychbold
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 1st 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
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.
3 mi (5 km) north-east of Droitwich is the central longwave
broadcasting facility for the UK, (
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.
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
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
Tesco Express on Primsland plus a new
Sainsbury's store and
petrol station and Marks & Spencer's store and petrol station
Banks in the town include NatWest, HSBC, Santander, Lloyds TSB,
Halifax and Barclays.
NatWest have announced the closure of their
Droitwich Branch on 8th June 2017.There are a number of estate
Until the late 1990s
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 18th 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.
Chateau Impney, near Droitwich.
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.
Arts in the area
Droitwich Spa is rich in artistic talent, with a lively theatre, many
skills active including musicians, singers, artists, sculptors,
authors and poets plus numerous crafts people. The Droitwich Arts
Network exists to advocate and champion the arts and crafts in
Droitwich Spa and to act as a collective voice for the arts. See the
The scope of the network includes visual arts, performing arts,
photography, media, written and crafts.
The network provides an opportunity to be involved in the various
events and projects that are planned in the town, and to take the
opportunity to display your work, etc.
Droitwich Spa High School
Droitwich Spa High School and feeder establishments plus other
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, St.
Joseph's (a Primary School feeding into Blessed Edward Oldcorne High
School, Worcester), Tibberton, Westlands—originally Boycott Farm
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).
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
Places of worship
St Peter's Church, Droitwich
There are six churches in Droitwich including the Anglican church of
St Andrew's, a Norman building where St Richard was probably
baptised. The church tower was demolished in the 1920s after
becoming dangerous due to land subsidence. 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. 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.
St Nicholas was built in
Victorian times near the railway station;
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.
There are also a number of other chapels including Methodist, Baptist
and a vibrant
Salvation Army hall.
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
Ju Jitsu and tennis.
Vines Park 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 cricket club in which they support four
Saturday teams and two on a Sunday.
Destinations from Droitwich Spa
Leominster, Llandrindod Wells
Studley, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick
Worcester, Malvern, Hereford
Worcester, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Bristol
Alcester, Evesham, Witney, Oxford
Thomas Rainsborough, a prominent figure in the English Civil War, and
was the leading spokesman for the
Levellers in the Putney Debates,
became MP for Droitwich in 1647.
European Tour golfer
John Corbett, "Salt King"
Ashley Giles –
England cricketer lives in Droitwich and in 2005 was
made an honorary citizen of the town
John Heminges, born in Droitwich in about 1566, was an actor in
William Shakespeare's company
Rik Mayall – actor and writer in The Comic Strip, The Young Ones,
Bottom and other TV programmes, lived in Droitwich when he was a child
Matt Neal, Touring Car champion lives in Droitwich.
St Richard, Bishop of Chichester, was born in Droitwich in 1197
Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrim Fathers, was born in the town in
Graham Oakey, professional footballer for
Coventry City in the 1970s
born in Droitwich in 1954
Cyril Harrison, professional cricketer who made 17 first-class cricket
appearances for the
Cricket Club in 1934 and
Charlie Green, singer known for his appearance on Britain's got talent
in 2008 and now touring with Jimmy Osmond
Dean Holdsworth, former professional footballer for Wimbledon
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in the United Kingdom
Droitwich Spa is twinned with:
Bad Ems, Germany
Voiron, France, (since 2010)
^ "History of Droitwich Spa" at droitwichspa.com Accessed 2017-05-31
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 February 2015.
Retrieved 8 February 2015.
^ "Can you help find 800-year-old Droitwich Town Charter?" at
droitwichstandard.co.uk Accessed 2017-05-31
^ Full text of "
Worcestershire place names" at archive.org Accessed
^ Name (Required): (2 January 2012). "Survey tracks quality of life".
Rsnonline.org.uk. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
^ "REAL DES RES IN HEART OF THE COUNTRY. – Free Online Library".
Thefreelibrary.com. 27 December 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
^ Max Sinclair – Freeman of Droitwich May 2014
& Local History Society Spring Newsletter Issue 45 p3
^ Salinae Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine., Pastscape
^ "Salt and the Domesday Salinae at Droitwich, AD 674–1690: A
Quantitative Analysis", Droitwich
Brine Springs and Archaeological
Worcestershire Archaeological Society (1994)
^ The workhouse: Droitwich,
Worcestershire at workhouses.org.uk
Worcester > About
calling" (comment by Max Sinclair, ref. 'Mr Humphreys... station
engineer'), 2005/10/21, at bbc.co.uk Accessed 2017-05-31
^ Matthew Dresch: "
NatWest branches to close in Malvern and Droitwich
Spa causing concern among residents" 5th December 2016, at
worcesternews.co.uk Accessed 2017-05-31
^ a b St Andrew's, Droitwich Archived 29 July 2009 at the Wayback
Machine.. Retrieved 8 February 2010
Dodderhill Parish Survey Project. Archived 3 March 2012 at the
Wayback Machine. Retrieved 8 February 2010
Droitwich Spa Parish, St Peter's Archived 28 July 2009 at the
Wayback Machine., Retrieved 8 February 2010
Droitwich Spa Parish,
St Nicholas Archived 29 July 2009 at the
Wayback Machine. Retrieved 8 February 2010
^ Sacred Heart, Droitwich. Archived 10 March 2007 at the Wayback
Machine. Retrieved 8 February 2010
^ "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 3 June 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
Voiron à l'heure anglaise" [Droitwich Spa, UK: Twin
town of Voiron].
Voiron Hôtel de Ville [
Voiron council] (in French).
Archived from the original on 4 September 2013. Retrieved 4 September
St Peter's Church, Droitwich (www.amazon.co.uk) –
Around Droitwich (Archive Photograph Series) –
Droitwich in Old Photographs – ISBN 0-86299-421-7
The Droitwich Discovery – ISBN 0-573-12146-X
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Droitwich Spa Town Council website
Settlements in the
Ashton under Hill
North and Middle Littleton
White Ladies Aston
Civil parishes in the