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HISTORY2018-10-26T13:20:17+00:00

History…

The articles below contain interesting information about the history of The Duchy. Please click on each article to download a copy. Thanks to Richard Thomas for contributing these.

The Duchy from Windsor House

The Duchy was, and remains one of the finest residential areas in England and exceeds by far such imitations as Fulwith Mill Lane or Roundhay.
It is well worth us house owners having to negotiate the no-doubt irritating requirements of being in a conservation area. This was designed to protect its character. “The high hedges and mature trees within gardens give Duchy properties an Arcadian feel and a sense of privacy much prized by local residents”.
I believe this overall character to have achieved an area to be treasured rather than being “lawn-mowered” without and hoovered within” as Roundhay was once
described.

That Harrogate flourished sufficiently to be able to create and maintain this area is in the view of one well-known Harrogate enthusiast “entirely thanks to the beneficial influence of the Duchy of Lancaster whose association with Harrogate since 1372 has been the town’s greatest single piece of good fortune”.

What is this Duchy? It was created and maintained as a consequence of a desire by two fathers to create a benefit for their sons and by a son to protect his inheritance against all possible eventualities.

The original father was Henry III and was to provide for his youngest son, Edmund Crouchback, after the failure of a scheme to make him King of Sicily. The Earldom, based on the royal estates in Lancashire, was raised to a Duchy for Edmund’s grandson Henry of Grosmont by Edward III in 1351 with internal governing powers.

Edward III’s son John of Gaunt married Henry of Grosmont’s heiress-daughter and he was created Second Duke of Lancaster. He then did a deal in 1372 whereby he surrendered his “spare” Earldom of Richmond to his father in exchange for the Honour of Knaresborough which included the forest in which our area lies. The connection between the Duchy and Harrogate has remained intact since that time despite Richard II’s attempt to confiscate the estate in 1399 on the death of John of Gaunt, just after his dying speech about about “ This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,… this fortress built by nature for itself”.

John’s son was not pleased and deposed Richard to become Henry IV and settled his Duchy estate forever on whoever is monarch. The golden era of hunting through the forest gradually faded, to be replaced by more mercenary interests and the Stuart/Georgian Kings were keen to maximise any potential. Charles I sold the ancient deer parks within the forest to the City of London, who quickly re-sold Havarah Park to the Ingilbys at Ripley.

Whilst the Duchy retained ownership of the land, this was subject to tenancy rights of an increasingly agricultural scene. Pressure arose to move from farming common land to an individual enclosure. The Crown found itself an owner without the ability to derive income from the ownership. An interesting current example arose this summer, when the Duchy, as owners of the Stray, expended a considerable sum in filling in the redundant Sulphur Water storage tanks build below Christ Church Stray.

The Stray is the only remainder of widespread open common lands. It was left as such as part of the Enclosure of the Forest lands in 1778. The Crown did very well out of the enclosures. In exchange for hitherto valueless rights as lord of the soil, the King received 2,385 acres, including 240 acres on the west of Ripon Road between Irongate Bridge Road (now Cornwall Road) and Oak Beck. Now known as ‘The Duchy’, this former common brought substantial dividends to the Crown as well as giving the town a series of handsome streets named after Royal Dukes.

Whilst Queen Victoria used to travel incognito as the Countess of Lancaster, in October 1887 she fired the starting gun for the development of the Duchy.

The age of the builder had arrived.

By Richard Thomas

The age of the builder had arrived in the Harrogate Area a great deal earlier than the 1887 commencement of the Duchy Estate. The Duchy of Lancaster had been active in promoting building on its estate in the town for some considerable time.

In the summer of 1839 the Duchy identified a Mr Howgate as a suitable person to produce a plan for the development of Duchy lands at Low Harrogate, advising that it was not their intention themselves to build but to grant building leases to suitable applicants. This concept of ‘building leases’ is one which great landed estates have used to considerable effect and value. The Grosvenor Estate and other similar great estates in what is now Central London being useful examples.
The plan provided by Mr Howgate on 29th October 1839 envisaged building on the West side of Swan Road (then Swan Lane) between York Road and Well Hill; 8 houses were envisaged. This is the Eastern boundary of the Duchy Estate.
Thomas Shutt (who later designed the Pump Room) was Superintendent of Building at a fee of 2% of each building he inspected. His task was to ensure high Duchy standards.

The buildings, now known as Promenade Terrace, were constructed by a Mr Walker in the agreed position and form a very handsome and pleasant group. They are still mostly residences apart from the Studley Hotel and Orchid Restaurant. It is thought that the building of the terrace on a plinth was to protect the adjacent mineral wells.

The major part of the Duchy was constructed between 1891 and 1909. The builder selected for the building leases being David Simpson, who was instructed to commence at Ripon Road and build in a westwards direction. This is eloquently demonstrated by the Queen Victoria post box on Ripon Road at the eastern end of Duchy Road, when contrasted with the Queen Elizabeth II post box on Cornwall Road at the western end of Duchy Road.

The transformation of the area from mostly agricultural land resulted in disturbance of existing occupiers. I find it interesting that the description of the Metes and Bounds of the Borough in 1884 refer to ‘the South-West angle of an Occupation Road leading to Jenny Plain Farm, thence along the Southern fence of the said Occupation Road to the Ripon Road’. This Occupation Road is the Ripon Road end of Duchy Road up to Wood View, which lead to the farm on a site now known as The Long House on Kent Road.

The use of land at the West end of Kent Road and Duchy Road had been abandoned by Notice to Quit given by the Tenant to the Duchy in 1897. The tenant was
Harrogate Golf Club, which opened in June 1892. The course was described as being ‘very sporty with hazards consisting chiefly of hedges, ditches, wall,  coppices, gorse, fern banks, a quarry and Oak Beck. As the author of the 1991 history of the Club remarks ‘Sporty’ seems to have been an understatement.

The 9-hole course was the home of the club until 1897. A timber pavilion was created with a tin roof and Teas were obtainable from Miss White who lived in the cottage opposite. The Duchy, however, built a slaughter house close to the pavilion. In 1895 the Committee arranged for some cover and shelter for the offal cart and manure pit‘more particularly in the hot weather’.

In 1897 the Club abandoned the course and moved to their present location between Starbeck and Knaresborough. More suitable development then commenced on the area they had vacated.

By Richard Thomas

‘Affordable housing’ was not a phrase which would have had any credence or interest in Harrogate as it moved from the 19th to the 20th Century.

Once the Central Railway Station was opened on 1st August 1862, on the still open ground between High and Low Harrogate, it was truly claimed that it was the ‘the railway coming to Harrogate that made Harrogate, not Harrogate coming to the railway’. We were no longer solely a Spa but had commercial importance, Private Schools were established and it increasingly becomes attractive to residents in the West Riding. New houses on the Duchy Estate in 1899 were said to be a good class of house occupied primarily by Leeds/Bradford businessmen.

The origin of Harrogate Ladies’ College was as a boys’ school in Ripon Road about 1890, set up by a Mr G F Savery in a substantial stone building with a tower and battlements, near to the present Cairn Hotel. Behind the school was a playing field of considerable size, stretching to what is now Clarence Drive. In 1893 he decided to open a small school for girls in a building known as Dirlton Lodge on Ripon Road. He built the present Ladies’ College in 1904 and the school moved there on 17th May. It was said at the time to have ‘a very handsome exterior, surrounded by 8 acres of grounds, beautifully laid out’. Mr Savery died in 1905 and the boys’ school ceased to exist.

The site of the Cairn was a large V and Vichy douche, Newhiem, Turkish, Russian, Needle, Droitwich Brine, Pine Plunge and Shower; prices ranged from 6d to 3.6d. Customers were ferried from the railway station in a motor bus in far less time than the usual horse and carriage.
The housing on the new Duchy estate was provided with full services of gas, water and electricity. Gas supply was fully available 150 years ago, which may account for the on-going repair works at the present time. It was established At Rattle Cragg (New Park) in 1845. Electricity cam in 1897 and in 1900 the Corporation borrowed £10,000 for extensions at the Oakdale Electricity Station.

The Chief Engineer, speaking to the select committee of the Harrogate Water Bill in 1901 in the House of Lords, said ‘we have uses for water which very few other towns possess, the smallest cottage has its WC and a house of £17 or £18 rateable value has its bath. We have 2,867 baths, so that we are, what I might call, an exceptionally clean town.

The Bill secured Roundhill Reservoir above Masham, holding 60 million gallons drawn by an 18 mile pipe to Harlow Hill. It crosses Oak Beck on the bridge with iron railings upstream from Oakdale Bridge. All the original hotels were extended but a new class of really splendid hotel was required, to cope with the increasing international importance of the town and its aristocratic, royal and imperial visitors.

Queen Alexandra and her sister the Dowager Empress of Russia both stayed in Harrogate and the future and last Czarina. The Faberge Egg depicted in the last issue was the Czarevich Egg, presented to the last Czarina at Easter 1912 to celebrate the birth of her son. It was made of lapis-lazuli and was delivered on the 13th March to the Czar at the Palace of Livadia in the Crimea. It was confiscated by Kerensky’s provisional government and sold for 8,000 roubles in 1930
Harrogate’s building vigour was impressive when you recognise the achievements before 1914. The Royal Baths complex was opened by the Duke of Cambridge on 23rd July 1897 and in August 1898, 52,85 glasses of Spa Water were served.

The Hotel Majestic opened in 1900 and the Grand Hotel (now Windsor House) in 1903, at the same time as The Kursaal (now the Royal Hall). St Wilfrid’s Church commenced on the site of a tin Tabernacle in 1904 and was almost complete by 1914.

Its ‘calm dignified interior of restrained splendour’ inspired John Betjeman to write ‘Perp Revival ‘i the North’
O, I wad gang tae Harogate
Tae a kirk by Temple Moore,
W’i a tall choir and a lang nave …..

All these majestic buildings were well balanced by the quiet residences being built along-side them on the adjacent countryside.

By Richard Thomas

Haddon Hall, two miles South West of Bakewell, Derbyshire, is described by Simon Jenkins in his book ‘England’s Thousand Best Houses’, as ‘the most perfect English house to survive from the Middle Ages. It has none of Hardwick’s promiscuity or Chatsworth’s bombast. From the 15th Century to today, this cluster of warm stone buildings has lain in its valley, protected by a curtain wall and surrounding forest’.

This hall must have inspired David Simpson to create his own version of Haddon when he realised the potential of the natural setting of Oak Beck and the small plateau arising on its North bank. This site was vacated in 1897 by Harrogate Golf Club on their abandonment of the site. They had laid out their course in 1892 but decided to move out only 5 years later.

The buildings created on the Duchy Estate by the development of the area before the Great War, were initially of a fairly standard Victorian villa type, being stone and either detached or semi-detached or, occasionally, terraced. As the building advanced from East to West the houses became much more orientated towards the ‘Arts and Crafts’ style. There are many lovely examples of this across or adjacent to the Duchy, including the splendid tile-hung properties in Springfield Avenue.

Mr Simpson, however, clearly saw something in the romantic appearance of Haddon which made him want to emulate the Middle Ages and to make use of the castle potential of the plateau above Oak Beck. He also created his own ‘forest’ by an intensive tree planting operation.

I can recall the delightful interior with its wonderful woodwork and majestic fireplaces, as well as the splendid 3 bay South façade, which exactly matched the one at Haddon. The battlements around the roof were a complete replica of those still at Haddon.

He seems to have had an interest in this style of architecture, as amongst his building projects was the Westminster Arcade in Parliament Street, whose façade had distinct similarities with his grand fireplace in the main room of his castle.

He is described in Harrogate Council’s recent History of Grove Road Cemetery, as being ‘widely loved for his genial unflappability and respected for his business acumen’.

The wonderful future intended for the house was just part of his intentions, as he also envisaged a continuation of the golf club idea, which resulted in the building of Oakdale Golf Club just before the Great War.

The war caused dislocation to many plans and he vacated the house in 1916 when it became the Junior School for Harrogate Ladies’ College. They extended it considerably during their long years of occupation. These extensions were described to the Planning Enquiry for its demolition in 1977, as ‘having little architectural merit’ and ‘could be demolished without affecting the character of the main building or its setting’. By the time the house was officially inspected on 7th February 1977 the roof of the original house had had the lead removed and water was freely entering the building. Internally there had been many acts of
vandalism and nearly all useable fitments eg. doorsets, plumbing and electrical fitments had been removed. Much of the high quality joinery had warped or lost its finish and a number of areas of plaster ceiling had collapsed.

The last private owner of the house had abandoned it, despite having spent considerable time and money reclaiming it from its long school use. He had held a splendid ‘house warming’ party, complete with a band providing music in the Great Hall and a Mediaeval style buffet laid out on the Billiard table with a boar’s head with an apple stuffed in its mouth, suckling ig and a whole Sirloin of beef.

He also changed the name of the house from the simplicity of ‘Oakdale’ to ‘Oakdale Manor’.  Dowsett Engineering submitted an application for Listed Building Consent to demolish the building on 20th December 1976. The application was ‘called in’ by the Secretary of State, whose Inspector authorised the demolition. The Inspector was clearly not a romantic and unkindly described the house as pretentious and over-bearing.

My recollections of the place were of its romantic appearance amidst its woodland setting, with its turreted tower fully in view from Kent Road, arising from surrounding trees. David Simpson died on 15th January 1931 and so did not live to see the fate of his creation. He did, however, have a third Mayoralty (1922-1924) during which he was awarded the Freedom of the Borough.

Harrogate never had a Castle but the valley of Oak Beck has had two. One being built by John of Gaunt in Havarah Park and the other being ’Oakdale’ itself.
There are still a few portions of John of Gaunt’s remaining above the ground but of ‘Oakdale’ nothing remains except the majestic bridge needed to cross from Kent Road to the plateau and which form the entrance access to the ‘Manor’.

The magnificent materials used to construct ‘Oakdale’ have not been wasted as I am aware of the destination of several loads of material during the demolition. The fireplace went to Hull.

A lasting reminder of the treasure we have lost is the painting of ‘Oakdale’ depicted from the East in its lovely woodland setting, adjacent to the golf course at Oakdale and now in the possession of the Club, which Mr Simpson had spent considerable time and effort creating just prior to the Great War.

by Richard Thomas

Building for a wonderful future was embraced with enthusiasm in the period before 4th August 1914.

During this time ‘bigger and better’ appears to have been the guiding theme.

The Spa had become one of the most famous in the world and was thronged with what we would refer to nowadays as ‘A List’ celebrities.

In LAugust 1911 Queen Alexandra and her sister, the Empress Marie of Russia, motored through Harrogate and visited Princess Victoria at Cathcart House (adjacent to the Hotel du Vin).

Prince Christopher of Greece met King Manuel of Portugal for the first time when the Prince and his sister Marie were taking the cure and used to foregather in the Pump Room every morning before breakfast. ‘Although sulphur water imbibed in enormous quantities is not exactly a convivial beverage’ he got quite a lot of amusement out of the process. Marie was the sister of Andrew of Greece, ie the father of the Duke of Edinburgh.

To accommodate these grand visitors the hotel industry went into over-drive with the gargantuan Hotel Majestic opening on 18th July 1900 and on 22nd May 1943 the Grand Hotel on the Duchy Estate with 5 domes each covered with gold leaf.

The Grand, now Windsor House, was opened about the same time as the Kursaal, now the Royal Hall.

The foundation stone of the Kursaal was laid by the great builder of the Duchy Estate, David Simpson, in his second Mayoralty.

The builder was at his apogee, nearing completion of the Duchy using stone quarried from Birk Crag and creating a magnificent mansion for himself in 1902, named Oakdale, on the North bank of Oakdale Beck and inspired by the wonderful South façade of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire. This house was renamed, as recently as the 1970’s by its last private owner‘Oakdale Manor’. He purchased helped by the sale of his nightclub business to Mecca.

The Planning Department in 1977 considered it to be an example of wealthy middle classdomestic taste with a richly decorated interior and fine quality workmanship.

Mr Simpson resided there for only 12 years, when the outbreak of the Great War caused him to vacate. He also ceased quarrying stone from Birk Crag. The final mounds of debris from the last days of workings can still be seen alongside the middle path from Cornwall Road. Mr Simpson’s eldest son, 2nd Lieutenant J M Simpson was killed in action on 9th May 1916.

Prince Christopher of Greece’s sister Marie, HIH Grand Duchess George of Russia and her daughter remained in Harrogate after the outbreak of war, as they were unable to return overland through Germany and the Grand Duke would not hear of their running the gauntlet of the submarines and the mine-sown coast. ‘You are much better off in England and the war won’t last for ever’ her wrote. Revolution swept over Russia and after a while his letter stopped.

George was arrested by the Bolsheviks in St Petersburg and imprisoned for seven months before being lined up with fellow Grand Dukes outside the fortress of St Peter and St Paul and shot.

The Grand Duchess, known to her family as Minnie, decided to be useful. She started a 28 bed hospital for wounded soldiers in Duchy Road, called St George’s, which soon had to be replaced with 3 larger house hospitals elsewhere in the town. She catered for over 1,200 casualties during the war.

After the war she returned to Greece (she was the daughter of King George of Greece) and married a Greek Admiral. She erected a small monument where Wetherby Road leaves the Stray in commemoration of those who died in her hospital.

At the outbreak of the war a camp for recruits was set up under canvas on a purely supposedly temporary basis, where Uniake Barracks now stand.

This site, no doubt, was chosen partly because Queen Ethelburga’s School (built in 1910) had provided itself with a magnificent sewerage system to which the camp was to be connected. The private Harrogate Rifle Club had built itself a splendid rifle range on Oakdale Farm to fire across Oak Beck to targets on Birk Crag. This also came in useful.

Ackrill’s War Souvenir Editions during the Great War depict poignant photographs of those killed or wounded during the war and identifies many with their home addresses, including a Captain from Brunswick Drive, a 2nd Lieutenant from Rutland Road and a private soldier from Ripon Road.

That beautiful book ‘The Exquisite Burden’ by A A Thompson, which is set in pre-war Harrogate, thinly disguised as ‘Nidvale’, refers to the train leaving the station platform for the war ‘Eight Old Boys, young and quick and eager, running into the long dark tunnel. In the hall of Nidvale Grammar School hangs a gilt-lettered board. It tells that only one of that carriage load came back’.

The revelation of the financial fraud of Charles Hattery in 1929, coupled with the collapse of the Wall Street financial world, disturbed Britain’s economy and led to a great recession. The town was affected by this and perhaps particularly those whose businesses were in Leeds/Bradford, where many of the residents of the Duchy Area worked and from whence they derived their income.

After their working day they would return home to their houses in Clarence Drive, York Road, Duchy Road etc.

According to ‘British Townscapes’ by Ewart Johns in 1965, these houses ‘may be thought of as either large and very individual versions of picturesque cottages or small samples of Romantic Villas’.

They ‘are built in a fine gritstone, the sombre grey of which is relieved by the liberal use of decorative window frames, doorways and porches’.

In the 1920’s there had been a considerable revival of building activity. Many of the new properties had been built with brick and pebble-dash in contrast to the pre-war stone. There are three splendid inter-war houses in particular. The western end of Kent Road has a lovely example and two highly individual houses were built in Oakdale itself, which remained largely undeveloped until after the Second War.

Another treasure from the period is St Wilfrid’s, which was conceived to be ‘exceeding magnific’ and was greatly enhanced in 1935 with the Lady Chapel. This is an elongated octagon, demarcated by slender shafts, by the architect Temple Moore’s son-in-law Leslie Moore.

About the same time Frances Darlington created the Twelve Stations of the Cross plaques, which reflect the artistry of the period.

The recession affected many people in various ways. The practice of early morning water drinking at the Pump Room ceased to be ‘fashionable’ and the chains erected to keep road traffic away from the drinking area were removed. Wesley Chapel in Oxford Street, who had 20 applicants for the post of Chapel Caretaker in 1929, had 439 applicants when they required a replacement in 1936.

The Council sought to keep abreast with the then current developments for spa treatments and they purchased land at the rear of the Royal Baths with plans to construct a massive new treatment centre with a replacement for the Winter Gardens, known as the Lounge Hall. This was opened in 1938 only to be blighted by the outbreak of War in the following year. The Valley Gardens were enhanced by the Sun Pavilion and Colonnade in 1933, opened by the distinguished medical man, Lord Horder.

Land purchases also included the Harlow Moor estate from the Earl of Harewood, which produced Harlow Moor Road and opened the Duchy Area. Hitherto the Duchy was virtually an island bounded by open land on the West, Oak Beck on the North and the Water Company/ Royal Baths on the South. There had been no through road to the Otley Road area.

The Harewood Estate have gradually diminished their land ownership as they sold Oakdale Farm in 1926 and, perhaps about the same time, the Cornwall Road fields to the Duchy of Lancaster. This area is now under threat of development by that Duchy. The boundary between the Duchy and the Harewood estate had been Cornwall Road itself as determined by the 1770 Enclosure of the Forest.

The Duchy Residents’ Association have applied for those Cornwall Road fields to be designated ‘Green Space’. If this is not accepted then its previous description as a Special Landscape Area needs to be stoutly defended. To be able to view Beamsley Beacon and the distant moorland is a wonderful advantage to the area.

Amongst the Spa towns which were visited by the Council representatives to gather ideas to improve our Spa industry was Vichy in central France. Both Harrogate and Vichy were utilised for rather similar purposes during the Second War, which commenced with such devastating effect in 1939.

Practically all the great hotels and many other properties were requisitioned, to startling effect. I recall the large house at the junction of Rutland Drive/Duchy Road being in Army occupation with an old tank in its then adjacent field. Harrogate Ladies’ College was vacated and the school moved to Swinton Castle for the duration of the war. The school building became the Ministry of Munitions. The Old Swan was part of the Air Ministry, the Grand the Empire Pilots’ Receiving School. The Cairn Hotel was taken by the Post Office, along with the St. George and Southlands, also on Ripon Road.

The iron railings with which Harrogate and the Duchy abounded were all removed to provide scrap metal for the War effort and large parts of the Civil Service were evacuated to Harrogate, which was code-named Zeta-Alpha for the purpose of this operation.

In 1940 three bombs were dropped on the Hotel Majestic and nearby houses in Swan Road. The Spa world had vanished indeed and Vichy itself received a French Government of ‘Unoccupied France’ – who found their Spa hotels equally useful!

When the Great War ended on 11.11.11 Harrogate awoke to the realisation that the pre-war aristocratic world, for which many of our great buildings were constructed, had changed for ever.

The Harrogate Medical Society was a powerfully minded ‘action group’ who wasted no time in prodding the Town Council into action.

Many of the medical men lived in the Duchy, which itself is close to the Spa area. Residents included the splendidly named Mr C D’Oyly Grange OBE at 3 Clarence Drive, three Doctors Rutherford at 12 York Road, two further medical men in York Road, two in Swan Road and further clusters in Ripon Road and Springfield Avenue.

In September 1919 they recommended better ways of dealing with patients at the Royal Baths, more lavatories, controlling the fees of taxi drivers and also several matters in which we are still interested today, such as better road surfacing and better rail connections.

There was clearly no interest whatsoever in prescribing to a pill popping population and ‘The Cure’ in all its pre-war splendour was what they required.
The Council embarked on some serious development. In 1921, close to our own area they demolished the houses on Well Hill, ie on the left of Cornwall Road.

This resulted in a much more pleasing entrance being created for the Valley Gardens. The gardens were further enhanced by the gracious sun colonnade and the Sun Pavilion in 1933.

In 1924 many of the 89 medicinal wells were re-constituted in bedrock and most were piped to the Royal Baths’ magnificent central hall (now a Chinese Restaurant) and the gardens  surrounding the wells were laid out in much their present form. A bowling green and miniature golf and putting greens were created.

In the inter-war period the town continued to be the leading spa and made a small profit, unlike Bath, Cheltenham and Llandrindod Wells, probably due to the varied and up-to-date treatments available at Harrogate.

‘The Mecca of the Ailing’ was still able to produce the goods but diversification was required to ensure that we were also ‘The Playground of the Robust’. This phrase appears in a booklet produced by the Royal Baths’ Director, Mr Broome.

Tennis was a big contributor to this image and several of the Duchy’s larger houses had their own courts. The Council built ‘en tout cas’ courts in the Valley Gardens to create an additional facility to those in the already in the Royal Hall Rose Gardens. The Davis Cup was played there in 1926. My great aunt’s 1929 diary records the Royal Show being on the Stray during July 1929. In those days the Show circulated round the country. The Great Yorkshire Show likewise, circulated around the whole of Yorkshire until after the Second War, when it settled in Harrogate.

Oakdale Golf Club was also a splendid location for the robust and the social. My mother won a gold medal there in the 1930’ and her diary records many Friday night dances.

Duchy people were only too happy to be sociable and did not confine themselves to their immediate area. I have recorded a recollection of the importance of The Sports Club in Firs Road as a regular sporting and social venue. This was managed by two splendid ladies, Pill and Moira O’Kelly. My mother also records winning the 1929 Doubles at the Wayside Gardens Tennis Club. Another memory is of a West Riding wool spinner who inhabited one of the larger Duchy houses and who would, on a Saturday, regularly advise his friends that he would be opening a bottle of champagne at noon.

Later in the day the population may have resorted to the Cinema. Many of these were built individually in the town, in contrast to the present concept of several screens in one building. The Central Cinema arrived in 1920 (now the Oxford Street end of Marks & Spencer) and The Scala in Cambridge Street (later re-named The Gaumont). The Regal was built adjacent to St Peter’s Church in 1937 on the site of the original St Peter’s School. A great deal of housing was constructed between the wars, including the Oakdale housing estate, built by the Council on the slope of Jenny Plain in Ripon Road. This location was not
so affected by the smell from the Retort House and oxide beds as were the row of brick houses built by the Gas Company on to their Retort House, facing on to Ripon Road. They had no rear doors or rear windows and had a cast iron plaque proclaiming ‘GASVILLE TERRACE’. One old lady who lived there for 50 years said that ‘she never noticed the smell’.

Up the hill the completion of St Wildrid’s church proceeded apace under the care of Leslie Moore (son in law of Temple Moore the architect, who had died at the end of the Great War). In 1932 an inheritance from Mr W Gunn enabled the Gunn Memorial Hall to be built with a famous German Modernism ‘Lamella’ roof. The hall is panelled in limed oak and is joined to the church by a cloister.

Harrogate’s visitors and the town’s capacity to respond to their requirements took a severe knock when a panic on the New York Stock Exchange in October 1929 set off a great international economic crisis.

The visitors to the Spa for the three week ‘cure’ began to have other things on their minds than the efficacy of the waters upon their constipation and the many diseases which a revered medical man, Sir Arbuthnot Lane, said were produced by the complaint.