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Friends Newsletter No. 84

May 2018

Friends are the recognised guardians of Malvern's water heritage (Malvern Gazette 1 March 2013 p.14). We are an independent voluntary group of Malvernologists which relentlessly promotes research and celebration of Malverns Worldwide and the Springs and Wells of the Malvern Hills.
Pump Room Frieze now lodged in Tenbury Museum. 
If you have read the February/March Teme Valley Times you will know that the Tenbury Pump Room frieze that was featured in our Newsletter 82 made front page news. Following communications with Tenbury Museum we arranged to present the museum with the metal frieze panel. As a result, David Patrick from the museum met Cora and Bruce in the Tourist Information Centre in Tenbury for the presentation. It was also attended by Lucy and Chris Dell from the Teme Valley Times who had initiated the interest with an earlier article about Tenbury architect James Cranston. 
The metal frieze, which pictures a floral design, was found in the builder's rubbish at the time of the Pump Rooms restoration. Based on the design, it was dated to the 1860s by a Friend of Malvern Springs and Wells. This raised the question, where was it originally located? The best guess so far is that it was sited around the bathroom that is featured on a tourism promotional board at the Pump Rooms. It is hoped that readers of the Teme Valley Times will possibly be able to be more specific and we await the results of the recent article and enquiry with great interest. 
In the pictures: (i) Lucy and Chris Dell whose article in the Teme Valley Times inspired the investigation into the frieze. (ii) The Bathroom where the frieze may well have formed part of the original décor. 
Mulberry Tree Secret
The Mulberry Tree project over the last few years has resulted in the descendant of the George Bernard Shaw mulberry tree being reinstated in Priory Park Malvern. These trees have always commanded an air of mystery and as the project continues with the rearing of mulberry trees for Malverns Worldwide we unearth revelations of the past. Did you know that silk worms depend on mulberry tree leaves for their healthy rearing and the production of the cocoons that are the raw material for silk? This was a secret that the ancient Chinese withheld from the world for hundreds of years. The Romans enjoyed the extensive use of silk for prestigious purposes but never could discover how the Chinese made it. The Silk Road across the lands north of the Mediterranean was one of the major historic trade routes as China capitalised on its skills with the manufacture of silk.  
Thousands of silk worms consuming mulberry tree leaves results in the production of worm saliva that in turn solidifies into a thread to make a cocoon. The cocoon is then boiled and silk produced. As a result, millions of silk worms are sacrificed in the production techniques that are now easily discovered. Once upon a time, a Chinese production worker faced pain of death if he revealed the trade secret. Now google tells all.
Malvern Hills Landmark Reopens
We often see misleading information, some is deliberate and some is unintentional. Even we drop the odd clanger. Whatever the reason, good or bad, there is no real alternative to the truth, properly presented. With this award we seek to set the record straight.
We were pleased to read in the Malvern Gazette of 9 February that the St Annís Well building is to re-open. This is after the Malvern Hills Trust (formerly the Conservators) has completed a programme of extensive repairs. This is a Grade II listed building and one of our iconic landmarks on the hills. According to the newspaper, the oldest part of the building dates from 1815. It became an important location for those wishing to take the waters in Victorian times. It contained the Foley Fountain enabling visitors to enjoy the natural spring water, noted for its purity, as well as experience an energising walk up from the town to reach the location. However, the Gazette editorial attributes the 1815 creation of the building to Lady Emily Foley after Dr Wilson declared that the spring water could provide health benefits. Unfortunately Dr Wilson of Malvern Water Cure fame was only 9 years old in 1815. And Lady Emily had yet to become as Foley. Perhaps they meant someone else. What do you think? 
In the picture St Ann's Well, once the site of Burrows Bottling Works. 

Malvern Water Cures - A weird incident at Hay Slad
Nearly twenty years ago a Friend (referred to as A.F), now in their early sixties, experienced a gradual but serious decline in health. Like many people nowadays, they researched the symptoms looking for a diagnosis and came to the conclusion that they were being insidiously poisoned by twenty-two mercury fillings. During the removal of two of the fillings, A.F absorbed the vapour released from the drilling and suffered some alarming reactions. A.F saw a private practitioner who advised a detoxification programme that resulted in A.F becoming chemically sensitive. In 2005, with the help of a world-renowned professor of allergy and immunologist, A.F then devised a personal detoxification programme. With Malvern having abundance of springs, A.F. started travelling from home in Twickenham to collect spring water from Hay Slad. Most people collect the water in plastic bottles but A.F uses glass bottles to minimise the ingestion of chemicals from petroleum products.
On 24th June 2017, A.F visited Hay Slad in a hired car registered to a business. What happened is written in their own words. 'I was aggressively confronted by a gentleman, who accused me of selling the water I was gathering whereby he took pictures of my vehicle and of me personally from very close to my face. He told me he worked for the local council and was going to report me. I tried to explain that I travelled from Twickenham and it was highly unlikely that I would be trying to sell water. He seemed to have a problem in that I was using glass bottles even though others were collecting far more than me in large plastic containers.  (I have to add that most people I meet are very friendly). I do believe that the gentleman who approached me did work for the local authority but in which capacity I don't know. He did show me his ID card but I was so taken aback that regretfully I didn't bother to absorb the details. He told me on two occasions that he felt that I was selling the water and subsequently after taking the photos told me that I would be reported and I would be hearing from someone soon; he did seem to feel he was an authority in the area. I didn't hear from the local authority.'
This incident throws up several questions. Firstly, who has the right to challenge anyone collecting spring water from the Malvern Hills? Secondly, is it an offence to sell water that has been collected from Malvern's springs? If so, in which Act of Parliament or bye-law is it written?

Paul Saunders, of Worcester Regulatory Service, which is responsible for testing the water, kindly helped to answer these questions. 'The Official you mention must have been bogus, as only I sample the water for regulatory purposes. You cannot just take spring water and sell it as such, without complying with The Natural Mineral Water Regulations relating to its purity and source. It can be used as an ingredient if it satisfies certain conditions relating to its wholesomeness.  To take lots of water would need an abstraction license provided by the Environment Agency Ė you would have to check with them regarding the quantity needed before a license is needed. An abstraction license has no link with water quality.'

What is crystal clear is that Malvern spring water continues to be used to alleviate certain medical conditions. In the picture: filling up at Hay Slad during a recent well decorating.
Springs in Jeopardy, now it's Hay Slad - what next?
In March, Hay Slad failed its bi-monthly (every two months) water quality testing. A notice advising collectors to boil the water before drinking was put up at the spout but shortly afterwards disappeared.  The spout at Chance's Pitch was closed down some years ago because the warning notice advising boiling prior to drinking was unadvisedly removed by a member/members of the public. In October 2014, Earl Beauchamp's Fountain was also found to have coliform contamination and was closed, never to reopen.  
Paul Saunders (Worcester Regulatory Service) reported that, 'Hayslad spout has produced consistently poor results and occasionally has faecal material in the water, presumably from animals.  All of the spouts which are used in Worcestershire are sampled, and most contain coliform bacteria, which mean that something is entering the supply to enable the bacteria to grow. It could be from any animal in the catchment area of the spring. We cannot tell from the testing.  More spouts have had boil water signs on them because the Regulations are a lot tighter. Presently we put up signs to warn people, but this may have to change in the long term.  The water has to be sampled under The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016. It is sampled quarterly.  
The springs that we test are the active ones that we know of in Malvern, Worcestershire that have public access - Hayslad, St Ann's Well, Holy Well, Malvhina, Lower Wyche (when running) and Court Road (when running). Lord Sandy's spout and the one in the Tank Quarry clock tower were cut off by the owners as a result of the poor quality of the water.  The next samples will be taken in May. The test results are published on the Worcester Regulatory Service website and updated after every round of sampling.' [For Lord Sandys Spout read Earl Beauchamp's.]
It is clear that faecal contamination, whether from dogs, horses, cattle, or sheep is putting the future of Malvern spring water in jeopardy. However, Hay Slad differs from all the other springs in one respect; an uninterrupted flow from the spout is guaranteed under the 1905 Malvern Water Act 26 (1). To close the spout would require a further Act but there may be alternative solutions to closure. But this does raise a serious consideration. Our springs and wells have been consumed for hundreds of years and acknowledged to provide health giving benefits. What has changed? Is it a preoccupation with pristine purity at the expense of practical usage of water that has flowed for millions of years without substantial change to its source environment?
In the picture above taken in April, the spring water source at the newly opened and restored St Ann's Well, with the dreaded notice indicating failure of recent bacteriological tests!

Malvern Jamaica Trip abandoned for Siberia 

As part of the Malverns Worldwide project our envoys were planning a trip to Malvern, Jamaica in February this year. All the bookings were completed and departure was planned from Gatwick Airport on the 23 February. Earlier in February the Foreign Office posted a new warning relating to tourists safety in Jamaica. This made reference to extensive gun crime, with tourists being the target of extreme violence and robbery. Drug dealing was apparently prolific and gang warfare played an important part in creating an unsafe atmosphere for visitors. Several areas in particular were the subject of curfews and so as a result we cancelled our plans. We were too late to secure a rebate for our fares but instead we experienced in the UK the worst weather week for many years with Siberian conditions in Worcestershire. As they say, you cannot win them all! The road sign, left, points to where we should have been!

Malvern Appreciation Day - South Africa.

Plans are now afoot for an informal visit to two Malverns in South Africa in the autumn. This will coincide with Malvern Appreciation Day, October 19th More details later. What will you be doing to celebrate the annual event?

Well Decorating in the Malvern Hills is due to take place over the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend. Look out for the creative treatment of 'Year of the Woman', this year's theme. More details in our next newsletter including who wins the Founders Award for the best dressed well.


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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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