AN OVERVIEW FROM THE CHAIR.
Welcome to you all………
As you may be aware, Droitwich Spa Brine Baths where closed by B.M.I. healthcare in 2008. They cited health and safety as their reason for doing so in that the facility was suffering corrosion to many areas and was no longer fit for purpose.
Since they had defaulted on their terms and conditions of tenure they were penalised by Wychavon District Council in the sum of £200,000.
When this information came into the public arena, there was much anger and dismay in the town and many letters were posted in the local press. One of those letters called for S.A.L.T. (Save A Lido Today) to be reformed and act on the closure. I was a member of S.A.L.T. and as you all may know, we were successful, with much help from the townsfolk, in getting our lido re opened.
I contacted all of the ex- S.A.L.T. members. We called our first meeting and S.O.B.B.s was formed. I am pleased to say that we are now some 40 strong and hold regular, well attended meetings.
Our first move was to call for local support and a positive remit from the people of this historic town. A petition was drawn up and circulated. We quickly gained over 7,000 signatures and a firm wish that we must do all we can to restore and re-open our beloved Brine Baths. The petition was presented to W.D.C. and after several meetings they gave their support and a promise that the penalty monies would only be used in the furtherance of our cause.
In addition to that, W.D.C. formed a Task Force to look into the matter and seek public opinion. The overwhelming response was positive in that the Brine Baths must be saved.
Some 12 months later, much to our delight and surprise, B.M.I. made the statement that although they could not help financially, they would offer the facility to whoever would like to refurbish and run the Brine Baths. This, we believe, may have been in response to the public outcry.
Shortly after the statement was made we were contacted by a consultant working on behalf of a spa hotel chain who had expressed an interest in purchasing both the Chateau and Raven hotels which had been on the market for some time.
Their aim was to refurbish both hotels and use The Raven Hotel as bedstock for hospital patients and the general public wishing to use the brine waters healing and relaxing properties, as in days gone by.
They were fully aware that Droitwich history was built on salt production and the resultant use of its world renowned brine bathing facilities.
Many discussions and meetings followed, resulting in plans being drawn up for the refurbishment and indeed improvement of The Droitwich Spa Brine Baths.
This process covered some 2 years and became very protracted but we believed it would eventually result in what we and the townsfolk had been striving to achieve.
This did not come to pass. The Chateau and Raven hotels were purchased by another group whose main objective was to refurbish the Chateau only. The Raven was to be closed as a hotel and used as apartments, offices and a public house. They had no interest in investing in our Brine Baths. The Chateau was a huge commitment and also a very important part of our history. We wish them every success.
We therefore had to re-group and move on.
All through this process we were given support from a leading surgeon practicing at Droitwich Knee Clinic. He arranged for an independent consultancy firm to come to Droitwich Spa to give its opinion on the feasibility of re-opening the baths.
The lead of the firm came along with a structural/spa engineer. We talked the project through and then took them on a tour of the premises. They both agreed that the baths were absolutely unique to this country and further afield and should most certainly be resurrected. I was keen to ask the firms engineer what he thought the reason for closure was and after studying all of the baths plant, including its air management system, he concluded that with a good service and some replacement parts there was no reason, in his view, why they should not become operational again. The whole area would of course require a repaint and we should also consider including extra health and beauty facilities then, they both concluded, Droitwich Spa Brine Baths would be a viable proposition.
S.O.B.Bs set about the problem of funding this scheme but we quickly realised that with a relatively short lease remaining, attracting investors would be difficult.
We approached B.M.I. for a lease extension and a workable rental figure but after waiting months and making further requests, they failed to respond.
Our frustration built and we decided to call a meeting of all interested Droitwich groups. A conference was held in Council Chambers and chaired by our Mayor. The meeting was conducted in a very positive manner and all concerned agreed we should do all we could to retain this important part of our heritage. Unfortunately, prior to this conference, we learned that B.M.I. had completely gutted the brine baths plant and all that remained was the skeleton of the pool. As a result, the existing site had become unviable and we now need to look for a new build alternative.
This is where we are today.
Wychavon District Council is prepared to provide a suitable site based on a firm business plan along with the £200.000, on the same understanding. We have a local, well informed businessman showing a great interest in the project and he is currently in the process of constructing the plan. In addition we have learned of possible further investors waiting in the wings.
In the meantime S.O.B.Bs has originated a strong fundraising drive which, so far, has been well received.
We are determined that we shall continue until our goal is reached and with the full support of the people of this town we know, as in the case of the resurrection of our wonderful Lido, we will succeed.
If you would like to contribute to our cause or help in any way, please contact us at email@example.com or via this website.
William Moy…………….Chairman S.O.B.Bs.