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Friends Newsletter No. 61

September 2014

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.
The Historic St John's Well and Grotto
The Great British Grotto Grading scheme has enabled us to discover more about Davenham and St John's Well at Malvern Link. On the site of Davenham, the 1831 Foley estate map of Malvern shows a property known as Pomona Place. In the grounds was a notable spring of water identified by John Chambers in 1817 as St John's Well.
In April 1904 there was a serious fire at Davenham and thousands of pounds of damage were caused to the house with the whole of the north wing destroyed. At the same time as the rebuilding, extensive landscaping was carried out with the creation of a charming sunken water garden and grotto in the grounds. Charles Dyson-Perrins had James Pulham and Son of Broxbourne carry out the work. This famous landscape engineering company in 1909 then went on to carry out work at Charles Dyson-Perrins' Ardross Castle estate in Ross-shire, Scotland.
Explorers of St John's Well today will discover the remains of a late Victorian fernery and pools, together with a well-preserved tufa-coated tunnel that runs beneath the road, connecting the two parts of the estate. The water feature in the grounds of Davenham today, with its nearby underground grotto, are the last vestiges of the once celebrated St John's Well.
In the picture the grotto with its mystic pool (front left) with stalactites and stalagmites is still in good order in spite of the storage of debris. For those who get confused, stalactites hang down and stalagmites point upwards.
Gibraltar Stone Bottle in the previous Newsletter - a Friend comments
"The Gibraltar bottle intrigued me. I got as far as discovering that Bado is not an uncommon name, apparently, in Gibraltar, and that a Hector Bado has become a millionaire in Uruguay. You've probably got that far, anyway. But I see that several Bados are on Facebook, and at least one is interested in family history. I don't do Facebook - far too intrusive - but if you're cheeky enough, you might contact a family member or two, especially those still in Gibraltar, and hope that they're as interested in this fragment of Bado history as you are."
If you can add to this please let us know while we await replies from our resulting enquiries..
Schweppes Grotto at the Festival of Britain - did it celebrate 100 years of Schweppes Malvern Waters?
In the last newsletter we requested details of Schweppes' Grotto at the Festival of Britain in 1951. Diligent research by the Grotto Graders has resulted in details coming to light of this amazing structure, including the picture left.
It was constructed in Battersea Park to promote Schweppes at the Festival. Inspection of the souvenir tag that visitors to the Schweppes Grotto were given at the time shows the grotto depicted as a tower over two caves or grottoes and steps up the side for visitors. This endorses the identification of the photograph above of the Schweppes Grotto as a rocky mound with a tower atop. Close inspection of this picture also reveals a water cascade to the right of what appears to be a cave entry at ground level.
It is known that Schweppes had four caves in their grotto representing Air, Fire, Earth and Water. Visual, aromatic and sound effects enhanced the experience for visitors. The question arises however where was this grotto located? 
Inspection of the 1951 Festival Pleasure Gardens layout plan indicates the location of the grotto. Exploration of this area today reveals a substantial wooded crater surrounded by a bank about 10 feet high with an access path. Rocks border the paths in this area and may signify former use in a grotto that has now been removed. Also beneath the undergrowth a number of Pulhamite rocks exist, suggesting that an original rock work by Pulham's of Broxbourne, former landscape contractors, existed here. Perhaps Schweppes used the rocks bordering the paths to enhance any original rock grotto that Pulhams had constructed at this location? The complexity of the Schweppes Grotto suggests that a substantial new structure would have been required over and above what was already on the site. This was no doubt removed and the area cleared after the Festival of Britain. Our investigations continue,,,,
For more details of the grotto and grotto grading go to grotto.directory on the web.
Contaminated Springs
The debate about spring water contamination trundles on; however there may be light at the end of the tunnel for Daily Mail readers especially.  On the 2nd August the Daily Mail ran an article by Tessa Cunningham about kitchen hygiene and the dangers of contamination from slop buckets in the kitchen for recycling food waste. In it is mentioned a testing machine called a Speedy Breedy, designed by scientists from Cambridge. It can apparently detect contamination in a very short period of time (up to 24 hours) rather than the usual traditional laboratory testing which takes about 10 days. The machine can handle two samples at a time and the results are quickly transmitted to your computer. Results can be forthcoming within a couple of hours showing E.coli and salmonella.
Could this be the answer to a more rapid testing of Malvern Hills springs and wells for occasional contamination? There is a catch - the machine costs £3,500.00. To find out more go to www.speedybreedy.com where you will see its applications which include water testing.
Rose Bank Gardens Well
We reported in our Newsletter 59 the rediscovery of a lost well in Rosebank Gardens. Some landscaping and the addition of an iron hand pump have made the site an attractive feature. It made its debut in 2014 when it was decorated for the May Day Well Decorating celebrations. The formal unveiling was conducted on 31 July 2014 when Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Prof. Michael Clarke did the honours in a short ceremony as part of the Britain in Bloom contest.
Springs OR Wells? A Friend asks
In 705 the king of Wessex gave some land for building a new minster church. It lay beside a stream flowing from the nearby St Andrew's Well. In the minster gardens, springs have erupted at weak points in the ground since time immemorial, and continue to do so. Their source is rain water flowing from the east side of the Mendip Hills; there is more than enough to supply the whole city. The city is now known as Wells; did anyone ever suggest calling it Springs?
In the picture - Spring water was piped from a late medieval cistern into the market place and the overflow gushed down the filthy streets taking most of the noxious debris away. 
Mulberry Tree Ambassador arrives from Australia
In 2008 Friends of Malvern Springs & Wells initiated a project to reinstate Shaw's mulberry tree in Priory Park. He had planted it in 1936 but it blew down in 2000. In 1959 a cutting from his tree was been sent to Malvern a suburb of the City of Stonnington, Melbourne. After an extended diligent search the tree was located and reported thriving. At the time, in 2008, Di Foster, a Local History officer in the City of Stonnington, could see the magnificent Australian tree from her office window.  She immediately became involved in the project and helped to have cuttings taken from her tree and sent to our Malvern where they were reared in a number of secret locations.
On 25th July this ambassador for Malvern Melbourne flew into the UK where she met Cora Weaver and Bruce Osborne of Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells. The occasion was the Heart of England in Bloom annual competition judging of which Malvern, England was a finalist. The judges visited Priory Park to meet Di and to inspect the George Bernard Shaw Mulberry Tree replacement, recently planted and key to Malvern's entry to the contest.  The project has been brought to fruition with the help of Coca-Cola Enterprises, former bottlers of Malvern Water; Malvern Hills District Council; The City of Stonnington Council and many Friends who have participated so far.
In the picture taken in Priory Park left to right: Ron Evans, Council Parks Dept, Cora Weaver, Di Foster keeping a watchful eye on the Mulberry Tree, Tony Kiessenger, Council Parks Dept. with Elgar's spade to be used for the formal unveiling ceremony in 2016 and Bruce Osborne.
Owls Hole Pump and Engine
In recent Newsletters we have considered a new custodian for the Owls Hole Pump and Engine and John Clifford of Welland is, as a result, now in possession of these two Malvern treasures. John is planning a schedule of opportunities to demonstrate the machinery and has arranged to be present at the Three Counties Autumn Show this year. We also plan to be present part of the time and will be bringing a display board and perhaps a few books to sell. In the meantime put the dates in your diary - 27th and 28th September, and come and meet John and see the engine hopefully chugging away and driving the pump once more.
Jacob's Fountain on the move again
The Jacob's Fountain has been a controversial matter since it was removed from the old Winter Gardens and saved from the antique dealers van. Some think that its present siting within the Malvern Theatres is obscure, while we think its location by the cafeteria is acceptable, especially as it is indoors and highly visible from the outside through the window. We would like to have seen it refurbished with decorative lighting and the missing parts such as the plinth and urns reinstated. Others felt that a good clean was appropriate pending a removal to a more prominent position and the installation of a water supply. Cleaning was all that eventually took place to date. It remains something of a white elephant as a result. Now we learn that it is on the move once again. It is scheduled to be relocated at the Grange Road entrance to the theatres. This appears to be the prominent position that it deserves. However fears are expressed that it will get weathered and so a proposal for a glass screen is being considered. Perhaps there is hope at last for this Malvern treasure.
In the picture, the front of the theatre where the fountain will likely be re-sited.

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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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