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Famous Names

The Salt King

John Corbett was born in 1817 at Brierley Hill and worked in his father’s canal business to gain capital; with it, in his late twenties, he purchased six acres of land comprising a derelict brine works outside Stoke Prior near Bromsgrove.

In 1854, he began building his salt works, which became the largest, most modern and most successful in Europe, earning him the title of  ‘Salt King’.

In 1856 John married Anna O’Meara in Paris. He commissioned a French architect to design the Chateau Impney and building started in 1875. The Chateau was completed at an estimated cost of seven million pounds in today’s figures.

Corbett, a great philanthropist, helped change a grim industrial town into a fashionable spa in the late 19th century. Salters Hall, St Andrew’s Brine Baths, and the Worcestershire Hotel were all built around Victoria Square and the Raven Hotel was converted from the old St Andrew’s Manor House.

The GWR railway station, (of the old Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway), was rebuilt and visitors flocked to the town to use the spa facilities. At the time of Corbett’s death, in 1901, it was estimated that he owned or part-owned nearly half the town.

He was generous elsewhere in the UK. Family holidays were taken at Towyn on the west coast of Wales. The town’s promenade was rebuilt by Corbett and a plaque can be seen at the northern end to commemorate this fact. In nearby Stourbridge he offered his Georgian mansion, The Hill, Amblecote, for conversion into a hospital. The offer was accepted and the hospital was opened in 1893.

Making a play upon his name (the French word for a raven is corbeau) John Corbett adopted the raven as part of his family crest. Many buildings, built or sponsored by John Corbett, in and around Droitwich Spa can be seen showing a raven, usually within the framework of gable ends.

Edward Winslow

Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together.

Edward Winslow Facts

  • He was born in Droitwich Spa 18 October 1595, baptised in St Peters Church.
  • His father, Edward Sr, owned a Salt Mine and was Under-Sherriff of Droitwich Spa.
  • Edward was one of ten students championed for a scholarship by the Dean of the Cathedral.
  • Between April 1606 and April 1611 (aged 10 to 15), Edward Winslow attended the King's School at Worcester Cathedral.
  • 2 years after leaving school records show he became a printers apprentice in London.
  • He left England in 1617 to join the separatists in Leiden, Holland.
  • He assisted William Brewster in publishing promotional material and religious books that were illegal in England.
  • Edward was one of four men who contracted the Mayflower and Speedwell for the Separatists journey to America.
  • He was the third person to sign the compact showing his status within the colony.
  • He performed the marriage ceremonies for the colony and was imprisoned for it on returning to England.
  • His son Josiah was the first native born governor of an American Colony.
  • When the Wampanoag chief was seriously ill, Winslow, with no medical training, nursed him back to health using chicken soup.
  • He established rights with the natives for fishing and trading posts across a large area of land.
  • It was Edward Winslow who documented the 3 day Harvest Celebration event Americans now call Thanksgiving.
  • The Winslow Family have the most descendants in American our of all the Pilgrim Fathers.
  • Edward Winslow is the only Mayflower Pilgrim with a portrait done from life, a copy hangs in Droitwich Spa Town Council Chamber.
  • In 1646, Winslow began working for Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector.
  • Cromwell appointed Edward to a number of important committees, including one overseeing the confiscation of property from royalty.
  • Edward Winslow was sent in 1655, by Cromwell to the West Indies as part of a military expedition to establish English settlements there. During the voyage, Winslow caught yellow fever and died at sea.

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