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Friends Newsletter No. 55

December 2013

Friends are the guardians of Malvern's water heritage (Malvern Gazette 1 March 2013 p.14). We are an independent voluntary group who relentlessly promote research, conservation and celebration of the Springs, Spouts, Fountains and Holy Wells of the Malvern Hills and of Great Malvern as a Spa Town.
Schweppes Malvern Water Fountain
This 29 foot high fountain was the iconic centrepiece of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851. Opened by Queen Victoria in May of that year, the Exhibition was an international event comparable to the recent London Olympics in grandeur. Made from 4 tons of high quality crystal glass, the fountain symbolised the stunning magnificence of 19th century technology and industry demonstrating how it enhanced the lives of everyone. It was adopted by Schweppes as their trade mark and Schweppes Malvern Water was launched at the Great Exhibition.
The Crystal Palace, in which the exhibition was held, was subsequently relocated to Sydenham, South London where it stood atop Westow Hill surrounded by gardens, fountains and even a dinosaur theme park. The Schweppes fountain was relocated to the new site and for many years was a key attraction to the millions of people who visited. A fire in 1936 destroyed the palace and the fountain. Since then the site has remained a public open space and many of the original features survive. It was with great interest that in October 2013 we learnt that a Chinese developer was planning to fund the restoration of the Crystal Palace building and grounds at a cost of half a billion pounds.
The hoped for opening date is 2018. To find out more and perhaps get involved in our interest group go to www.wandlewaters.com and click on number 8 at the foot of the page. Do let us have your thoughts.
The Dog Well is below Priory Park Malvern but where is the Cat Well?
You will have heard of the Dog Well, later renamed by the Victorians the Chalybeate Well but now the search is on for the Cat Well. A Friends writes: This is going to sound very odd....we have a cat Poppy that refuses to drink tap water (we live in Powick), so we tend to collect rain water for her. However, during the Summer there wasn't enough rain, so we went looking for some spring water. We found some just to the west of Wyche Cutting on the West Malvern Road. It was a very pretty spout set into a wall tended with flowers. However, on my last visit there were some building works taking place.
Can you help? The writer wondered if any readers could recommend a Cat Well for Poppy, the cat who can only dream of Malvern Waters in the picture above after building works disrupted her favourite supply.
Croydon Council thwarts an act of vandalism when a fountain was removed.
We have all been aware recently of the disaster that occurred when the Gothic Well was obliterated from the wall where it fronted the Wells Road.  We have covered this story in two previous newsletters (52 and 54).  A similar situation occurred in Croydon. The fountain in question originally celebrated Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. It was the idea of Algernon C.P Coote, of Lancaster Road, in 1887, and £42 was publicly subscribed. It was removed from its site on South Norwood Hill about 10 years ago when the wall in which it was located was demolished to create car parking space. Local historian John Hickman described this as an act of vandalism and campaigned with others for its reinstatement. The fountain was eventually discovered in the Council depot at Purley in three pieces, albeit as originally made and not broken as some claim.
A developer moved in and has subsequently developed the site, his planning consent being conditional on reinstalling the fountain. But because the fountain was supposedly broken in three pieces, the developer argued that he could not reinstate it. Croydon Council have formally rejected this premise and insist that the terms of the original planning permission should be complied with. Eureka - the people of South Norwood now await the reinstatement of the antique font with fingers crossed no doubt. Photo. right: the fountain by Mick Hutson in its original location supplied with project details by John Hickman.
The question that we ask is why do some people go to such lengths to destroy a feature that not only is a unique historic artefact but also enhances their building works and property? 
Coca-Cola First-ever Bottling Works
Quite by chance we discovered where Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1894. As the organisation has been instrumental in preserving much of our Malvern springs heritage we investigated further. Apparently in the summer of  ’94, Joseph Biedenharn of Vicksberg, Mississippi, United States took the already popular fountain beverage and put it into 10 ounce stoppered bottles. The bottling was a side line to his candy and confectionery business but was to impact worldwide. The first ever bottling took place on his shop premises which survives to this day.  The bottles were crated upside-down to reduce the possibility of the seal breaking and delivered by dray locally in cases of four dozen. Some of the original plant line is preserved in the premises. In the pictures you see Bruce standing outside this first ever Coca-Cola bottling works and an artist's impression of what the plant line looked like.
Saving our Springs and Wells from Vandalism
Four years ago we started work with the Civic Society to prepare a register of sites that needed protecting by listing. The loss of the Gothic Well has prompted a relook at the register and fresh impetus into initiating the process of securing listing. We did it for the Tank House at Colwall and so now have greater experience in the process. What is interesting is how things have changed in four years.
The Gothic Well - has been demolished; Tank House, Colwall - is now Grade II listed; Hospital Fountain - has moved from the Landsdown Road hospital to the new hospital in Worcester Road;

Stone Bottle Fountain (Colwall), has been removed to the Three Counties Showground;  Grindrod's Fountain - is not now easily seen at the Music School of Malvern Boys' College but set in a wall in a private garden of a house belonging to Malvern College in College Road. It is now suggested that we add to the list of sites for protection Malvhina Fountain on Belle Vue Island and the Coach House Spout by the Coach House theatre to replace Gothic Well and the Tank House.
The planned list contains details of some 40 sites. Send us details of your thoughts on what sites should be formally protected.

Droitwich Salt Canal Celebration
Droitwich has since time immemorial been famous for its salt springs. This has led to it becoming a major salt industry centre as well as a world famous spa town. In August 2013 a celebration Droitwich Canal cruise was organised in conjunction with the Pamela May Trust and was attended by numerous Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells. The Barge Canal from the River Severn to Droitwich town was opened in 1771 to ease the passage of salt down the River Salwarpe. James Brindley was the engineer who modernised the ancient Salwarpe navigation, used since Roman times. The Junction Canal from Droitwich to the Worcester Birmingham Canal was a later addition, making a through route that opened in 1854. Both derelict waterways were formally closed in 1939 and by the 1970s were overgrown, filled and partially built over.
 In 1972 a group of enthusiasts got together and formed a Trust to restore the waterway. Nearly forty years later the canal was opened in 2011. Had it not been for the initial scheme prepared by the Trust to restore navigation the route would have disappeared under subsequent developments. The cruise was to celebrate the reopening and Bruce’s participation as a founder Director of the Droitwich Canals Trust in the 1970s. It was also a chance for Bruce to cruise the canal for the first time and celebrate his 70th birthday.
In the picture: While the men are sorting out the Lock at Ladywood Bruce has a quick flirt with some of the ladies on board. Left to right - Lucy Dell of Teme Valley Times, Denise Preston of Malvern Civic Society, Cora Weaver, Bruce Osborne and Gwyneth Poole, all Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells.
For more details of the canals go the www.malvernwaters.com and do a key word search for Droitwich.
Malvern Water at Buckingham Palace
West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin has ensured the presence of the world-famous Malvern water at Buckingham Palace after presenting four bottles to the Queen recently.  It is recorded that both the Queen and to the Duke of Edinburgh remember it fondly. Now bottled at Holywell, the water has been a favourite of royalty for many decades and it is pleasing to note that the tradition is being perpetuated.

Christmas Gift Special
Celebrated Springs of the Malvern Hills is the prefect Christmas present for Malvern Hills explorers. Now there is a chance to purchase a copy at the special Xmas discount price of £20.00, saving £5 on the normal retail price. To take advantage of this offer send a cheque payable to 'B E Osborne' to Bruce at the address at the end of this newsletter together with the name and address that you would like us to post the book to (UK only).
For more information on this magnificent book go to Cora's Malvern Bookshop by clicking on the green panel top left

Email: springs@thespas.co.uk (click here to send an email)

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Friendship - There is no charge made for joining Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells. Just let us have your email address and we will send our newsletters, which are usually two monthly. Please be aware that some email addresses block large circulation emails. Do feel free to participate in our activities by contacting us below.
Best wishes, Cora & Bruce
Bruce Osborne, Tower House, Tadworth, Surrey. KT20 5QY
Tel. 01737 213169   email
Cora Weaver, 4 Hall Green, Malvern, Worcs. WR14 3QX            
Tel. 01684 561215   email

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