This page covers the early history of the association. It will be updated soon to reflect more modern events and developments.
The History of the Springs Restoration Project
In August 1996 the Malvern Hills District Council led by Councillor John Ford, decided to appoint a Malvern Spa Water Strategy Working Group, chaired by Councillor John Tretheway, to address the role that water could play in the revitalisation of the town centre as part of their Regeneration Strategy. Jim Black from Severn Trent Water, Cora Weaver and Bruce Osborne, local historians, were among those who joined the Working Group with Carly Tinkler the Planning Officer, volunteering their expertise on Malvern’s springs and water systems. In response to newspaper appeals for ideas, by June 1996 sculptor Rose Garrard, then living in London, had independently proposed to the MHDC Planning Officer, Carly Tinkler, the creation of a new sculpture trail by nationally known sculptors, on lost spring sites throughout the town centre.
At the first meeting of the Spa Working Group on 20th September 1996, Rose presented her ideas for the ‘Malvern Water Trail’ and the Group identified two main objectives;-
- the restoration and conservation of the existing springs of the Malverns, and
- the establishment of sites for new town centre water features.
The District Council decided that it did not have sufficient resources to pursue both routes and so proceeded only with the creation of new water features, as their main objective was to regenerate Great Malvern town centre. In October 1997 the District Council implemented this “Spring Water Arts Project” and Rose was commissioned to undertake a two month long Artist’s Residency, consulting the public who mapped 245 remembered water sites around the hills. In her report to the District Council Rose identified 14 possible town centre water sites and suggested 33 historical themes for commissions to artists. Rose was commissioned to created a new spring water drinking spout, ‘Malvhina’, which was unveiled on 4th September 1998, followed by the Enigma Fountain unveiled by Prince Andrew in 2000, both on the first site of Belle Vue Island. With changes in the District Council following local elections no new Arts Officer was appointed, disqualifying the Malvern Water Trail from further grant aid and so no further artists were commissioned.
In order to take forward the other main objective, the restoration of Malvern’s historic springs and wells, a group of interested people had gathered together on 18th September 1998, including John Ford, John Tretheway, Jim Black, Rose Garrard and Carly Tinkler and the Malvern Spa Association (MSA) was formed. To ensure the future of this major restoration project, the MSA determined that it would devote its energies mainly to research, fund-raising, and water-related events and agreed that these initiatives would rely on a community-based membership. John Ford, who sadly died in 2006, was elected as the first MSA Chairman, 1998-2002. Carly Tinkler became our second MSA Chairman, 2002-2006. Rose Garrard became our third Chairman in 2006.
A large public meeting was held on 8th March 1999 at which a sustainable strategy for the MSA to restore Malvern’s water heritage was discussed and agreed. In 2002 the MSA’s detailed research on the history and current condition of 20 springs was given to the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty office to prepare as a Lottery bid on our behalf. Now in 2007, working with the AONB who manage the project and the budget, St Ann`s Well and the North Malvern Clock Tower are the first of eighteen spring water sites that we are able to restore with a grant of over £270,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of the Malvern Heritage Project.
The MSA receives no money from this grant for our running costs but relies on annual fees from our Members.