British Medical Journal, 19 July 1919, (abridged)


While English physicians were pioneers in the medical uses of water, the science of hydrology was for many years studied and developed mainly on the continent of Europe, and British spas, though they possess unrivalled natural advantages, fell out of fashion. Great ingenuity and commercial acumen, and no little scientific skill, were employed in pushing the mineral water stations of Germany and Austria, with the result that before the war the habit of visiting foreign health resorts was firmly established among certain classes in this country. Now for five years the German and Austrian spas have been closed to British invalids; moreover, stringent restrictions were placed by the Permit Office upon those wishing to visit such French and Italian spas as remained open. In consequence, more and more attention has been directed towards the neglected merits of British spas. At the same time the needs of the wounded awakened an active interest in physical remedies, and the leading British spas have provided remedial baths and kindred forms of treatment for immense numbers of military patients. Another useful outcome of the war has been the linking up of the seven principal home spas – Bath, Buxton, Cheltenham, Droitwich, Harrogate, Llandrindot Wells and Woodhall into the British Spa Federation. […]

      Powerful waters and many sorts of baths will not suffice unless attention is given to the whole course of the visitor’s life in the spa, including his dietary. In this respect there is still a good deal to be learnt from our late enemies, and if British spas are to come into their own the lesson must be applied promptly. […]

      In order to make the best use of its mineral waters the Harrogate Corporation […] has spent nearly a quarter of a million pounds on the provision of modern bathing establishments. Besides the local sulphur water baths, apparatus for almost every approved balneological and electrical treatment has been set up […]. At the Royal Baths more than seventy different baths, packs, douches, massage-douches, electrical treatments, and accessory treatments are given by trained attendants. […] More than twenty years ago Dr Charles Gibson claimed in these columns that the reputation of Harrogate rested upon a solid foundation [...]. From personal observation this summer we are satisfied that Harrogate has well maintained its progress since those lines were written.’

This site has been conceived in conjunction with the HERA-funded research project The European Spa as a Transnational Public Space and Social Metaphor. Conception: Astrid Köhler, Text © Astrid Köhler and Karen Southworth, Design © Jana Riedel.