Powerflush nearby to Leamington Spa
Royal Leamington Spa, also known as Leamington Spa or simply Leamington, is a spa town and civil parish in the English county of Warwickshire. Originally a small village called Leamington Priors, it grew into a spa town in the 18th century as its water was popularised for its medicinal properties. The town experienced one of the most rapid expansions in England during the nineteenth century. The town is named after the River Leam, which runs through it.
The town has some particularly fine Regency architecture, particularly in parts of the Parade, Clarendon Square, and Lansdowne Circus.
Leamington had a population of 52,213 in 2019. Leamington is joined by the towns of Warwick and Whitnash, as well as the village of Cubbington, to form the “Royal Leamington Spa Built-up Area,” which had a population of 95,172 in 2011.
Leamington is located approximately 8 miles (13 kilometres) south of Coventry, 20 miles (32 kilometres) south-east of Birmingham, and 81 miles (130 kilometres) north-west of London.
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Leamington Priors, a small village, began to develop as a town at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was first mentioned as Lamintone in the Domesday Book in 1086. For 400 years, the settlement was under the control of Kenilworth Priory, which gave rise to the older suffix. It got its name from the Anglo-Saxon Leman-tn or Lemen-tn, which means “farm on the Leam.” The spa waters had been known since Roman times, and their rediscovery in 1784 by William Abbotts and Benjamin Satchwell resulted in their commercialization, with invalids beginning to visit in 1786. Only the original spring at the site of the Aylesford Well, adjacent to the Parish Church, occurred naturally; the other six wells were drilled for.
The old village of Leamington Priors was located on the southern bank of the River Leam, and its early development was centred on this. During the early nineteenth century, developers began to focus the town’s growth on the land north of the river. As a result, the Georgian centre of New Town was created, with the Leam flowing between the two.
By 1810, the town’s existing bath houses were unable to accommodate the growing number of visitors, and a syndicate was formed to build a new bath house north of the River Leam. Bertie Greatheed, a wealthy plantation owner and landowner from Guys Cliffe and a syndicate member, discovered a new saline spring on land near the river. C.S. Smith, who also designed The Regent Hotel and the Upper Assembly Rooms in town, designed the Royal Pump Rooms and Baths on the site in 1814. Outside the building, spa water can still be sampled.
With numerous Georgian townhouses to accommodate visitors, Leamington became a popular spa resort attracting the wealthy and famous. The Parade was built in sections beginning in 1808, followed by the Regent Hotel in 1818, a town hall in 1830, and the Jephson Gardens in 1834. In 1838, Queen Victoria bestowed the ‘Royal’ prefix on the town, and ‘Leamington Priors’ was renamed ‘Royal Leamington Spa.’ Queen Victoria came to town as a Princess in 1830 and again as Queen in 1858. The Victoria Bridge was built in 1840 to connect the old and new towns, replacing an old, narrow, and inconvenient bridge.
Leamington grew rapidly; at the time of the first national census in 1801, the population was only 315; by 1851, it had grown to 15,724, and by 1901, it had grown to 26,888.
The London and North Western Railway established the first railway line into Leamington in 1844, with a branch line from Coventry, followed by a branch to Rugby in 1851. The Great Western Railway’s main line between Birmingham, Oxford, and London opened through Leamington in 1852, marking the opening of the first railway station at the current location.
As the popularity of spa resorts declined towards the end of the nineteenth century, the focus of Leamington’s economy shifted to becoming a popular place of residence for retirees and middle-class residents, many of whom relocated from Coventry and Birmingham. Because of its wealthy residents, Leamington has become a popular shopping destination.
Warneford Hospital, named after philanthropist Samuel Wilson Warneford, opened in 1832 as the town’s main hospital. Initially a semi-private enterprise, it was taken over by the National Health Service after WWII before succumbing to budget cuts and closing in 1993.
The town of Leamington is closely associated with the birth of lawn tennis. Major Henry Gem and Augurio Pereira, who had begun playing tennis in Pereira’s garden, founded the world’s first tennis club in 1872. The modern rules of lawn tennis were developed in 1874 at Leamington Tennis Club, which was located just behind the former Manor House Hotel.
During the Second World War, Leamington was bombed several times during The Blitz; while this caused significant damage, it resulted in relatively few casualties.
The town was also the headquarters of the Free Czechoslovak Army; a memorial in the Jephson Gardens honours the bravery of Czechoslovak parachutists from Warwickshire.
Leamington is divided by the River Leam, which runs east to west and is prone to flooding in extreme weather, with particularly heavy floods in 1998 and 2007.
The town has a number of parks and gardens, including the Jephson Gardens, which are located near the Royal Pump Rooms and the River Leam. These were severely damaged in the 1998 floods, but have since been restored and improved thanks to National Lottery funding. The “Elephant Walk,” a 19th-century slipway down to the river on Priory Terrace, is located near the suspension bridge in Jephson Gardens on the other side of the River Leam. It was built specifically to provide water to circus elephants in winter quarters in Leamington. Other parks include Victoria Park, the Royal Pump Room Gardens, The Dell, and Newbold Comyn, which includes the nature reserves Welches Meadow and Leam Valley on the opposite bank of the river from Jephson Gardens.
Parade is the main street that runs through the town centre (formerly Lillington Lane until 1860). This shopping street is home to high-end retailers as well as The Royal Priors shopping mall.