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Royal Pump Rooms

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The Royal Pump Rooms is a Grade II listed building on the Parade in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England. It was the most famous of several spa baths opened in Leamington between the late-18th and mid-19th centuries. People would travel from throughout the country, and indeed Europe, to benefit from treatments using the town's healing waters. When 'taking the waters' became less fashionable after the mid-19th century the Pump Rooms became Leamington's only surviving spa facility, later also being extended to include the town's public swimming pool. After a major redevelopment in 1997-99 the building now houses Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, a public library, a Tourist Information Centre, cafe and assembly rooms.
By the time that a spring had been found at the site of the rooms in 1811 Leamington already had a reputation as an up-and-coming spa resort. Five wells had been discovered south of the River Leam in and around the village. The influx of tourists to bathe in these springs and 'take the waters' had led to speculators developing land to the north of the river. It was decided by these men that they needed to find a spring on their side of the river so that they could erect a suitably grand building to match the town they aimed to develop. The sixth spring was found in 1811 on the land of Mr Bertie Greatheed and the architectural work was passed to local man C.S. Smith . The building named The New Pump Rooms and Baths was opened three years later in July 1814. Within months of opening however the baths proved so popular that the building needed to be extended. The building was finally complete two years later in 1816. Including the wings at the north and south end the building was 166 feet long with 17 hot baths and 3 cold baths. The total development cost was a fraction under £18,000. One of the most interesting, although not at the time most famous or notable, parts of the development were the pumps which were manufactured by the engineering giants Boulton and Watt of Smethwick, Birmingham. Although some individuals expressed reservations about the baths, most notably a doctor who claimed that the healing waters could be contaminated by soiled river water, the baths were a huge success with visitors including some of the most famous people of the time.


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