Harrogate, a historical spa town in North Yorkshire, is less well known than York or Leeds, but very beautiful and well worth a visit. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the Northern rival to Bath (and is mentioned in Georgette Heyer’s Venetia and probably other Heyer novels as well), in contemporary times it’s also known for its convention centre and flower show.
If you’re German, you may remember Harrogate as the site of the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest, which was won by the German contestant Nicole with her song Ein bißchen Frieden (A little bit of peace). The 1982 Eurovision Song Contest was also remarkable for featuring a song so stunningly awful that it would be remembered for a long time, the Finnish entry Nuku Pommiin by Kojo, which placed last. To my own surprise, my adult self actually prefers Kojo to Nicole. Coincidentally, both the Finnish and the German songs were about the fear of nuclear war, which tells you a lot about the early 1980s. The presenter in the clips is not a Peter Davison era Doctor Who extra pressed into service, by the way, but BBC newsreader Jan Leeming.
And now for some photos:
A square in Harrogate with a church and a war monument and some lovely flowers
Betty's Tea Room, opened in 1919. I had a most delicious pastry called a Yorkshire Fat Rascal in there.
A side street with plenty of pubs and restaurants in Harrogate
The Turkish Baths in Harrogate, a Victorian spa complex that is still in operation
The Royal Pump Room, where the famous sulphurous spring water could once be drunken. Nowadays it's a museum.
Another view of the Royal Pump Room
Close-up of the wrought iron top of the Royal Pump Room
The Royal Hall, an Art Noveau ballroom and theatre. Interestingly enough, the inscription on the gable uses the German word "Kursaal" (spa hall).
The appropriately named Majestic Hotel
The Victoria Shopping Centre with some interesting statues on the roof.
Close up, the statues on the roof of the Victoria Shopping Centre turn out to be depictions of modern shoppers
Part of the Harrogate Exhibition Centre. This part is fairly new. The building where the Eurovision Song Contest was held in 1982 is behind this one and not visible (and not interesting enough to make the treck there and take a photo)
The cast iron roof of a Victorian bandstand and some cherry blossoms
Pavillion with a 19th century statue of Amor and Psyche
A planter and a round flower bed in one of the many parks in Harrogate
Crown-shaped planter in front of the Crown Hotel
Yet another park with a planter and flowers
Valley Gardens in Harrogate
A flower bed shaped like the white rose of Yorkshire at Valley Gardens
The sun pavillion at Valley Gardens in Harrogate and some daffodils
The boating lake at Valley Gardens in Harrogate with some remote controlled boats
Bog Field at Valley Gardens, where more than thirty springs provide sulphurous water to the spa visitors
A shady brook at Valley Gardens in Harrogate with some very interesting acquatic plants
A closer look at the acquatic plants at Valley Gardens. I have no idea what these plants are called.
*envious sigh* spring green in the UK…. awww.
Lovely to get more of an impression of Harrogate (I do wonder why they have that Kursaal bit up there – did you find out about that?), which I have also come across only in Georgette Heyer.
I hope you had a fairly relaxed Easter weekend, too.
According to the official website of the Royal Hall, the hall was modeled on the Kursäle found in many German spa towns, hence the German term. They changed the name during WWI. The site also has some pictures of the interior of the theatre, which I didn’t get to see, cause it was closed.
Besides, it seems that “Kursaal” was the generally accepted term for combined theatres/ballrooms/assembly halls in 19th century spa towns. The Royal Hall website has a page with vintage postcards of other “Kursäle” in France, Belgium, the UK and Egypt, amazingly.
I also came across this collection of vintage postcards of Harrogate, showing many of the same buildings I photographed more than a hundred years later.
Happy belated birthday, by the way. I hope you had a great birthday and Easter weekend.
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