- Leamington Spa
Infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Royal Leamington Spa
static_image_caption = The Parade
civil_parish= Royal Leamington Spa
population = 45,114
region= West Midlands
constituency_westminster= Warwick and Leamington
post_town= LEAMINGTON SPA
postcode_district = CV31, CV32, CV33
Leamington Spa, properly Royal Leamington Spa, commonly Leamington (pronEng|ˈlɛmɪŋtən), audio|En-leamington.ogg|listen and "Leam" to locals, is a
spa townin central Warwickshire, England.
According to the 2001 census the town had a population of 45,114 making it the third largest town in the county after
Nuneatonand Rugby. It is named after the River Leamwhich flows through the town.
Geography and character
Leamington is the most populous town in the southern half of
Warwickshire(the county is almost split in two by the West Midlands). The town is split north and south by the river Leam, which can flood at times (notoriously so around Easter 1998and to a lesser degree in July 2007). The town is extending rapidly, particularly to the south. Many people commute from Leamington to Coventry, 10 miles north and Birmingham, 25 miles northwest. As a result of the commuter rush, traffic during rush hour can be quite heavy in the town.
The town is noted for its parks and gardens, particularly the
The Jephson Gardens, close to the Royal Pump Roomsand next to the River Leam. These were seriously damaged in the floods of 1998, but have been restored, and even improved with funding from the National Lottery. The other side of the River Leam, on the road "Priory Terrace" close to the Parish Church, features a 19th century slipway down to the river which was specifically constructed so that circus elephants in winter quarters in Leamington could be watered. Other well known parks include the "Mill Gardens" on the opposite bank of the river to Jephson Gardens, Victoria Park, the Royal Pump Room Gardens, Newbold Comyn, The Dell and "Welsh’s Meadow" nature reserve.The central part of the town is "The Parade", a street which hosts amongst other things, a selection of shops, including high street chains and the "Royal Priors" covered shopping centre.
A number of students and staff of the
University of Warwick, which is on Coventry's southern outskirts, reside in Leamington, adding to the variety of nightlife, restaurants and bars.
There is much Georgian and early
Victorian architecture, including numerous Georgian townhouses, giving Leamington a somewhat grand appearance. It is generally considered as one of the most prosperous and affluent towns in the English Midlands. Population growth has led to Leamington forming a small conurbation in excess of 85,000 inhabitants with the neighbouring towns of Warwickand Whitnashand several sizeable satellite villages such as Cubbingtonand Radford Semele.
Centre of England
It has been claimed that Leamington lies near the centre of
England. Indeed, a young tree called the Midland Oak, at Lillington, just to the northeast of the town centre, is marked by a plaque claiming that it is at the very centre of the country, although there may be little evidence to back this claim.
The popularity of the town's waters in the 19th century led to the town's initial growth by fuelling Leamington's main industry -
tourism- until the late 19th century when the rise of passenger rail made seaside resorts more accessible to many, reducing the attraction of inland holiday destinations.
In the 21st Century, Leamington vies for popularity as a retail destination with neighbouring places such as
Coventry, and Birmingham.
Meanwhile, the presence of the then
Warwick and Napton Canal(later amalgamated into the Grand Union Canal) led to growth in other industries. Officially opened in 1799, the canal was the primary means of cargo transport until, beginning in the mid 19th century, rail gradually took over. Trinder, Barry, (2003) "The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps: Leamington Spa (South) 1923", ISBN 9 781841 515175]
The canal supplied coal to the gasworks on Tachbrook Road, providing gas to light the town from 1835 onwards. Pig iron, coke and limestone were delivered by canal, allowing a number of foundries to be established in Leamington, specialising in cast iron
stoves. Today the Eagle Foundry, dating from at least 1851, continues to manufacture Rangemaster stoves. The Imperial Foundry, dating from at least 1925, was subsequently taken over by Ford, casting engine blocks until its closure in 2008.
Throughout the 20th century, while tourism took a downturn, Leamington's industry prospered.
LockheedCorporation built a factory in the South of the town in 1928. The site is still running as "Automotive Products", and the automotive industry is well represented in the area.
Commercial parks for light industry and offices are primarily located to the South of the town, where they are conveniently located for the
Video game industry
Leamington Spa plays host to a large number of game developers, with well-known development studios including
Blitz Games, bigBig Studios, FreeStyleGames, Supersonic Softwareand Aqua Pacificall in the town itself. Very close to Leamington are Codemasters, CustomPlay Gamesand Fishinabottle. [ [http://www.birminghampost.net/birmingham-business/tm_headline=computer-games-still-booming&method=full&objectid=18794544&siteid=50002-name_page.html "Computer Games Still Booming", "The Birmingham Post"] 22 March, 2007.]
Leamington is close to the
M40 motorwaywhich links it to Birminghamand London. It is also served by the A46 which links it to Coventry.
For rail Leamington railway station is served by the
Chiltern Main Linewhich links London(Marylebone) to Birmingham(Snow Hill). Fast train services on this route are operated by Chiltern Railways. London Midlandoperate local services to Birminghamand onwards to Worcester.
There is also a line connecting Leamington Spa to
Coventrywhich is used by Arriva CrossCountryservices to Reading, Oxfordand Bournemouthto the south. And to Coventry, Birmingham(New Street), Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburghto the north.
Grand Union Canalalso runs through the town.
busservices to Kenilworth, the University of Warwickand Coventryare operated competitively by Stagecoach in Warwickshireand National Express Coventry. Services to Warwick, Banbury, Stratford Upon Avonand Rugby are operated by Stagecoach in Warwickshire and other independent companies.
secondary schools are North Leamington Community School and Arts College, Campion School, Trinity Catholic Schooland Kingsley School, an independent schoolfor girls. The main campus of Warwickshire Collegeis also in Leamington. The college also has centres in Moreton Morrell, Rugby and Henley-in-Arden, and the newest Trident Park centre just outside of Leamington.
Leamington is a relatively modern town. Until the beginning of the 1800s Leamington was a village named "Leamington Priors", Leamington was first mentioned in the
Domesday Bookof 1086as "Lamintone". For 400 years the settlement was under the control of Kenilworth Priory, whence the older suffix. Allen, Geoff, (2000) "Warwickshire Towns & Villages", ISBN 1 85058 642 X] .
Leamington would have probably remained as a small village near
Warwick, had it not been for the rediscovery of the healing properties of spa waters (they had been known about in Roman times). The first spring to be used for commercial purposes was discovered in Leamington in 1784by William Abbottsand Benjamin Satchwell, and steps were soon underway to develop the town.
Its name came from
Anglo-Saxon"Leman-tūn" or "Lemen-tūn" = "farm on the River Leam".
The town centre "Old Town" was originally located on the southern bank of the River Leam. At first, development only took place south of the river. Soon however speculative builders, tired of building around the old village concentrated much of their effort on the land north of the river, resulting in the current Georgian centre "New Town" north of the river, with the Leam flowing through the centre of the modern town.
In 1814 the "Royal Pump Rooms and Baths" were opened close to the River Leam. This grand structure attracted many visitors, hoping to soothe various aches, pains and ailments by bathing in pools filled with the salty spa water. It also included the world's first gravity fed piped hot water system in modern times, which was designed and installed by the engineer
William Murdoch. Leamington soon became a popular spa resort which attracted the wealthy and famous, and construction began of numerous Georgian townhouses to accommodate visitors.
Leamington's reputation soon spread. The town gained its "Royal" prefix in 1838, granted by Queen Victoria, who visited the town as a Princess in 1830 and as Queen in 1858, and whose statue still stands in the town. The statue was almost destroyed by a German bomb during
World War II, and was actually moved by an inch on its plinth in the blast. The statue was not returned to its original position, and in fact a small plaque on the statue's plinth makes note of this incident.
The function of the Royal Pump Rooms changed several times over the following years. While retaining its assembly rooms and medical facilities, around 1863 it was extended to include a Turkish Bath and swimming pool and in 1875 the
Royal Pump Room Gardenswere opened to the public. A further swimming pool was added in 1890. In 1997 the local district council, which now owns the building, closed the facility for redevelopment, reopening it in 1999 as a cultural centre. It now contains Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, Library, Tourist Information Centre, refurbished assembly rooms and a cafe. Spa water can still be sampled outside the building. Further information about the history of the building and the services it now contains can be found in the [http://www.royal-pump-rooms.co.uk/ Royal Pump Rooms] website.
In the mid-19th century, spa resorts went out of fashion. Whilst Leamington suffered something of a financial 'crash' as a result, it became a popular place of residence for retired people and for prosperous members of the middle-class moving out from
Coventryand Birmingham.Slater, Terry (1981) "A History of Warwickshire", ISBN 0-85033-416-0] . The spending-power of its wealthy residents led to the development of Leamington as a popular place for shopping.
Leamington has subsumed the villages of Lillington and "New Milverton" (though the village of
Old Milvertonstill exists just outside of the town) to the north. The area of modern and more run-down housing, Sydenham, to the south-east is a major suburb of Leamington.
Leamington is closely associated with the foundation of the game of
Lawn Tennis, and the first tennis club in the world was formed in 1872 just behind the former Manor House Hotel. It was in Leamington Tennis Club that the modern rules of Lawn Tennis were drawn up in 1874.
During the Second World War, Leamington Spa was home to the Free Czechoslovak Army. A memorial in the
Jephson Gardenscommemorates brave Czechoslovak parachutists from Warwickshire.
Leamington Spa is administered by several local authorities, each with different responsibilities, the two main authorities are
Warwickshire County Counciland Warwick District Council. Since 2002Leamington has also been a civil parishand therefore has its own Town Council. [http://www.leamingtonspatowncouncil.gov.uk//?p=3 Leamington Town Council] ]
1875and 1974Leamington was a municipal borough. [ [http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit_page.jsp?u_id=10108688 Vision of Britain] ] . As part of the 1974 local government reform it was merged with Warwick, Kenilworthand surrounding rural areas into the Warwick district, the headquarters of which are based in Leamington.
Leamington is part of the Parliamentary constituency of Warwick and Leamington. Since the 1997 general election the sitting MP has been
James Plaskittof the Labour Party, but before then was considered a safe Conservative constituency, with former Prime Minister Anthony Edenonce a Leamington MP. At the 2005 general election, James Plaskitt had a majority of just 266 votes.
See for a list of biographies of people from Leamington Spa.
John Betjemanpoem " Death in Leamington" portrays one view of Leamington's milieu.
occultistand mountain climber Aleister Crowleywas born at 36 Clarendon Square in Royal Leamington Spa, between 11:00pm and midnight on October 12, 1875.
The inventor of the
jet engine Frank Whittle, and the biographer Lytton Stracheyboth attended Leamington College for Boys on Binswood Avenue (now "Binswood Hall" part of North Leamington Community School and Arts College).
The eminent police chief and police reformer
Sir Arthur Youngwas Chief Constable of Leamington Spa from 1938 to 1941. When the Watch Committee selected him he was aged only 31 - the youngest anyone has ever been appointed as a chief constable in the UK. After the Coventry Blitzin 1940, he was seconded to help the daily running of their police force.
Leonard Hodgsonlived at 34 Newbold Terrace, Leamington Spa.
Leamington has been featured in a number of television series, including the 1990s
BBCsituation comedy " Keeping Up Appearances" - filmed in and around the area. Notable episodes included one with Walton Hall which had footage of the actual town in them, including the River Leam being featured as a fishing spot and boating spot. Other series include the drama "Dangerfield", BBC's comedy children's show on CBBC " ChuckleVision", "Broke" starring Timothy Spall, and comedy detective series "Mayo".
Leamington has held an annual Peace Festival since 1987, a celebration of alternative culture, at the Pump Room Gardens.
Leamington also has a thriving music scene. In the punk era, the most well-known band were The Shapes, led by singer
Seymour Bybussand bass guitarist Brian Helicopter, who released an E.P. called "Part Of The Furniture" in 1979, and went on to record a session for John Peeland played with bands such as The Cureand The Fall. Other punk bands from Leamington included The Varukers, Depraved, Visions of Change and the Joyce McKinneyExperience [ [http://hearditbefore.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/the-best-punk-from-leamington-spa/ I've heard it before] , a blog on old punk.] .
Anti-establishment musical revolutionaries the
Edgar Broughton Bandhail from Warwick and after four decades are still going strong with their own brand of clever, counter-cultural rock. There is now a thriving local music scene with local bands playing most nights in the town's bars. In December 2005 the Leamington band Nizlopi, a product of the Leamington scene, reached Number 1 in the UK Singles Chartwith The JCB Song. The Woodbine Street Recording Studioshas been used by several well-known music acts such as Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Sceneand The Specials. Also Bolt Thrower, an influential death metalband formed in 1986, are from Leamington. They too have recorded sessions with John Peel.
[http://www.leamingtonmusic.org/ Leamington Music] , the successor organisation to the Warwick Arts Society, organises many classical music concerts in the Leamington area. The minimalist composer
Howard Skemptonresides there also. The separate Leamington Spa Competitive Festival for Music Dance and Drama, which has run annually since 1910 continues to thrive.
The town is colloquially referred to as "Leam" by some locals and is commonly thought to have a north–south divide. The "North" of Leam contains prestigious townhouses (and the new town centre), where the "South" (generally accepted as being South of the railway bridge) contains poorer quality, higher density housing often occupied by students from the
University of Warwick, a major demographic group in the town. This supposed divide is underlined by the postcode - CV32 being north of the River Leamand CV31 south.
Theatre & Cinema
Leamington has many bars and three night clubs of note. There's a vibrant scene, especially in university term time. Smack, formerly Sugar, is popular on Tuesdays and Evolve on Thursdays. At the weekend the many bars and all the clubs are busy, as the Spa swells with revellers from neighbouring towns and villages.
port and leisure
There are a number of sports clubs and leisure facilities in Leamington Spa, including the football club
Leamington F.C., a disc golf course "Quarry Park", a leisure centre including swimming pool "Newbold Comyn Leisure Centre", rugby grounds "Leamington Rugby Union Football Club", "Leamington Rugby Club - Youth Section" and "Old Leamingtonians Rugby Football Club", Leamington Cricket Club, [http://www.leamingtonhockeyclub.co.uk Leamington Hockey Club] , municipal tennis courts, and an Ultimate Frisbee Team the "Leamington Lemmings".
Whitnashis a town which merges with Leamington directly to the south of the town and is generally considered as a suburb.
Cubbington(comprising of the old village Cubbington and New Cubbington) is a sizeable village which merges with the Leamington urban area to the northeast and is often regarded as a suburb of the town.
The village of
Radford Semeleonly 4 km to the east is sometimes referred to as one of the town's suburbs, however it does not quite merge with Leamington's urban area at any point and is distinctly separate.
Warwick- 4 km (2.5 miles) west (the two towns have become conjoined through growth)
Whitnash- 3 km (2 miles) south (a small town which has become a southern suburb)
Cubbington- 3 km (2 miles) northeast (a large village which has become a northern suburb)
Kenilworth- 7 km (4.5 miles) north.
Southam- 9.5 km (6 miles) east.
Kineton- 15 km (9 miles) south.
Coventry- 16 km (10 miles) north
Stratford-upon-Avon- 18 km (11 miles) southwest
*Rugby 23 km (15 miles) northeast.
Leamington is twinned with:
Leamington has friendship agreements with:
Leamington, Ontario, Canada.
* [http://www.jamesplaskitt.com/ James Plaskitt - Member of Parliament]
* [http://www.leamingtonspatowncouncil.gov.uk/ Leamington Spa Town Council]
Commerce and business
* [http://www.royal-leamington-spa.co.uk/htmlfiles/frame.htm Royal Leamington Spa Chamber of Trade]
* [http://www.magal.co.uk/APDrivePlant.php Automotive Products Driveline Technologies Ltd]
* [http://www.thekingsleyschool.com/ The Kingsley School]
* [http://www.northleamingtonschool.warwickshire.sch.uk/ North Leamington Community School & Arts College]
* [http://www.trinity-school.org.uk/ Trinity Catholic School Arts and Techology College]
* [http://www.bathplace.org/ Bath Place Community Venture]
* [http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/corporate/communit.nsf/6b0fa4264509bf1e802569b9005944e4/82af131fc1f97d1b80256cc50052dfe8?OpenDocument Sydni Centre]
* [http://www.thehealthyliving.net/ Brunswick Healthy Living Centre]
* [http://www.leamingtonspatoday.co.uk/ The Courier] A Local Leamington Newspaper
* [http://www.leamingtonobserver.co.uk/ Leamington Observer] A Local Leamington Newspaper
* [http://www.leamingtonphotos.com/ Leamington Spa Picture Library] Photo archive of Leamington Spa
* [http://www.oldstratforduponavon.com/leamington.html Old Postcard Views of Leamington]
* [http://www.otba.org.uk/history.htm More about elephants in Leamington and the birth of Lawn Tennis]
* [http://www.royal-pump-rooms.co.uk/ Royal Pump Rooms]
* [http://www.bathplace.org/history/history.html Bath Place Community Archive Project]
* [http://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/RoyalPumpRooms/Leamington+History/default.htm History - Warwick District Council]
* [http://www.leamingtonhockeyclub.co.uk Leamington Hockey Club]
* [http://www.leamingtonlemmings.co.uk Leamington Lemmings Ultimate Frisbee Team]
* [http://www.leamingtonMusic.org Leamington Music]
* [http://www.leamingtonfc.co.uk Leamington Football Club]
* [http://www.leamington.pl Polish community in Leamington Spa] In Polish.
* [http://www.leamcompfest.org.uk/ Leamington Spa Competitive Festival]
* [http://www.leamingtoncyclingandathletics.org.uk/ Leamington Cycling and Athletics Club]
* [http://www.quarrypark.co.uk/ Disc Golf course in Leamington Spa]
* [http://www.olrfc.co.uk/ Rugby Club in Leamington Spa]
* [http://www.leamingtonrufc.co.uk/ Leamington Rugby Union Football Club]
* [http://www.leamingtonyouthrugby.co.uk Leamington Rugby Club - Youth Section]
* [http://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/WDC/Leisure+and+culture/Sports/Sports+facilities/Newbold+Comyn+Leisure+Centre/ Newbold Comyn Leisure Centre]
* [http://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/WDC/Leisure+and+culture/Sports/Sports+facilities/Tennis+Courts/default.htm Municipal Tennis courts]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.