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Leamington Spa

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Leamington Spa

Coordinates: 52°17′31″N 1°32′13″W / 52.292°N 1.537°W / 52.292; -1.537

Royal Leamington Spa

Parade
Warwickshire
Population 49,491 (2011 census)
OS grid reference SP316660
Civil parish Royal Leamington Spa
District Warwick
Shire county Warwickshire
Region West Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LEAMINGTON SPA
Postcode district CV31, CV32, CV33
Dialling code 01926
Police Warwickshire
Fire Warwickshire
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament Warwick and Leamington
List of places
UK
England
Warwickshire

Royal Leamington Spa, commonly known as Leamington Spa or Leamington River Leam which flows through the town.

The town comprises six electoral wards; Brunswick, Milverton, Manor, Crown, Clarendon and Willes. The total population for those wards in 2011 was 49,491.[3]

History

Formerly known as Leamington Priors, Leamington began to develop as a town at the start of the 19th century. It was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Lamintone. For 400 years, the settlement was under the control of Kenilworth Priory, from which the older suffix derived.[4] Its name came from Anglo-Saxon Leman-tūn or Lemen-tūn = "farm on the River Leam".[5] The spa waters had been known in Roman times and their rediscovery in 1784 by William Abbotts and Benjamin Satchwell, led to their commercialisation.[4]

Early development of the old town centre was on the southern bank of the River Leam. Later builders began concentrating the town's expansion on the land north of the river, resulting in the Georgian centre of New Town with the Leam flowing between the two. In 1767 Parliament passed an Act, proposed by Edward Willes, a local landowner, for dividing and enclosing the open and common land on the south and west of the River Leam.[6] Following a survey of the area by John Tomlinson in 1768, the land was estimated to be 990 acres (4.0 km2) and was subsequently divided, and new public roads were laid out.[6] After the division on the south of the river most of the land east of the village was owned by the Willes family and to the west by Matthew Wise. To the north of the river most of the land was owned by the Willes family, the Earl of Warwick, and Bertie Greatheed.[6] The main landholders of the village and adjacent land were the Earl of Aylesford, and a number of smaller landowners.[6] In the following decades some of the land was sold.[6] By 1901, the population of Leamington had grown from a few hundred to nearly 27,000.[7]


In 1814, the Royal Pump Rooms and Baths were opened close to the River Leam.[4] This grand structure attracted many visitors, expecting cures by bathing in pools of 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 became a popular spa resort attracting the wealthy and famous, and construction began of numerous Georgian townhouses to accommodate visitors, and a town hall was built in 1830.[2]

With the spread of the town's popularity, and the granting with a 'Royal' prefix in 1838 by Queen Victoria, 'Leamington Priors' was renamed 'Royal Leamington Spa'. Queen Victoria had visited the town as a Princess in 1830 and as Queen in 1858.[4] A statue of Queen Victoria was almost destroyed by a German bomb during World War II, and was moved one inch on its plinth by the blast. The statue was not returned to its original position, and the incident is recorded on a plaque on its plinth.

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, in 1875 the Royal Pump Room Gardens were opened to the public, and in 1890 a further swimming pool was added. The economy of Leamington decreased towards the end of the 19th century following the decline in popularity of spa towns, and it became a popular place of residence for retired people and for members of the middle-class who relocated from Coventry and Birmingham, and wealthy residents led to the development of Leamington as a popular place for shopping.[7] In 1997, the owners of the building, the district council, closed the facility for redevelopment, reopening it in 1999 as a culture centre. It now contains Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, a library, a tourist information centre, refurbished assembly rooms and a cafe.[8] Spa water can still be sampled outside the building.

Leamington is closely associated with the founding of lawn tennis. The first tennis club in the world was formed in 1872 by Major Henry Gem and Augurio Pereira who had started playing tennis in the garden of Pereira.[9] It was located just behind the former Manor House Hotel and the modern rules of lawn tennis were drawn up in 1874 in Leamington Tennis Club.

During the Second World War, Leamington was home to the Free Czechoslovak Army; a memorial in the Jephson Gardens commemorates the bravery of Czechoslovak parachutists from Warwickshire.


Governance

Leamington Spa is a town and civil parish in the Warwick District Council, an administrative division of the county of Warwickshire. Since 2002 the parish has been represented at the lowest tier of local government by its Town Council.[10] Between 1875 and 1974 Leamington was a municipal borough.[11] As part of the 1974 local government reform it was merged with Warwick, Kenilworth and Whitnash, and surrounding rural areas into the Warwick District, which has its offices in Leamington. Leamington is part of the parliamentary constituency of Warwick and Leamington. From the 1997 general election until the 2010 general election the constituency was represented in parliament by James Plaskitt (Labour). It had previously been a Conservative safe seat, including as its MP, Anthony Eden a former British prime minister. At the 2005 general election, James Plaskitt had a majority of just 266 votes, making it a marginal seat. In the 2010 general election the seat returned to the Conservative party, with Chris White winning the seat by 3,513 votes.

Geography


Leamington is divided by the River Leam running east to west, which is susceptible to flooding in extreme weather, with especially heavy floods in 1998 and 2007.[12][13]


The town has several parks and gardens,[14] including the Jephson Gardens, close to the Royal Pump Rooms and next to the River Leam. These were seriously damaged in the floods of 1998, but have been restored and improved with funding from the National Lottery. The other side of the River Leam, on Priory Terrace features the "Elephant Walk" 19th-century slipway down to the river located near the suspension bridge in Jephson Gardens. It was specifically constructed so that circus elephants in winter quarters in Leamington could be watered.[15] Other parks are the Mill Gardens on the opposite bank of the river to Jephson Gardens, Victoria Park, the Royal Pump Room Gardens, The Dell and Newbold Comyn which includes the nature reserves Welches Meadow and Leam Valley.[16]

The road running through the town centre is the Parade (formerly Lillington Lane until 1860).[2] The shopping street contains high street chains and a covered shopping centre.

Buildings in the town include a variety of Georgian and early Victorian architecture, and listed buildings such as the Grade II listed Lansdowne Crescent in neo-classical style, designed by William Thomas between 1835 and 1838.[17]

Amongst the Anglican churches in Leamington is the Gothic All Saints Church. There is also a Catholic church, a United Reformed church, a small mosque and a Hindu temple. In 2009, the Sikh community built the Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and Warwick in Warwick which also serves Leamington.[18][19]

In August 2010, a Warwickshire Justice Centre was opened in Newbold Terrace, Leamington Spa. As well as a police station, the complex houses the Magistrates' Court, Crown Court, County Court, and other agencies such as the Probation Service and Victim Support.[20] It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 4 March 2011.[21]

An oak tree just to the northeast of the town centre is marked by a plaque stating that it commemorates the Midland Oak, a tree that grew near the spot and was reputed to be at the centre of England.

Suburbs

The town has enveloped the older village of Lillington. Other suburbs include New Milverton, Campion Hills and Sydenham to the southeast. It holds Lillington school.

Economy

Tourism

The popularity of the town's waters in the 19th century led to the town's initial growth, making tourism Leamington's primary industry in the 19th century.[22]


Retail

In the town centre there are a variety of shops from high street chains to independent retailers, plus an indoor shopping centre the Royal Priors. The out of town retail park is called the Leamington Shopping Park (formerly The Shires Retail Park).[23]

Manufacturing

Tourism was initially driven by the spring waters. The arrival of the Warwick and Napton Canal (later amalgamated into the Grand Union Canal) officially opened in 1799 as the primary means of cargo transport and led to growth in other industries until rail gradually took over in the mid 19th century,[22] The canal supplied coal to the gasworks on Tachbrook Road, providing gas to light the town from 1835. 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 around 1925, was subsequently taken over by Ford, casting engine blocks until its closure in 2008.[22] The prominent car parts manufacturer Automotive Products based in the south of the town grew from a small garage to occupy a large site. Throughout the 20th century, while tourism took a downturn, Automotive Products expanded and built a factory in the South of the town in 1928 that is still operative in 2009, although on a much smaller scale.[22] Karobes Limited, with its headquarters in Queensway, was one of Britain's major suppliers of accessories for cars between World War II and the 1970s.

Commercial parks for service providers and light industry and offices are primarily located to the south of the town: Althorpe Street Industrial Estate, Queensway Trading Estate, Shires Gate Trading Estate and Sydenham Industrial Estate.

Digital media and the video games industry

Leamington Spa and the surrounding area, known as Silicon Spa,[24][25] is a significant global centre for the games industry,[26] with a higher than average proportion of digital media companies involved in games development and publishing,[27] with an estimate of over a thousand games developers.[24] Companies based in or around the town include Caperfly,[24] DNA Interactive, Fish in a Bottle, FreeStyleGames, Full Fat, Kwalee, Pixel Toys,[24] Playground Games, Red Chain Games,[28] Stickman Studios,[29] and Supersonic Software. Codemasters are based in the countryside outside Leamington and were the initial impetus behind the cluster and provided many of the staff for the companies in Leamington.[30] In 2013, Sega's mobile platform studio Hardlight Studio[31] set up in Leamington, and Exient[32] opened a satellite studio. Former companies were Blitz Games Studios, Bigbig Studios and Titus Software UK Limited.[33]

Education

There are a number of schools either located within Leamington, or which include Leamington in their priority (catchment) area. Those within Leamington include the state secondary schools of North Leamington School, Campion School, Trinity Catholic School, and the independent schools of Arnold Lodge School, a co-educational school for pupils aged 3 to 15, and Kingsley School, a school for girls. Myton School in Warwick, although located just outside Leamington, includes parts of Leamington as being within its priority area.[34]

As well as these schools, Leamington children can attend Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls, a state run selective school, Warwick School, an independent school for boys, The King's High School for Girls, Warwick's twin school and Princethorpe College, a mixed independent school in the nearby village of Princethorpe.

Leamington is the location of the first of Warwickshire College's six sites, and additionally another site is located just outside the town. The closest higher education institutions are the University of Warwick, in south-western Coventry, and Coventry University.

Leamington is also home to two national educational charities - The Smallpeice Trust and The Arkwright Scholarships Trust. They specialise in making young people aware of how STEM fields studied in school can lead to fulfilling and exciting careers in science and engineering sectors of industry.

Culture

The Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum is located in the Royal Pump Rooms, in Parade.[35] There are several local community centres.

Peace Festival

Since 1978, the annual free festival and celebration of alternative culture called the Peace Festival has been held in the Pump Room Gardens.[36]

Music

Live music is provided by local bands in a variety of venues. In December 2005 the band Nizlopi from Leamington, reached Number 1 in the UK Singles Chart with The JCB Song.[37] The Woodbine Street Recording Studios has been used by several well-known music acts such as Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene and The Specials.[38] Classical music concerts are organised throughout the year in the Leamington and Warwick area, including the International String Quartet series at the Royal Pump Rooms.[39] The Assembly, is a 1,000 capacity music venue attracting national and international artists,[40] and was awarded 'Live Music Venue of the Year' at the 2010 Music Week Awards.[41] and the Leamington Spa Competitive Festival for Music Dance and Drama has been staged annually since 1910. There is a brass band called the Royal Spa Brass.

Theatre and cinema

Two theatres are located in Leamington: the Spa Centre and The Loft, with outdoor summer productions in Jephson Gardens. Leamington also has two cinemas: the Spa Centre and a multiplex.

Sport and leisure

There are a number of sports clubs and leisure facilities in Leamington Spa, including a Real Tennis court, 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 and Hockey Club, Royal Leamington Spa Canoe Club, and municipal tennis courts.

Popular culture

Leamington has been featured in a number of television series, including the 1990s BBC situation 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 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. In September 2010 scenes for a re-make of the series Upstairs, Downstairs were shot on Clarendon Square and in The Jephson Gardens. In Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, the Duke of Devonshire owns a house here, and offers it to Mr. Norrell as a place to set up a magic school upon the advice of the Earl of Liverpool.

Nearby places

The ancient town of Warwick lies adjoined directly to the west of Leamington, on the opposite bank of the river Avon, and with no natural border to the south-west. Whitnash is a smaller town contiguous with Leamington directly to the south. Cubbington is adjoined to the north-east. Just outside the town lie the villages of Old Milverton to the north and Radford Semele 2.5 miles (4 km) to the east.

Stratford-upon-Avon, famous as William Shakespeare's birthplace and the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, lies south-west from Leamington Spa along the Warwick Road (A439).

Compass

Climate

Leamington Spa experiences the oceanic climate which covers most of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Leamington Spa
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6
(42.8)
6.2
(43.2)
8.9
(48.0)
11.9
(53.4)
15.3
(59.5)
18.8
(65.8)
20.6
(69.1)
20.1
(68.2)
17.6
(63.7)
13.8
(56.8)
9.2
(48.6)
7.1
(44.8)
12.9
(55.3)
Average low °C (°F) 0.3
(32.5)
0.1
(32.2)
1.5
(34.7)
3.3
(37.9)
6
(42.8)
9.2
(48.6)
11.1
(52.0)
10.8
(51.4)
8.8
(47.8)
6.2
(43.2)
2.9
(37.2)
1.3
(34.3)
5.1
(41.2)
Precipitation mm (inches) 53
(2.1)
48
(1.9)
51
(2.0)
48
(1.9)
56
(2.2)
56
(2.2)
46
(1.8)
66
(2.6)
53
(2.1)
53
(2.1)
58
(2.3)
66
(2.6)
658
(25.9)
Source: [42]

Transport

People

Twin towns

Leamington is twinned with:

  • Sceaux, France (since 1969)
  • Brühl, Germany (since 1973)
  • Heemstede, Netherlands (since 1987)
  • Gomel, Belarus

Leamington has friendship agreements with:

See also

England portal

References

Further reading

External links

  • Royal Leamington Spa Town Council

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