While browsing the 1815 map of the Tamworth Timehikes area, I came across the name Dosthill Spa, between the then village of Dosthill and Two Gates on a bend of the river Tame and next to Dosthill house.
1815 ordnance map with orange arrow pointing out Dosthill Spa
Many of the ´discoveries´ in the blog were made by such browsing and cross referencing. It´s amazing how new information keeps coming out of these historic maps , the ease and the increasing abundance of them online. This has resulted in an increasing backlog of places to write about. Originally I was going to try to weave routes around these places, as implied by the title ´timehikes´ but I haven´t figured out a way to put a route description with detailed descriptions of the places in one post, and then there´s my short attention span problem to contend with. Meanwhile I´ve connected a couple of routes on the googlemaps page, largely following public footpaths.
Dosthill Spa could be the perfect place for a well-earned rest for the Tamworth two, Abe and Ernst, away from guard dogs, shots, barwork, garden trespassing and more.
If the towel looks familiar it´s because it was stolen from Tamworth Holiday Inn.
Abe and Ernst are not the first to enjoy the waters of Dosthill spa. Back in 1816 there was a mention in The life of William Hutton F.A.S.S, 1816 accessible on google books of an excursion to the place with the words “With our friends, we made a party of pleasure to Dosthill Spa; held various conversations ; played at various games ; boated on the river.”
What is this place though and what makes it so special? There´s a clue in the Wells of Old Warwickshire by P.M and E.M Patchell written in the early 20th century in which it mentions a pair of springs one chalybeate and one strong brine, the old salt bath being between the footpath and river.
Wikipedia has a nice entryon Chalybeate. Apparently chalybeate(salts) were all the rage in times gone by with the accommodated classes and Tamworth timehikes had it´s very own example.
picture of chalybeate springs in Tunbridge Wells in the 17th century taken from the aforementioned wikipedia entry.
The wikipedia entry goes onto explain the reasons for it´s popularity with this great quote about the health benefits of Chalybeate baths taken from Dudley North´s physician in the 17th century which I repeat below
the colic, the melancholy, and the vapours; it made the lean fat, the fat lean; it killed flat worms in the belly, loosened the clammy humours of the body, and dried the over-moist brain.
Dosthill missed out a tourism slogan here, ” come to Dosthill Spa and dry your over-moist brain!!!
No use for a slogan though if the spa doesn´t currently exist? The place leads to all sorts of questions. What form did the spa have? what happened to it?
The above 1775 Yates map(from Staffordshire Pasttracks) on the left signals that the spa or ´bath´ as mentioned in the map goes back to at least the date of the map, how much further back? Was it associated with the building of the neighbouring 18th century Dosthill house. We do know that Dosthill house with it´s neighbouring curative waters was used a Spa hotel in the 19th century. In the 1899 ordnance map on the right it gets a mention as Chalybeate spa, but no idea if it was still a ´Spa hotel´
In the book Wells and springs of Warwickshire, Richardson, L, written in 1928 we can assume that the spa or ´salt baths´were no longer in use. Here´s the quote from the book below.
The old salt-bath is still in existence [between the footpath and River Tame west of Dosthill House], though much dilapidated, as is also a small reservoir into which ferruginous water oozes.
The spa placename appear on maps until shortly after WWII and then disappears, Whats the fate of the ´old salt bath´ Are there still physical remains of the baths next to the footpath? Maybe Dosthill Park Wildlife Group campaigning and working for bordering Dosthill park could shed light on its fate?
I don´t know about you but I´m all for bringing the spa back, there´s a lot of over-moist brains, clammy humoured people out there who could do with it!