How similar are Leamington Spa and Weston-super-Mare?

We visited Royal Leamington Spa for a couple of days and at first sight, this magnificent town seems very dissimilar to our little (but growing town of Weston-super-Mare. However as we wandered around,  being tourists, I began to think that in some ways the two  It might be difficult to spot, I thought as we walked along the broad elegant Regency streets, with the lovely parks, the spa baths, and old bridges crossing the River Leam; however, Weston has some elegant Regency buildings, some very lovely parks, old bath houses now, of course exclusive apartments with a magnificent sea view, and instead of the River Leam, the sea itself – the Bristol Channel with views across to Wales, and down the Somerset coast to Devon.

Although there have been people living in the Leamington area, along the Leam since Norman times, and before that the Romans enjoyed the hot springs, it was only in the late 1700’s that the Spa was managed to become a tourist attraction, the Pump Rooms opened in 1814, and soon after, in the 1820’s building began – building to create the magnificent townhouses we can still see now.

Similarly there have always been people living around what was Glentworth Bay and is now Weston Bay, since earliest times, back to when the area was marshy littoral, fishing keeping animals, farming the drier areas, building hill forts in the Bronze and iron Age. The Romans were also in Weston, a temple was built on the promontory of Brean Down, across the River Axe but facing across the bay. In the same era as Leamington was developing its health giving spa, sea bathing was becoming fashionable in Weston and in 1820 John Howe of Bristol, opened his bath house which had hot and cold salt water baths, lodgings for invalids, and with an eye to more profit from the healthy tourists, tea and coffee rooms and a reading room. In 1830 Dr Edward Long Fox who was a revered and well-known Quaker and physician from Bristol, a real pioneer in the humane treatment of the insane, began to send his patients to the Weston ‘spa’.  He took it over and as well as constructing an exercise area, he had fresh and salt water, hot and cold vapour, showers, sulphur and other medicated baths.

Weston is blessed with many parks, most dating back to Victorian times, most of them beautifully maintained and with some elegant structures, band stands and tea rooms for example, which sadly frequently fall prey to vandals. Grove Park, Alexandra Parade Gardens, the 1842 Ellenborough Park (which is an SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest, due to the range of plant species there)  , Clarence Park, Ashcombe Park, and other, smaller green spaces.

Leamington’s parks are on a much grander scale, for example –

First laid out in 1831 as informal riverside walks in Leamington, the original Newbold Gardens were developed as more formal pleasure grounds after 1846 in honour of Dr Henry Jephson, who had promoted the town as a spa. The Jephson Gardens gained renown for their entertainments, military bands, promenading, croquet and tennis, fountains, illuminations, trees and flowers. They are listed as Grade II on the English Heritage register of historic parks and gardens.

… but also the Victoria Gardens and the Pump Room Gardens, among others.

Leamington is renowned for its elegant and magnificence architecture; Weston has some secret and hidden gems, sadly some of which are in quite a sorry and neglected state, and I don’t think many visitors would come her to seek them out!

Weston is now somewhat of a dormitory town with a population over 80,000 and rising. Visitors come to Weston to visit the town, it’s not on the way to anywhere else. Leamington has a population of over 56,000 people and being in the Midlands, plenty of visitors can come and drive on to somewhere else. I’m not sure many people would see the similarities in the two towns, but I did!

 

9 Comments

  1. Andrew Petcher

    I grew up in Rugby so on an afternoon out Leamington always made a nice change for the really big tourist towns of Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. Leamington centre is nice but there are some rough bits on the periphery but I suppose that is true of most places. Nearby Kenilworth is also good for a visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      We noticed a lot of people sitting in blankets asking for money, but I guess that happens everywhere these days. I’ve never been to Kenilworth although I’ve flashed past it often enough! I must visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. david lewis

    We don’t have people sitting on blankets here because it’s -40 C. Our Leamington in Canada was famous for Heinz ketchup until they shut the plant down and I remember driving thru and a lot of the streets were red from the tomatoes falling off the trucks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      The people I mentioned are beggars, we have so many on our streets these days… for many different reasons… I guess -40 C would be fatal for them. It’s terrible to have so many homeless people on our streets… I never saw it when i was young

      Like

  3. david lewis

    Why is it that a lot of Poles and Lithuanians come to England to work as farm labor while English men are begging and sleeping rough.Here in Canada the government created winter works programs to keep people working when construction slowed, They earned decent money and kept there families and there pride. Chronic beggars should be forced if there health is good. I remember you working on the hops harvest and it didn’t hurt you any. Your legs looked better and you had some jingle in your pockets!

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    1. Lois

      A lot of the beggars have mental health issues – and a lot of those are ex-servicemen suffering from various difficulties. Also there is a real housing crisis and when families split up sometimes one partner of the other can’t afford accommodation… or they lose their job… it’s a difficult and complex situation. There are women and men and young people sleeping rough, and although for some it’s a life-style choice, I think most are very sad cases… what a world we live in! So much wealth for some!

      Like

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