Droitwich Spa was referred to as ‘Saltwich’, according to Anglo-Saxon charters. It was changed to ‘Droitwich’ (‘droit’ means ‘right’ in French) in 1215, when the town was given its charter. ‘Spa’ was added in the 19th century, when the town’s spa facilities underwent development.
Droitwich Spa is located on huge deposits of salt, and salt has been extracted since ancient times. The brine springs flow from beds of pure rock salt 200ft below ground. The brine contains ten times more salt than standard seawater – rivalled only by the Dead Sea.
The town’s development into a spa town is largely through John Corbett, an MP and wealthy industrialist and philanthropist. He harnessed the modern methods of production instigated by the Industrial Revolution, and began building the Salt Works in 1854. They became the most successful in Europe, and he poured profits into regenerating Droitwich Spa.
By the end of his life in 1901 it was estimated that he owned or part-owned almost half the town.
Nowadays, visitors can go to Droitwich Spa Lido, one of the UK’s few remaining open-air saltwater swimming pools.
Read more about spa towns in our feature here.