Nostalgia: Spa town makes a splash

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No, we haven’t superimposed a picture of some people sitting in a park with one of modern day Harrogate...

...in fact, the people in the original black and white image was taken on Valley Drive, Harrogate in the 1950s.

BLEND: David Clay

BLEND: David Clay

In the blended picture, a car-lined Valley Drive rises in the background.

The town was famous at the time for its springs. Taking the waters was fashionable for both young and old. Harrogate spa water contains iron, sulphur and common salt. The town became known as ‘The English Spa’ in the Georgian Era.


Harrogate is famous for its horticulture, historic buildings, stunning scenery and natural springs. Set in the heart of Yorkshire, the Harrogate District is one of the most spectacular areas of England with attractive towns and villages, imposing historic houses, castles, abbeys, beautiful countryside and a host of other natural and man-made attractions.



The name dated back as far as 1332. By 1399 Harrogate became Royal property when the possessions of the Duchy of Lancaster merged with the English Royal Crown. It was in 1571, however, that the first mineral well was discovered.

People flocked to Harrogate, believing its waters and geographical position, being surrounded by lots of open countryside, to be a natural antidote to the smogs associated with nearby Leeds and Bradford and other cities. Hoteliers and the like were quick to seize their opportunity to cash in on the trend.

In 1897 The Royal Baths was opened to offer spa treatments and hydrotherapy to visitors. Today, the Turkish Baths is all that is left of the working spa.

However, the popularity of the spa dwindled after the onset of the First World War, forcing the town to re-invent itself. From the 1940s, it became known as a conference centre.