OLD NANTWICH PICTURES (8)

Built for a bride

The Brine Baths Hotel - as seen in "Lost Houses around Nantwich"

BADDINGTON resident, Su Beech wanted to see and read more about the "hotel across the lake" and so wrote to me (see This and That page).

   Intrigued, I looked up Baddington in "Lost Houses around Nantwich" (Andrew Lamberton and Robin Grey) but only found reference to The Raven Inn - "only two houses away from Baddington Bank Farm in Census returns". Clearly that wasn't the hotel she meant. So I contacted her to find out more.

   She spoke of "a spa sort of affair" and mentioned The Hacienda. The penny dropped. The hotel she meant was the Brine Baths Hotel and "the lake" was Nantwich Lake in Shrewbridge Road.

   Demolished in 1959 (before Nantwich Lake was created), the Brine Baths Hotel stood on what is now the Brine Baths housing estate, accessed off Audlem Road at one end and Shrewbridge Road at the other. Strictly speaking, The Hacienda wasn't part of the estate, standing on the Shrewbridge Road periphery of the land until its demise.   

   In the book, "Lost Houses in Nantwich", extracts are quoted from "Brine Baths Hotel, Nantwich" by Derek Hughes. We learn that the area of land bounded by Audlem Road, Park Road, Shrewbridge Road and farmland was bought by Isaac Horton around 1790. The land was inherited by his daughter, Mary, who married Michael Bott, owner of Nantwich Mill from 1795. After his first wife died, in 1822, Michael remarried in 1828, had Shrewbridge Farm - part of the land - demolished, and had a white stone mansion - called Shrewbridge Hall - built for his new bride. The building was surrounded by parkland and gardens.

   Nantwich Salt Springs Hotel Ltd bought the mansion in 1883. They expanded it and it opened as the Brine Baths Hotel. It was patronised by residents, including members of the hunting fraternity during the season, and visitors enjoying hydrotherapy. It comprised "spacious dining and drawing rooms, a library, billiards room, eight private sitting rooms, numerous bedrooms (single and double)" - 54 actually - "and a well-appointed suite of brine and medicinal baths."

   The brine came from Salt Ley Meadow, part of the 120 acres of land surrounding the hotel.

   Towards the end of its days, during the Second World War, the hotel became an army base and then accommodation for W.A.A.F. personnel. It closed as a hotel in 1947 and became a convalescent home for miners a year later. It closed after four years and was put up for sale. When no buyer could be found, it was demolished in 1959.

   Nantwich Lake was constructed in the mid-1970s around the time of local government reorganisation in 1974 - the time when Nantwich Urban and Rural District Councils became part of Crewe and Nantwich Borough. I learned this from the widow of a man who was planning to sail a small (Mirror class?) dinghy on it. (Wouldn't that have been a nice sight? To have sails as part of the scene.) But her husband wasn't able to do so because, apparently, the lake finished up only half the size that the town's authority had planned it to be.

    I am not sure where the extra water would have gone as the lake is now bounded by the river, the salt meadows, Shrewbridge road and farm land. Perhaps it would have straddled the river. The site of the lake was an area of land described on an old map as "liable to flood".

   However, the hotel and the area of water were clearly not around at the same time. But no-one said that they were.

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