The spring and its water have been the subject of reports and commentary as to their curative benefits since Elizabethan times.
Numerous historical reports and articles describe the healing benefits and curative effects of the water for local people who drank from the spring.
The first reference found regarding the Salt Pit Farm Spring states:
The information on who conducted the survey is limited, but the name Gowan and the year 1689 are mentioned.
Below are extracts taken from publications written at the when the spring was first referenced and during it’s life when it was recognised for it’s alleged ‘healing waters’ – Click on the dates and titles below (in blue) to read more about the history of Angel Revive’s spring.
Around 1690, Charles Leigh, a physician, visited the spring at Salt Pit Farm and documented in his journal comparisons of the water to the then famous healing springs and baths in Harrogate. These springs had already been recognised by Harrogate’s physicians as having healing powers that could cure a variety of ailments with patients advised to drink or bathe in the water to relieve their maladies. Leigh further continued to suggest that the Mawdesley spring be transformed into a public area, where patrons could bathe in and drink the water. Having similar qualities, it would allow nearby patrons to have their illnesses and conditions cured locally.
Short would have visited the Mawdesley spring well around 1730. In his journal he records an unsuccessful attempt to obtain salt from the field around 1612, with the area then being forgotten about until 1660 when two gentlemen attempted to conduct boring operations, which were once again abandoned for an unknown reason. Short continues to comment on the high mineral content, especially sulphur, and the medicinal qualities of the water, and how it could benefit people who could both drink or bathe in it. Short also recognised the water had previously cured cutaneous disorders and ulcers.
The recognition of the curative powers of the spring, and interest from physicians, led to a visit from a Preston Chronicle reporter. At the time of the visit, Thomas Joseph Trafford Esq. owned the land the spring occupied, leasing Salt Pit House to a William Occleshaw, who tended his livestock on the field the spring occupied. During the visit, Occleshaw explained to the reporter ‘that pigeons yet resort to the fountains in summer; that flocks of linnets visit it, and carry away water in their bills for their young; and that cows, on being first put to pasture in the field, immediately made to the spring, and drink with great avidity’. He then assured the reporter that ‘the disease of murrain has never been to visit the cattle on that farm’.
Murrain (meaning death in those times), was an umbrella term for a multitude of now known illnesses including; rinderpest, erysipelas, foot-and-mouth, anthrax, and streptococcus infections, some of which could transfer to humans. These illnesses inevitably led to death.
Interest from physicians led to many medical men meeting at the field. After one such meeting, three doctors and a man from Liverpool returned the following day (the gentleman, entered into a contract with Trafford to lease the field). Each of the medical men were excited about the water, all agreeing ‘that the water was equal to the famous Harrogate water’.
The Preston Chronicle report stated that ‘crowds of people continue to frequent it. It is therefore useless to make a journey to Harrogate, when such a fountain springs up at Mawdesley, in our own immediate neighbourhood, whose waters are declared by all to possess a healing in their draught’. This report reiterated what Leigh had predicted the previous century.
The claims of curative powers continued. A woman named Ditchfield from Rufford had been confined to crutches for seven years since her childhood, due to an accident causing injury to her leg and ankle. After hearing about the ‘Mawdesley Salt Pit’, she visited the spring to collect some water to use as a lotion on her leg. After a short period ‘she experienced great benefit from its use, and is now, to her great pleasure and astonishment, enabled to walk without crutches – and perform her work and journeys with the greatest ease and comfort’.
The Preston Chronicle returned to the spring shortly after the report of Miss Ditchfield and witnessed four men boring down into the spring to allow the water to be drawn more quickly. The workmen had reached a depth of approximately 45 feet, reaching a stratum of white rock which they said was softer than some of the other substances through which they had bored. The reporter noticed that the tools were covered with a white incrustation like hoar frost.
A Liverpool gentleman called Mr Neville, and a company of five or six others, invested £6,000 into the boring of the spring – a considerable amount of money in those days. Evidence of previous failed boring operations could be observed.
Returning nine months later, the reporter comments that the spring water had now been analysed and pronounced equal to other curative waters in England, that of Harrogate, and Cheltenham. The papers’ readers had all been made aware of the spring with the Preston Chronicle stating ‘many having experienced the healing powers themselves’.
The reporter continued saying they ‘had heard for some time about the exclusion of the public from availing themselves of its salubrious qualities; and it affords us great pleasure to have it in our power to record the determination of the owners of the estate to admit the public gratuitously to partake of the water’.
For unknown reasons, the Mawdesley Spring was covered over. The landowner’s quest to keep the spring open to members of the public may have failed, as information about the spring well ceased in the 1840s.
References are made to some boring shafts still present at Salt Pit Farm that date back to 1962. The book also tells of a well of fresh water that never runs dry in front of the farm house. ‘Before water came out of taps…’ the author writes, ‘people journeyed miles to this well during droughts’.