Prior to every story of a journey of ‘A’ to ‘Z’, before every story of a journey about to roll into action, there must be a starting position, the village, town or city that we come from & grew up in.
This is my ‘Point A’:
Leamington Spa (or Royal Leamington Spa as it’s formally know) is a small mid-England town not more than a bards short tale away from Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Roughly composed of 40,000 people from a range of different cultures of British, Asian, Polish, Spanish & Portuguese (Franca – and the odd Italian 😀), Leamington Spa is a post-industrial town with its founding & wealth largely generated from the sale & spa treatments of local spring waters.
Spring waters from the slightly flooded river pictured are probably not the wisest of refreshments.
By the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, the population of Leamington (or Leam to the locals) had exploded because of the spa treatment services being offered to the wealthy & well-to-do folk, but also, because of Leamington’s growing trade of industrially produced cookers & ovens.
The spa treatments themselves were being carried out by a number of Doctors in the local parish, the chief leader of these new services though, was a Dr. Jephson. Dr. Jephson led the way for the formation of local swimming baths & pools for those interested in the apparent ‘healing’ properties in the saline/salty spring water (I’ve personally tried this spring water, I’d avoid it if I were you) & from that, such great buildings as the Royal Pump Rooms & Baths were born.
The Pump Rooms no longer serve as a spa – though there may be more money made if it were – they are now used as a community building incorporating the town library, the town museum & the town art gallery. Though small, the art gallery itself is more than worth a look, most probably just for the special exhibition room which rotates regularly with quite curious pieces.
Dr. Jephson, loved as he was, must be thanked for the contribution he made to this spa town. Without the investment made by his customers, his friends & the local community, living in Leamington might have been a drab affair, however, over the proceeding years since the building of the Pump Rooms many other grand structures & parks took shape.
Living within grand architecture is probably part of the reason i’m often found with my head staring up at the sky towards the heady heights of some buildings, looking quiet & unspoken at many others & outspoken (probably too loudly) near the other buildings that remain.
Leamington (or Royal Leamington Spa or just plain Leam) is truly a wonder & I’d recommend stopping by to anyone who may be travelling to see the RSC in Stratford or the Bards Birthplace or maybe Warwick Castle which is right on our doorstep – TIP: Last time I checked, if you’re in Leamington’s Pump Rooms Tourist Office then enquire about discount Warwick Castle tickets, they might be able to do a percentage off – especially during the summer months to see how the sun reflects off those bright white buildings & be sure to bring a picnic for the park.
Do keep an eye out for my favourite piece of art in town, said to be located on the position of the first spring found in Leamington (though best to check with a historian on that!), with motions of waves at one angle, a perfect picture of a droplet of water at the other.
Oh, you want to know why it’s Royal Leamington Spa? Well, allow me.
Lets have a look at this fine looking & regal lady:
Well, as a princess, Victoria had spent some of a day & all of one night in one of Leamington’s hotels during what must have been a long horsedrawn journey to somewhere else, possibly Birmingham, maybe Stratford-Upon-Avon & then once again as Queen. During those two periods she grew to like & love Leamington Priors (as it was then known) and the when it came to the time when she was finally crowned Queen, she remembered our little spa town & gave us the ‘Royal’ prefix to help with our future tourism brochures & maybe for a bit of one-upmanship on close rival Warwick (not really Warwick folk, just joking – kinda). Royal Leamington Spa is one of only three towns to have the Royal prefix before it’s name.
So, that’s Leam. And this was where we were living until all this began: