Royal Pump Room Museum

Royal Pump Room Museum - photo by Juliamaud
Royal Pump Room Museum – photo by Juliamaud

We made our way to Harrogate for a weekend stay at The Old Swan Hotel. After settling in we went for a walk around the town and came across the Royal Pump Room.

The Royal Pump Room is a Grade II listed building. It was formerly a spa water pump house. Now it houses the town’s museum.

Harrogate’s water was discovered in the 16th century by William Slingsby in the area now known as High Harrogate. The spring, named the Tewit Well Spring, was found to be medicinal. By the late 1600s more springs, including the sulphur spring, in Low Harrogate had been discovered. 

At first visitors scooped up the water from the marshy earth, or put it directly onto their skin. However, with increasing numbers of visitors four wellheads were erected in 1772.

Harrogate became  known as “The English Spa” in the Georgian era. Accommodation and entertainment venues were built for the visitors through the Georgian period (1714-1830) and Victorian period (1837 – 1901). The Promenade Room, built in 1805 and remodelled in 1875, is now the Mercer Art Gallery.

Isaac Shutt built The Royal Pump Room in 1842. This grand octagonal building replaced an earlier building that had covered the popular Old Sulphur Well. At its peak, each summer the Pump Room attracted 15,000 people, including Tsarina Alexandra of Russia in 1911.

Treatment at the pump house - photo by Juliamaud
Treatment at the pump house – photo by Juliamaud

Specialist spa treatment establishments were later developed in the town such as the Victoria Baths (1871) and the Royal Baths (1897). The Royal Baths were designed to provide specialist hydrotherapy treatments to compete with other European spas.

Harrogate Royal Baths - photo by Juliamaud
Harrogate Royal Baths – photo by Juliamaud

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