History of Ripon Spa Baths captured as venue prepares for new lease of life

Historical photos have given a glimpse into the opening of Ripon Spa Baths 117 years ago ahead of the building being stripped out later this year.

The images show the spa baths in its full glory when it opened in 1905 and paint a contrasting picture of the current state of the venue which has suffered from years of neglect and damage.

Ripon-based Sterne Properties has revealed the photos as part of its plans to strip out the spa before giving it a new lease of life and community use in what will mark a new phase in the building’s rich history.

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The last English spa to be opened, the baths were originally served by spa water pumped from Aldfield, four miles away. The opening ceremony was held on 24 October 1905 and it is still the only spa to have been opened by a member of the Royal Family, Princess Henry of Battenberg.

How the baths used to lookHow the baths used to look
How the baths used to look

The swimming pool to the rear of the original building was added in the 1930s and has since hosted many happy memories across generations of families. The building’s time as a much-loved leisure venue came to an end last year though when it was closed down by Harrogate Borough Council ahead of the opening of Ripon’s new Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre named after the city’s Olympic diving hero.

Looking to the future, exactly what the Grade II-listed spa baths will be used for remains unknown. Sterne Properties said it must first understand what it is working with and the developers have examined photographs and historic records to see how the building has changed over time. However, the council has said that the building will “remain a city landmark” regardless of what it used for in the future.

Its proposals have been backed by Ripon Civic Society whose chairman Christopher Hughes said in a letter: “The society is in total support of this application. A visit by some of our members in 2021 revealed the prospect that more recent works are likely to have hidden original work. This will be important knowledge for the applicant to understand before further proposals are developed.”