New gardens celebrate Harrogate’s spa herritage

14 April 2014

This spring, visitors to Valley Gardens are in for a real treat, as one of Harrogate’s forgotten treasures once again takes pride of place within the award winning park, thanks to the creation of a Rock Garden, Sensory Garden and new and re-laid paths.

The Old Magnesia Well Pump Room, which is situated in the heart of Valley Gardens, has been hidden amongst the shrubbery for a number of years. But thanks to community group Friends of Valley Gardens and Harrogate Borough Council, the Victorian marvel is well on its way to returning to its former glory.

The Magnesia Well Pump Room was built in 1858 and quickly became one of the most popular in the town – with Valley Gardens developing around the well to cater for people arriving for health treatments in Harrogate. However, in recent years, the gothic building has been lost from sight to most visitors behind dense vegetation.

In October 2010, Friends of Valley Gardens announced proposals to restore the Old Magnesia Well Pump Room and transform it into an Information and Education Centre, while also restoring, clearing and landscaping the surrounding Peat Garden. Since then, the group has raised over £68,000 to fund the project, with the first phase of refurbishing the Old Magnesia Well Pump Room beginning in 2012.

After receiving a £10,350 grant from WREN, a not for profit business that awards grants to community projects from funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund, work began in February 2014 to restore the Rock Garden and existing paths, and extend the path network. The Rock Garden area and Sensory Gardens are due to be planted throughout the spring and early summer. A £5,000 donation received from the Charles and Elsie Sykes Trust, £1,000 from the Duke of York Community Innovation Fund, and a £100 Community Award from the Yorkshire Building Society are presently being used on the garden areas. Works includes importing stone, installing drainage and selecting suitable planting.

Meanwhile the refurbishment of the Old Magnesia Well Pump Room building continues, supported by a generous donation of £10,000 from the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation. The donation will be used to restore the Pump Room’s pine interior and install appropriate furnishings for the building’s conversion into an Information and Education Centre.

The Friends of Valley Gardens will continue their fundraising activity to reach their target of £110,000 by holding a 1940’s themed event in Valley Gardens on Sunday June 29th and a stand at St Wilfrid’s Church on Saturday 17th May.

Councillor Pat Jones, the council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Sports said: The Old Magnesia Well Pump Room has been a somewhat forgotten part of Harrogate history, and it will be fabulous to give it a new lease of life when it is transformed into an education centre.

We are grateful to WREN for providing a grant to help fund the landscaping of the Old Magnesia Well Gardens and to the Friends of Valley Gardens who have worked tirelessly to make this project become reality. The landscape areas are developing wonderfully and will provide a fitting backdrop to the pump room. It is much deserved that such an important part of Harrogate’s spa history is being given the recognition it deserves.


Jane Blayney, Chairman of Friends Of Valley Gardens said: The Friends Of Valley Gardens are grateful for the support given by all their funders, donors, members, hard working volunteers, contractors and Harrogate Borough Council, especially our Clerks of Works Patricia McLaughlin for the Peat Garden part of the project, and Mark Coston for the Old Magnesia Well Pump Room.

For further information on Friends of Valley Gardens, please contact or visit

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