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West Midlands Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Although the benefits of 'taking the waters' have been known since Roman times, Leamington was still a small village until the end of the C18th when the properties of the waters began to be exploited commercially with the building of small bath houses around the springs. Numbers of visitor increased and the town began to grow rapidly. By the start of the C19th it was a popular resort for people taking the waters and the Royal Pump Rooms and Baths were built near the River Leam at a cost of £30,000. The spa treatment was claimed to cure or alleviate a huge number of disorders including ‘stiffness of tendons, rigidity of the joints, the effects of gout and rheumatism and various paralytic conditions’ The spa water also acted as a mild laxative, so increasing its potential benefits.

The town grew rapidly with wide streets lined with splendid Regency and Victorian architecture. Queen Victoria visited the town which was renamed Royal Leamington Spa. It’s popularity continued to grow. All Saints’ Church was built for the ever increasing number of visitors to the town. It is still one of the largest parish churches in Britain.
All Saints' Parish Church .png

All Saints' Church.png

Jephson Gardens and the Pump Room Gardens with it band stand, were attractive areas for visitors to promenade.

By the end of the C19th, the popularity of Spas and taking the waters began to decline and this continued during the C20th, speeded up by the effect of two world wars. Leamington now became a popular place for the middle class moving out of Coventry and Birmingham as well as the retired.
Leamington Spa.png

These brought money into the town which is now a popular shopping centre for the area with a mix of big names and smaller specialist boutique shops.

The Spa and Pump Rooms in a splendid Neo-classical building with a pillared portico, closed down and were taken over by Warwick District Council. They now house an Art Gallery, museum, library and cafe as well as the Tourist Information Centre.
Pump Rooms.png

There is a thriving cultural scene with the Loft Theatre Company as well as many excellent pubs and restaurants.

Jephson Gardens have been restored back to their Victorian splendour with a new conservatory and are a very attractive green space in the centre of the town.
Jephson Gardens .png

Jephson Gardens.png

Jephson Gardens.png

Rowing boats can be hired at the Leam Boat Centre.

Tourist Information also has leaflets describing walks around the town or there is an online walk here. For those wanting something a bit different, there is a leaflet for the Elephant Trail with information about Sam Lockhart, the world famous elephant trainer with maps showing where he and his elephants lived and performed. The elephant wash can still be seen where the elephants were taken down to the River Leam to bathe.

Royal Leamington Spa is often ignored by tourists who head for Warwick or Stratford upon Avon. This is a shame as it is a very attractive town and well worth a visit with its wide streets, good range of shops, attractive architecture and gardens.
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