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Traffic lights, Kings and Crescent Roads, Harrogate - geograph.org.uk - 849804.jpg
Parliament street, Harrogate
Harrogate 1974 arms.png
Arms of the Harrogate Borough Council
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Location within North Yorkshire
OS grid reference SE303550
  London 180 mi (290 km)  SSE
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district HG1, HG2, HG3
Dialling code 01423
Police North Yorkshire
Fire North Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament
Website http://www.harrogate.gov.uk/
List of places
53°59′31″N01°32′16″W / 53.99194°N 1.53778°W / 53.99194; -1.53778 Coordinates: 53°59′31″N01°32′16″W / 53.99194°N 1.53778°W / 53.99194; -1.53778

Harrogate ( /ˈhærəɡət/ HARR-ə-gət) is a spa town in North Yorkshire, England. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town is a tourist destination and its visitor attractions include its spa waters and RHS Harlow Carr gardens. 13 miles (21 km) away from the town centre is the Yorkshire Dales national park and the Nidderdale AONB. Harrogate grew out of two smaller settlements, High Harrogate and Low Harrogate, in the 17th century. For three consecutive years (2013–2015), polls voted the town as "the happiest place to live" in Britain. [1] [2] [3] [4]


Harrogate spa water contains iron, sulphur and common salt. The town became known as 'The English Spa' in the Georgian era, after its waters were discovered in the 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries its 'chalybeate' waters (containing iron) were a popular health treatment, and the influx of wealthy but sickly visitors contributed significantly to the wealth of the town.

Harrogate railway station and Harrogate bus station in the town centre provide transport connections. Leeds Bradford International Airport is 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Harrogate. The main roads through the town are the A61, connecting Harrogate to Leeds and Ripon, and the A59, connecting the town to York and Skipton. Harrogate is also connected to Wetherby and the A1(M), by the A661. The town of Harrogate had a population of 71,594 at the 2001 UK census; [5] [6] the urban area comprising Harrogate and nearby Knaresborough had a population of 85,128, while the figure for the much wider Borough of Harrogate, comprising Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, as well as a number of smaller settlements and a large rural area, was 151,339. [7]

The town motto is Arx celebris fontibus, which means "a citadel famous for its springs." [8]


The name Harrogate is first attested in the 1330s as Harwegate, Harougat and Harrowgate. The origin of the name is uncertain. It may derive from Old Norse hǫrgr 'a heap of stones, cairn' + gata 'street', in which case the name presumably meant 'road to the cairn'. [9] Another possibility is that the name means "the way to Harlow". The form Harlowgate is known from 1518, [10] and apparently in the court rolls of Edward II. [11]


Royal Pump Room Pump Room Harrogate - geograph.org.uk - 12894.jpg
Royal Pump Room

In medieval times Harrogate was a place on the borders of the township of Bilton with Harrogate in the ancient Parish of Knaresborough, and the parish of Pannal, also known as Beckwith with Rossett. The part within the township of Bilton developed into the community of High Harrogate, and the part within Pannal developed into the community of Low Harrogate. Both communities were within the Royal Forest of Knaresborough. In 1372 King Edward III granted the Royal Forest to his son John, Duke of Lancaster (also known as John of Gaunt), and the Duchy of Lancaster became the principal landowner in Harrogate. [12]

Harrogate's development is owed to the discovery of its chalybeate and sulphur rich spring water from the 16th century. The first mineral spring was discovered in 1571 by William Slingsby who found that water from the Tewit Well in High Harrogate possessed similar properties to that from springs in the Belgian town of Spa, which gave its name to spa towns. The medicinal properties of the waters were publicised by Edmund Deane. His book, Spadacrene Anglica, or the English Spa Fountain was published in 1626.

In the 17th and 18th centuries further chalybeate springs were discovered in High Harrogate, and both chalybeate and sulphur springs were found in Low Harrogate. The two communities attracted many visitors. A number of inns were opened for visitors in High Harrogate in the 17th century (the Queen's Head, the Granby, the Dragon and the World's End.) In Low Harrogate the Crown was open by the mid 18th century, and possibly earlier. [13] [14]

In accordance with an Enclosure Act of 1770, promoted by the Duchy of Lancaster, the Royal Forest of Knaresborough was enclosed. The enclosure award of 1778 clarified ownership of land in the Harrogate area. Under the award 200 acres (81 ha) of land, which included the springs known at that time, were reserved as a public common, The Stray, which has remained public open space. [15] The Enclosure Award facilitated development around the Stray. During the 19th century, the area between High Harrogate and Low Harrogate, which until then had remained separate communities a mile apart, was developed, and what is now the central area of Harrogate was built on high ground overlooking Low Harrogate. [16] An area to the north of the developing town was reserved to the Duchy of Lancaster, and was developed for residential building. To provide entertainment for the increasing numbers of visitors the Georgian Theatre was built in 1788. Bath Hospital (later the Royal Bath Hospital) was built in 1826. The Royal Pump Room was built in 1842. The site of Tewit Well is marked by a dome on the Stray. Other wells can be found in the Valley Gardens and Royal Pump Room museum.

In 1870, engineering inventor Samson Fox perfected the process of creating water gas, in the basement laboratory of Grove House. After constructing a trial plant at his home on Skipton Road, making it the first house in Yorkshire to have gas lighting and heating; he built a town-sized plant to supply Harrogate. After Parliament Street became the world's first route to be lit by water-gas, newspapers commented: "Samson Fox has captured the sunlight for Harrogate." After donating the town's first fire engine, and building the town's theatre, he was elected mayor for three years, an unbroken record.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Harrogate was popular among the English élite and frequented by nobility from mainland Europe [ citation needed ]. Its popularity declined after the First World War. During the Second World War, Harrogate's large hotels accommodated government offices evacuated from London paving the way for the town to become a commercial, conference, and exhibition centre.

In 1893 Harrogate doctor George Oliver was the first to observe the effect of adrenaline on the circulation.

Former employers in the town were the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), the Milk Marketing Board and ICI who occupied offices and laboratories at Hornbeam Park where Crimplene was invented in the 1950s and named after the nearby Crimple Valley and beck.

In 2007, two metal detectorists found the Harrogate hoard, a 10th-century Viking treasure hoard, near Harrogate. The hoard contains almost 700 coins and other items from as far away as Afghanistan. The hoard was described by the British Museum as the most important find of its type in Britain for 150 years. [17]


Harrogate Town Hall Harrogate Town Hall - geograph.org.uk - 738842.jpg
Harrogate Town Hall

In 1884 the Municipal Borough of Harrogate was created, taking High Harrogate from the civil parish of Bilton with Harrogate and Low Harrogate from the civil parish of Pannal. [18] The borough absorbed neighbouring areas in subsequent years, including the whole of the civil parishes of Bilton and Starbeck, and a large part of the civil parish of Pannal, including the village of Pannal, in 1938. The municipal borough was abolished in 1974, when Harrogate was transferred from the West Riding to North Yorkshire and became part of the wider Borough of Harrogate. Harrogate then became an unparished area, with no local government of its own.

The MP for the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency is Andrew Jones, a Conservative. He was elected in 2010, ousting the Liberal Democrats who had won the seat at the previous three general elections. [19] He subsequently won re-election in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 (albeit with a reduced majority) general elections.

The town governed by Harrogate Borough Council, which since the 2010 election has had a Conservative majority. [20]

The Borough of Harrogate is twinned with:


The town is a dormitory town for commuters working in Leeds, Bradford and York area. [22] [23] Harrogate is prosperous and has some of the highest property prices in England, with many properties in the town and surrounding villages valued at £1 million or more. [24]

Harrogate is situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, with the Vale of York to the east and the upland Yorkshire Dales to the west and north-west. It has a dry and mild climate, typical of places in the rain shadow of the Pennines. It is on the A59 from Skipton to York. At an altitude of between 100 and 200 metres (330 and 660 ft), Harrogate is higher than many English settlements. It has an average minimum temperature in January of slightly below 0 °C (32 °F) and an average maximum in July and August of 20 °C (68 °F). [25]


Harrogate's climate is classified as warm and temperate. There is significant rainfall throughout the year in Harrogate. Even the driest month still has a lot of rainfall. The Köppen-Geiger climate classification is Cfb. The average annual temperature in Harrogate is 48 °F (8.9 °C). In a year, the average rainfall is 29 inches (742 mm). [26]

Climate data for Climate data for Harrogate
Record high °C (°F)16
Average high °C (°F)6.9
Average low °C (°F)0.8
Record low °C (°F)−16
Average precipitation mm (inches)52.7
Average precipitation days11.
Mean monthly sunshine hours 40599814119021822920315610365471,548
Source: Met Office [27]


Curtain and orchestra pit of the Harrogate Theatre Harrogate Theatre pit and curtain.jpg
Curtain and orchestra pit of the Harrogate Theatre


Hotels such as the Majestic now serve Harrogate's conference industry Majestic and Conference Centre - geograph.org.uk - 60081.jpg
Hotels such as the Majestic now serve Harrogate's conference industry

Harrogate has a strong and varied economy. The conference and exhibition industry is the focus of the town's business, with Harrogate International Centre [28] the third largest fully integrated conference and exhibition centre in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe. [29] It brings in over £150 million to the local economy every year and attracts in excess of 350,000 business visitors annually. [30] The town is home to the Great Yorkshire Showground and Pavilions of Harrogate, which are major conference destinations.

Harrogate is the home of Yorkshire Tea, exported by Taylors of Harrogate, as well as internationally exported Harrogate Spring Water. The town also exports Farrah's Toffee, Harrogate Blue cheese and Debbie & Andrews Harrogate sausages.

The Great Yorkshire Showground is the hub of the regional agricultural industry, hosted by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. The Great Yorkshire Show, Countryside Live and the twice yearly Harrogate Flower Shows take place there annually.

The many business visitors to Harrogate sustain a number of large hotels, some originally built for visitors to the Spa.

Harrogate's main shopping district is focused on Cambridge Street, Oxford Street, Beulah Street and James Street where most of the high street shops can be found. There is a wide range of boutique and designer shopping on Parliament Street and in the Montpellier Quarter, as well as independent shopping around Commercial Street.

Eating out is popular in Harrogate, and the town well served by restaurants. Parliament Street and Cheltenham Parade are lined with many independent and chain restaurants, while there is a concentration of chain restaurants on John Street and Albert Street.


Cambridge Street, Harrogate Cambridge Street, Harrogate.jpg
Cambridge Street, Harrogate
Bettys is one of Harrogate's best known landmarks. Betty's Tea Rooms, Harrogate DCP 1971.jpg
Bettys is one of Harrogate's best known landmarks.

There are many fine examples of architecture about the town. The only Grade I listed building in Harrogate is St Wilfrid, Duchy Road, which was designed by the architect Temple Lushington Moore and is often considered to be his masterpiece. [31] Another main landmark is the Royal Hall theatre, a Grade II listed building designed by Frank Matcham. [32] As the only surviving Kursaal in Britain, the Royal Hall is an important national heritage building. [33] Restoration work was completed in 2007, and the hall was reopened on 22 January 2008, by the Prince of Wales. [34]

The Royal Pump Room houses Europe's strongest sulphur well, [35] but is now a museum showcasing the town's spa history.

An imposing cenotaph proivdes an important landmark in the centre of the town.

Harrogate War Memorial(Cenotaph) Harrogate War Memorial - Cenotaph.jpg
Harrogate War Memorial(Cenotaph)

Two military installations are located to the west of Harrogate, the Army Foundation College and RAF Menwith Hill, an electronic monitoring station. There used to be a Royal Air Force supply depot and logistics centre on St George's Road in the south-west of the town, but this closed down in 1994. [36] During the Second World War, RAF Harrogate was also used as a training establishment for medical staff and recruit training for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. [37]

Montpellier Quarter

Bettys are Tea Rooms established in 1919 owned by Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate – the same company that market Yorkshire Tea. Bettys has a second tea room at the RHS Harlow Carr Gardens. [38]

The Mercer Art Gallery [39] is home to Harrogate district's art collection which consists of some 2,000 works of art, mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection includes works by William Powell Frith, Atkinson Grimshaw, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Dame Laura Knight and Alan Davie.

The Montpellier Quarter is the centre of the town's nightlife, which is mainly centred on the renovated Royal Baths development.

Parks and gardens

The Valley Gardens, in Low Harrogate, is the town's main park and covers much of the area originally known as 'Bogs Field', where a number of springs were discovered. The Valley Gardens (locals use the definite article) has an ice-cream parlour, children's play area with outdoor paddling pool, a skate park, frisbee golf, crazy golf and mini golf. The Sun Pavilion at the northern edge of the park can be privately hired. Tennis courts and a bowling green are in the west of the park. The Friends Of Valley Gardens group was formed in 2009 to support the park. It works in partnership with Harrogate Borough Council to guide the park’s development.

The Stray is an area of open parkland in the centre of the town. It was created in 1778 to link most of Harrogate's springs in one protected area by an act of Parliament which fixed its area as 200 acres (81  ha ), and even now when part is removed, e.g. due to road widening, it must be replaced elsewhere. During the Victorian period, there was a racecourse for horses there.

RHS Harlow Carr gardens , on the western edge of Harrogate, are award-winning themed gardens and are the Royal Horticultural Society's main presence and representative in the North of England.

Crescent Gardens is a small open area in central Harrogate surrounded by some of the town's main tourist attractions including the Royal Pump Room, Royal Baths and Royal Hall, as well as the Town Hall. Hall M of the Harrogate International Centre fronts onto Crescent Gardens.

The town has several smaller parks and gardens, including The Softpot Garden at Grove House, the Jubilee Gardens and Victoria Gardens on the eastern side of central Harrogate.


On 11 January 1900, Harrogate Grand Opera House, now Harrogate Theatre opened with a charity gala in aid of British soldiers fighting the Boer War in South Africa followed on 13 January 1900 by Mr J Tully’s pantomime, “Dick Whittington”.

In 1966, the Harrogate Festival of Arts & Science was established, now known as the Harrogate International Festivals and the North of England's leading arts festival, [40] incorporating a number of festivals within the portfolio including the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival & Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival, Harrogate Music Festival and a number of year-round events within the portfolio.

The town hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 1982 in the Harrogate International Centre. [41]

Harrogate won the 2003 and 2016 Britain in Bloom in the category of 'Large Town' and the European Entente Florale in 2004 reprising its win in the first Entente Florale in 1977. Harrogate was a gold medal winner of Europe in Bloom in 2004. In 2005, a Channel 4 TV show listed Harrogate as the UK's third best place to live. In 2006 it came fourth in the same league; the programme claimed that it placed lower due to "a slight dip in exam results", although presenter Phil Spencer noted that it was his personal favourite. [42]

Harrogate has 2 orchestras; Harrogate Symphony Orchestra [43] and Harrogate Philharmonic Orchestra. [44]


The Olympic Cauldron for the 2012 London Olympics was built in a ‘Bond Gadget Workshop’ in Harrogate, said designer Thomas Heatherwick. [45]

On 5 July 2014, Harrogate served as the finish line of the first stage [46] of the Tour de France. The event attracted record crowds to the town centre and was televised to a global audience. British cyclist Mark Cavendish was forced to exit the race when he crashed a few metres from the finish line and suffered a dislocated shoulder. [47] The town has since been the focal point for finishing stages of the Tour de Yorkshire in 2017. [48] Each event of the 2019 UCI Road World Championships finished in the town, although the entire historic county of Yorkshire was the official host.



The Exchange above Harrogate railway station The Exchange above Harrogate railway station (12th September 2018).jpg
The Exchange above Harrogate railway station

The town is served by four railway stations; Harrogate (for town centre), Hornbeam Park, Pannal (towards Leeds) and Starbeck on the Harrogate Line to Knaresborough and York. Trains are operated by Northern. Trains run every half-hour to Leeds and Knaresborough, and every hour onto York. There are extra non-stop commuter services at peak times between Harrogate and Leeds.

There is one daily weekday service to London King's Cross via Leeds operated by London North Eastern Railway, who have promised to increase this number to six by 2019.

The former railway lines to Ripon and Wetherby (see Wetherby railway station) were dismantled in the 1960s. A prospective railway company, First Harrogate Trains, proposed to run trains from London King's Cross to Harrogate, [49] but failed to get approval in a process that ended in February 2009.

Ripon Railway from Harrogate

The Ripon line was closed to passengers on 6 March 1967 and to freight on 5 September 1969 as part of the wider Beeching Axe, despite a vigorous campaign by local campaigners, including the city's MP. [50] Today much of the route of the line through the city is now a relief road and although the former station still stands, it is now surrounded by a new housing development. The issue remains a significant one in local politics and there are movements wanting to restore the line. [50] Reports suggest the reopening of a line between Ripon and Harrogate railway station would be economically viable, costing £40 million and could initially attract 1,200 passengers a day, rising to 2,700. [50] [51] Campaigners call on MPs to restore Ripon railway link. [52]

Flying Tiger route 747 Flying Tiger route 747 on Station Parade, Harrogate.jpg
Flying Tiger route 747


Buses are every 15 minutes between Harrogate, Ripon and Leeds (via Harewood, Moortown and Chapel Allerton) on route 36, which run more frequently at peak time and overnight on Fridays and Saturdays between Leeds and Harrogate. The 7 route runs to Leeds via Wetherby, Boston Spa and Seacroft as well as other parts of semi-rural Leeds. There are services to Otley, Bradford, Knaresborough and Pateley Bridge.

Road transport to Leeds is via the A61 (north and central Leeds), A658 (north-west Leeds/Leeds Bradford International Airport) and A661 (for north-east Leeds). The A61 continues northwards to Ripon, while the A658 connects to Bradford after passing through north-west Leeds. The A658 also forms the Harrogate Bypass that skirts the south and east of the town, joining the A59 linking York and the A1(M) to the east and Skipton to the west with Harrogate.

An electric bus charging at Harrogate bus station Electric bus on charge at Harrogate bus station (19th April 2019).jpg
An electric bus charging at Harrogate bus station

Harrogate bus station is in the town centre. It is managed by Harrogate Bus Company, the main operator. [53] The 13 stands are also used by Connexionsbuses, [54] Yorkshire Tiger [55] and National Express.

In 2018, all bus routes which operated within Harrogate and did not venture to other towns became served by electric buses. These buses charge on stands 1-3 at Harrogate bus station. The scheme is part funded by the government’s Low Emission Bus Scheme. [56]


The nearest airport is Leeds Bradford International Airport, 10 miles (16 km) to the south-west, to which there are bus services on route 747, and train services on the Harrogate Line to Horsforth station, one of the closest stations. Manchester Airport is accessible by rail via Leeds railway station.

Harrogate Linton-On-Ouse (HRT) is a military airfield located approximately 15 miles to the east in Linton-on-Ouse.


Harrogate High School was rebuilt under a governmental scheme in mid-2017. It is also home to many private schools in the town centre and others in the surrounding areas, such as Queen Ethelbuga's.


Notable statistics

In 2012, Harrogate had the highest concentration of drink drivers in the UK. [60] A March 2013 survey from the British property website Rightmove ranked Harrogate as the "happiest place" to live in the United Kingdom, an acclaim repeated in 2014 and 2015. [61] In 2014, Harrogate District Hospital had the best cancer care of any hospital in England. [62]

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

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