Leamington Spa

From Academic Kids

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Leamington_Spa_pumphouses.jpg
The Royal Pump Rooms and Baths

Template:GBmap Royal Leamington Spa, usually shortened to Leamington Spa or Leamington (pronounced LemmingtonIPA: ) is a spa town in central Warwickshire, in England. In 2001 it had a population of 45,114. It is named after the River Leam which flows through the town.

Contents

Introduction

Leamington is the most populous town in the southern half of Warwickshire (the county is almost split in two by Coventry, now in the West Midlands). The town is split north and south by the river Leam, which can flood at times. The town is extending rapidly, particularly to the south. Industry in the town is light to medium and is concentrated along the route to the M40, south of the town. Many people commute from Leamington to Coventry, 10 miles north and Birmingham, 25 miles northwest.

The town is famous for its wonderful parks and gardens, particularly the Jephson Gardens, close to the Royal Pump Rooms and next to the River Leam. The central part of the town is the Parade, a street which hosts Royal Priors shopping centre and a wide range of high street chains.

A large number of students and staff of the University of Warwick, in Coventry, reside in Leamington, which as a result has a vibrant nightlife with a wide range of restaurants and bars, ranging from cheap to extravagant.

There is much Georgian and early Victorian architecture, including numerous Georgian townhouses, giving Leamington a somewhat grand appearance. Population growth has lead to Leamington becoming practically joined to the neighbouring town of Warwick.

The town is colloquially referred to as "Leam" by some locals.

Transport

Leamington is close to the M40 motorway which links it to Birmingham and London. It is also served by the A46 which links it to Coventry.

Leamington is served by regular rail services from London (Marylebone) to Birmingham (Snow Hill) and Stratford-upon-Avon, operated by Chiltern Railways. Leamington Spa railway station also sees direct long-distance services from Reading and Oxford to Coventry, Birmingham (New Street), Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, all operated by Virgin Trains.

The Grand Union Canal also runs through the town.

History

Leamington is a fairly modern town, which barely existed before the 19th century. Until the beginning of the 1800s the town was actually little more than a village which went by the name of Leamington Priors. At the turn of that century the healing properties of spa waters were re-discovered (they had been known about in Roman times) and Leamington boasted such a spring.

In 1814 the Royal Pump Rooms and Baths were opened close to the River Leam, which runs through centre of the town. This grand structure attracted many visitors, hoping to soothe various aches, pains and ailments by bathing in pools filled with the salty spa water. Leamington soon became a popular spa resort which attracted the wealthy and famous, and construction began of numerous Georgian townhouses to accommodate visitors.

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The town hall with Queen Victoria's statue

Leamington's reputation soon spread. The town gained its "Royal" prefix in 1838, following a visit by Queen Victoria, whose statue still stands in the town (the statue was almost destroyed by a German bomb in WW2).

The function of the Pump Rooms changed several times over the following years. From around the end of the Second World War until 1996 it served as a medical centre. In 1996 the local district council finally closed the facility and re-opened the building as a culture and heritage centre. It features the Leamington Art Gallery, a museum and library as well as a Tourist Information Centre and café. Spa water can still be sampled at the museum.

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 Coventry and Birmingham. The spending-power of its wealthy residents lead to the development of Leamington as a popular place for shopping.

By 1901 the population of Leamington had grown from almost nothing to nearly 27,000. During the twentieth century, the population has grown further, to over 42,000.

Leamington has subsumed the villages of Lillington and New Milverton (though the village of Old Milverton still exists just outside of the town) to the north, and the area of modern and somewhat more run-down housing, Sydenham, to the south.

Nearby places

  • Warwick - 2.5 miles west (the two towns have become joined together through growth)
  • Whitnash - 2 miles south (the two towns border each other)
  • Cubbington - 2 miles northeast (a village which borders Leamington)
  • Kenilworth - 4.5 miles north.
  • Stratford-upon-Avon - 11 miles southwest
  • Rugby 15 miles northeast.

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