An ambitious £5m project could restore one of the region’s most iconic buildings into a major new tourist attraction.
The Woodhall Spa Pump Room and Baths has been bought by a retired Lincolnshire businessman who wants to remain anonymous.
He has ‘teamed up’ with Woodhall Spa based developers GN Construction who are planning to restore the Spa to its former glory.
The project is being supported by East Lindsey District Council who are confident the restored baths could deliver a massive boost to the region’s economy.
The News can also reveal the baths could be part of an even grander scheme involving an extension to the neighbouring Kinema In The Woods and an on-going bid to restore the historic Harold Peto gardens at the Petwood Hotel.
Craig Leyland, Portfolio Holder for Economic Generation and a Woodhall Spa ward councillor for ELDC, described the baths project as ‘excellent news’.
He said: “This is a very positive first step towards getting the baths back into use and restored to its former glory.
“It’s excellent for Woodhall Spa and for the whole of East Lindsey.
“It’s something I have been very keen to see reinstated and I’ve worked closely with a lot of people to make something happen.
“We have been waiting on this for 40 years.
“In its heyday, the baths attracted hundreds of people. It brought people up from London. LNER had special breaks and weekends which were advertised nationally on posters.
“It’s going to be a little while before we see anything.
“The whole thing has got to go through planning and there are lots of issues to get around, like access and parking.
“But GN Construction has a very good record locally in terms of doing sympathetic work which fits in ideally with Woodhall Spa.
“This, if you like, is like the missing piece in the jigsaw.
“There are a number of hurdles to overcome yet - not least in regard to planning.
“It is a considerable investment. We’re talking between four and five million pounds.”
Coun Leyland went on to confirm the baths could form part of a bigger plan for Woodhall Spa.
He added: “Everything you see in this area is connected. The Petwood is an attraction in its own right.
“The Kinema in the Woods is very well known locally and nationally. They are looking to expand. There is a big plan here.”
The actual water for the spa was discovered accidentally in 1821 by John Parkinson who was digging for coal.
The water was found to have ‘therapeutic qualities’ and nine years later, Thomas Hotchkin erected the first Pump Room and Baths over the original well. He went on to build the adjacent Victoria Hotel which, unfortunately, was destroyed by fire in 1920.
The baths closed in 1983 after the shaft leading to the well collapsed. The building has been derelict since - a target for vandals.
Coun Leyland said restoring the spa water would be ‘the cherry on the cake’ but stressed the baths the project could still be viable as a ‘day spa’ facility.
He confirmed ELDC would assist developers to secure all-important grant funding.
He added: “On the back of the fact they want to get this right, GN Construction have already been working with international consultants and spa operators to see how they can promote and run it.
“They are doing everything in a very considered manner. This is not going to be a five minute wonder.”
A spokesman for GN Construction said: “There is still a lot of detailed planning and discussion to be put in place and agreed.
“Nevertheless, we are at least making real headway in turning a dream into reality and to bring alive again the establishment which is a key part of the name of this special village.”
GN Construction confirmed they were working closely with Whewhey International, a highly respected company who created Champneys UK and the Sanctuary in London’s Covent Garden.