From: Spectator, 4 June 1932, p. 28


We publish on this page articles and notes which may help our readers in making their plans for travel. They are written by correspondents who have visited the places described. We shall be glad to answer questions arising out of the Travel articles pub- fished in our columns. […]

To-Day at Harrogate

MR. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN, practising what he has preached, is at present at Harrogate receiving treatment for gout. The statesmen of the past went to Carlsbad, Baden-Baden and other foreign spas, but we are learning to-day to make fuller use of our own national resources.

Our British habit of self-depreciation formerly led many to frequent foreign spas rather than those to be found in our own country. But this year, in the new conditions imposed by the world crisis, we shall be wise to study the advantages offered by such places as Harrogate, Bath, Buxton and the other spas, which, in respect of medicinal waters and hygienic conditions, compare so favourably with their rivals abroad. How many readers of the Spectator are aware of the following facts about Harrogate? There are eighty-six natural medicinal springs continuously rising from various parts of the town. The sheet anchor of the cure is the treatment with water that contains the sulphur, which is as valuable for internal cleansing as it was when administered by Mr. Wackford Squeers. But every treatment available on the Continent is to be obtained in Yorkshire, including the cure by the use of the famous “Fango”, or radio-active mud. The cost of three sulphur baths and drinking the waters is 12s. a week – not ruinous even in these hard times! The average cost of the more expensive treatment is 25s. a week. Three hundred years ago a skilled physician wrote that the Harrogate water “sheweth divers and sundry effects in evacuating the noxious humours.” In the twentieth century the Ministry of Health urges that spa treatment is of the highest value in curing rheumatic diseases.

Many, however, will go to Harrogate not for medical treatment, but for the “high” season that runs from Whitsuntide to October, in order to enjoy a really British holiday. I have stayed many times in this bracing town, which is a natural doorway to many of the most beautiful and interesting places in England. In about three hours can be reached by car either the North Sea at Flamborough Head, or the Irish Sea and Lake District. The moorlands, with their dales, their caves and their abundance of game, are near at hand. It is easy to leave after luncheon, have tea in some historic place like York, Fountains Abbey, Bolton Abbey or Knaresborough, and be back before dinner. The student of architecture can visit over 100 castles and monastic buildings that are within a short motor run, and the archaeologists can revel in an examination of no fewer than sixteen Roman Stations. The sportsman is equally fortunate. The golfer has three first-class links within a radius of three miles. The lover of a horse may gallop over the 200 acres of green common known as the “Stray”, that was declared for ever open by Parliament in 1770. For those who wish to hunt in the season there are two packs, the Bramham Moor, and the York and Ainsty, and the Hilton Beagles also hunt frequently in the neighbourhood.

But what of the days when the weather is unkind, or the evenings when both invalid and holiday maker seek for amusement? Let it be remembered that the Pennine Hills act as a shelter from the Atlantic rain, and that therefore Harrogate has a low rainfall. Nevertheless, there are plenty of attractions provided indoors from before breakfast until late at night. Music begins at 7.45 a.m. in the Pump Room or the Crescent Gardens, and continues all day. In the Royal Hall and elsewhere there are concerts and entertainments that will bear every comparison with those provided in Continental Casinos. The hotels provide a variety of accommodation, and recreation from dancing to badminton. The antique shops and book-shops are world famous. It is impossible to write about Harrogate without blowing the trumpet, and surely at this crisis in the world's affairs it is right that we should abandon our habit of self-depreciation and give praise where praise is due. Scientists, always prone to understate their case, agree that the medicinal waters to be found at Harrogate can work cures as magical as those of the Continent, effected amid amenities as delightful. For too long we have made a fetish of some of the Spas in Germany and elsewhere. During the coming months of 1932 it will be both patriotic and wise to follow the example of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and go, if suffering from gout, or seeking for a Yorkshire holiday, to the Queen of the Northern Spas.’

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.