"A Curious Little Town" Top 5 Page for this destination Royal Leamington Spa by antistar
Royal Leamington Spa Travel Guide: 109 reviews and 172 photos
Leamington will likely prove not as you expect it. It's not as affluent as its Royal pedigree suggests, nor as run down as its proximity to Coventry and the West Midlands might indicate. It's small, and sometimes deathly quiet, but it also has a large population of students from nearby Warwick University, giving it a very youthful character, and plenty of lively pubs to drink in. It isn't on most people's tourist map, and is often passed over for the nearby draws of Warwick and Stratford, but it has a very pretty town centre, and offers plenty of scenic walks. It generally feels good to live here.
Probably the best thing about the town is its eclectic, and often eccentric, mix of people. With such a diversity of people, the rich and the poor, the students and the locals, the sane and insane, and the strong ethnic background makes for a whole lot of dynamism. It also has its fair share of characters. I've only lived there on and off during my life, being constantly drawn back by good friends and its comforting nature, but I could be placed randomly in pretty much any part of the town centre, and have a tale to tell about wherever I was.
There's a strong musical bent to the town too, and most of the people I know in the town are involved in music in some way, or just have an acute interest. There was a time when Banco de Gaia was spinning his first few tunes in the local club, Bauhaus were recording their records in the town and drinking in my local bar, Chumbawamba were playing at the run down Bath Place community venture, and the lead singer of Napalm Death was there watching them and talking with me over a beer. The musical links continue to this day, although it feels as if the town is harking back to a golden era somewhat, and 40 year old djs seem to come to the town to retire with their decks.
Overall Leamington is a relaxed town, with enough decent bars, and one decent club, to keep you from going insane through boredom. It's pretty enough to make you smile to know you live there, and near enough to bigger cities like Coventry and Oxford to have an outlet should you need one, and only an hour and a half from London. Apart from the occasional street violence on a weekend, the only downside to living in the place is the price of housing. Rents in the nicest parts of town can rival London.
Leamington is a small town of around 42,000 people, but is part of a much wider urban sprawl, the administrative headquarters of which are at Warwick, the real beating heart of which is most definitely in Leamington. The population of this district, which includes the conjoining town of Warwick, and villages that are indistinguishable from Leamington itself, like Whitnash, makes up a population of about 125,000 people. In addition to that is the large number of Warwick University students who make Leamington their home every year, and a healthy, but not burdensome, seasonal tourist traffic.
The history of Leamington, the town, is very short. It was nothing but a village, known as Leamington Priors, until the spa water craze that hit Victorian England in the late 19th century. Leamington with its, quite disgusting, spa water, became a major attraction for wealthy Victorians. It was even visited by Queen Victoria herself, who gave it the stamp of approval, allowing Leamington to become one of only two towns in England allowed the Royal prefix. Leamington was henceforth officially known as Royal Leamington Spa, but it is commonly referred to as simply Leamington.
This Victorian heritage has left Leamington with a wealth of grandiose period Victorian and Georgian buildings, particularly in the north of the town. There's also a fine collection on Upper Holly Walk, approaching Newbold Common. There are wonderful walks to be had in the town, just soaking up the elegance of the town. One good walk would take you from Newbold Common, down Upper Holly Walk, turning into Jephson Gardens at the Spa Centre, exiting at the Pump Rumps, crossing Victoria Park and across the bridge, taking a right walking alongside the river Leam, and exiting at Adelaide Bridge.
After the Victorian boom period, Leamington was forever changed, and grew to dominate its more historically powerful neighbour, Warwick. Leamington has developed a strong retail sector, reflected in its excellent shopping facilities, of which the Royal Priors is the vanguard. The town also has many other key commercial interests, including being a major distribution centre for books and records; EMI has one of Europe's largest distribution warehouses based in the town.
This leaves Leamington as a healthy, living, town, which is easily the liveliest place in the whole county.
- Pros:Pretty, vibrant, and with a good mix of people.
- Cons:Expensive, occasionally violent at weekends, and small.
A short bus ride away (or long walk) is the beautiful old town of Warwick. This town was once one of the most important... more travel advice
A short walk outside the town's limits, through some beautiful countryside, are the ruins of Guys Cliffe. Like the... more travel advice
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