Getting immersed in the Droitwich briny – a volunteer viewpoint
Written by Catrin on 21/03/2021
When I was first asked about volunteering on the Droitwich brine baths project, in a noisy, crowded room at the start of 2020, I misheard and thought it was about Droitwich wine bars! I said yes and was soon corrected, but the interest remained. I can’t resist delving into the past….
Move forward to 2021 and, several lockdowns later, I was delighted to hear that there was a way forward to keep the original intentions of the project but adapted to be Covid-safe. As a resident of Malvern and a Midlander by birth, I confess that I had heard of the Droitwich Lido, and even bought Droitwich salt on the Worcester market, but knew nothing more. A few months later, I now have an image (indeed, many images!) in my head of the three main baths that existed in Droitwich, and some of the hotels, halls and parks that were all familiar to those taking their cure. It’s amazing how old photos, sketches, picture postcards, and a few grainy video images can start to give you a picture of spaces that have long since been demolished. In our training as part of the project, we were asked to conjure up our childhood home, to stand at the front door, to look around in our memory, and to think about what we could see, hear and smell. So evocative! Poised at the beginning of our oral history project, I can’t wait to guide those who knew the baths down their Memory Lane, and conjure up for us their memories of the baths, what was it like to go there, how did they feel about the place? All those extra but essential elements of what the baths were like, that a picture can never convey.
It’s interesting how groups form and develop, and very quickly we all seem to have found our particular niches. I’ve been using online catalogues and archives to look for ‘memory jogger’ images, as well as to learn for myself about Droitwich’s rich heritage. It’s always said that there is so much to be found on the Internet, you just need to know where to look, and each time I type in a search, I find new things…. It’s my very own treasure hunt! I’m looking forward to discovering lots more gems from the past.