I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Sunday 15 September 2013

Radford Semele (Grand Union) – Friday 13th September

We were lying in bed discussing what to do today when Ferndale went passed on her way to the Hatton flight.  There was a mad waving session and then they cruised away.

A strange house at Cape of Good Hope
We decided that, as we have already done Warwick, we would go back to Leamington Spa and have a look round there.  Another reason to go there was to go to the Carphone Warehouse as Richard lost his phone yesterday.  On inspection of the pockets in his jeans I discovered a hole which looked rather like a dog chew shape!!  He had already cancelled the phone but we needed to sort out something new.  The contract with Vodafone is coming to an end and as suddenly there is no Vodafone signal at home he is going to change to O2.  Richard only wants a bog standard phone (nothing smart for him) but the shop in Leamington didn’t have one in stock so we have decided to order one on line which we will get delivered the day after we get home.

We did the two Warwick locks then headed to Leamington Spa, formally known as Leamington Priors.  Neither of us had been before and we were pleasantly surprised. 
Royal Pump Rooms and Baths
In 1814, the Royal Pump Rooms and Baths were opened close to the River Leam. This grand structure attracted many visitors, expecting cures by bathing in pools of salty spa water. It also included the world's first gravity fed piped hot water system in modern times, which was designed and installed by the engineer William Murdoch.  Leamington became a popular spa resort attracting the wealthy and famous, and construction began of numerous Georgian townhouses to accommodate visitors, and a town hall was built in 1830.  With the spread of the town's popularity, and the granting with a 'Royal' prefix in 1838 by Queen Victoria, 'Leamington Priors' was renamed 'Royal Leamington Spa'. Queen Victoria had visited the town as a Princess in 1830 and as Queen in 1858.  A statue of Queen Victoria was almost destroyed by a German bomb during World War II, and was moved one inch on its plinth by the blast.

Fountain in Jephson Gardens
A friendly squirrel
We walked through Jephson Gardens.  These were first laid out in 1831 as informal riverside walks along the River Leam.  The original Newbold Gardens were developed into formal pleasure grounds after 1846 in honour of Dr Henry Jephson, who had promoted the town as a spa. It is listed as Grade II on the English Heritage register of historic parks and gardens.  Like many parks, Jephson Gardens fell into slow decline after World War II. It was restored by Warwick District Council in the early 2000s thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of over £3 million.  There used to be a large copper beech tree near the clock tower which was diagnosed with a root rotting fungal disease and had to be felled. The tree was one of the first trees planted in Jephson Gardens approximately 160 years ago. Graham Jones, a local sculptor, was commissioned to carve the remaining 3 metre tree base with a timeline highlighting dates and events which occurred during the trees lifetime. Each date and image are carved into the tree growth ring which corresponds to the year.

The carved copper beach
New carvings from an oak tree
Across the river from Jephson Gardens is the Elephant Wash this was specifically constructed in the 19th Century so that circus elephants in winter quarters in Leamington could be watered.

The elephant wash
After our wander round Leamington we returned to Mary H and set off back out into the country and moored up by Radford Semele.  We were just under the church clock which struck the hour and I was rather worried that it would keep us awake but it didn’t.

Cape of Good Hope to Radford Semele
5.50 miles
2 locks

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