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The Turkish baths at Royal Leamington Spa's Royal Pump Rooms closed towards the end of the 1970s when the financial loss incurred in continuing them became difficult to justify. The remainder of the baths complex closed a decade or so later in 1989. By the mid 1990s the Turkish baths suite was in an increasingly bad state of repair, parts of it being in such bad condition that demolition appeared to be the only solution. Fortunately, however, when a new museum and library complex was planned for the site, it appeared feasible to retain the structure of the cooling-room. This has now been beautifully restored as closely as possible to the original design.

But some treatments, such as that carried out in the Plombières Treatment Room (illustrated below) in the 1930s, are no longer practised, and the museum team has sometimes found it difficult to determine what some of the antiquated equipment was used for.

Plombières Treatment Room

< Photo: W Hammond, from the 1930 Official handbook

In 2004 the museum received an £1,800 grant from the West Midlands regional Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to investigate such matters as the history of Leamington's use of its Turkish baths and of treatments such as colonic irrigation which were available at the Royal Pump Rooms. The grant was also used to catalogue the remaining items of equipment and prepare them for display.

Alison Plumridge, Senior Curator of the museum, was delighted that the project was supported by the MLA. 'It is vital for us,' she said, 'to record this part of local history.'

Let us hope that where Leamington has paved the way, others will follow.

This page last updated 24 September 2016
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