The Spa, near Ballynahinch
The Spa at Ballynahinch has been a resort since the early 18th century. The popularity of the Spa was due to the supposed medicinal properties of the waters and hundreds flocked to the area between May and October every year. The Assembly Rooms, seen in the photo, were built in 1840 by the Ker family (the local landlords) and were purchased by the adjacent temperance hotel in 1900. In the 1920s the Elmwood Spa hotel was owned by Mrs. W. R. Flinn and advertised that it was ," One of the Finest Inland Hotels in the North of Ireland. Exquisite View; Tennis and Croquet Lawns; Sulphur and Iron Springs; Hot Sulphur Baths; Large Comfortable Rooms. Late Dinner. Adjoining the Golf Links."
Writing on 12th July 1760 Mrs. Mary Delany noted that, " Master Price is much better
with drinking the Ballynahinch waters-
Bramah pumps were installed at Spa Wells in 1810 by Mr. David Ker of Montalto and a tourist boom occurred. In 1840 his son, David built the Spa Assembly Rooms with a ballroon upstairs reached by an elegant staircase. Magherahamlet Church of Ireland was built in 1815 for visiting tourists convenience. (DR 21/6/2006L)
"One of the most famous attractions of Spa as well as the 3 pump houses was the Labyrinth. Many guests wandered around to get to the middle. There was a bell there which they rang. Many parties and tea dances were held in the Elmwood Hotel (now Spa Nursing home). Guests were ferried from the train in Ballynahinch by jaunting car to Spa.
Unfortunately, now the maze has been built on. There are 8 houses on the site. There was an outcry at the time but eventually permission was granted to build! It is said that there are United Irish Men buried there. Echo Hall just along the road from the Church was where the United Irish Men stayed the night before the Battle of Ballynahinch and there was a prayer meeting held just in front of it."
Newspaper articles from Northern Star;
Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
sulphur & iron well here; l article 28 Mar 1840; Protestant ball 9 Mar 1844: article 2 Aug 1845: letter 20 Jun 1846: archery fete 10 Jul 1847: article 2 Oct 1852; article 5 May 1866; golf more popular than the waters 24 Jul 1915; meeting of Co Down Staghounds in Spa 3 Jan 1936; imporved facilities at The Spa 16 Apr 1937; reputation of The Spa 4 Jun 1939; photo 23/4/2008