The Cottage Museum

The Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum is a unique historical gem managed by a team of dedicated volunteers. It showcases the development of Woodhall Spa as a 19th-century spa town, originally designed by Richard Adolphus Came​​.

Historical Background

  1. Origins and Construction: The museum, inaugurated in 1987, occupies a distinctive corrugated iron bungalow built in 1887. This bungalow, a Boulton & Paul Ltd model, reflects the architectural trends of its time, with corrugated iron buildings being popular during the industrial revolution. These buildings were mass-produced, portable, and could be easily assembled, serving as a quick solution to the housing needs of rapidly growing urban populations​​​​.
  2. The Wield Family: The bungalow was the home of John and Mary Wield, who were integral to the spa town’s early days, offering rides in Bath chairs pulled by donkeys. John Wield, a passionate photographer, documented the Victorian spa community, creating a valuable photographic record that now forms the core of the museum’s collection​​.

Museum Exhibits and Activities

  1. Photographic Collection: John Wield’s extensive photographic collection provides a unique glimpse into life during the Victorian era. This collection is the cornerstone of the museum, portraying the everyday life and evolution of Woodhall Spa​​​​.
  2. Interactive Exhibits: Visitors can engage with a variety of toys and games from the past, allowing for a hands-on historical experience​​.
  3. Archive Collection: The museum also boasts a comprehensive archive, including photographs, postcards, glass-plate negatives, books, ledgers, maps, and other local artifacts. These are preserved in a controlled environment and digitized for accessible research​​.

Historical Significance of Woodhall Spa

  1. Early Beginnings: The town’s origins trace back to John Parkinson Esquire’s unsuccessful coal mining venture. However, the accidental discovery of mineral-rich “salt water” led to the establishment of a spa, attracting visitors seeking treatments for various ailments​​.
  2. Wartime History: During the war, Woodhall Spa played a significant role. It hosted a large number of service personnel, including 617 Squadron and the 1st Airlanding Brigade, who were based here. This period is a crucial part of the village’s history, marked by a blend of military and civilian life​​.

Current Status and Future Plans

The Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum continues to thrive, thanks to the dedication of its volunteers and the community. It first opened in 1987, evolving from John Wield’s vision to preserve the history of the spa town. The museum not only serves as a repository of history but also stands as a historical artifact in itself, being one of the few surviving examples of a Boulton and Paul bungalow​​.

In summary, the Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum is not just a collection of artifacts but a living testament to the town’s rich history. From its architectural uniqueness to the compelling stories of its inhabitants, the museum offers a vivid portal into the past, inviting visitors to step back in time and experience the evolution of a distinctive Victorian spa community.

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