Boston Spa

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Boston Spa
Boston Spa bridge in 2007.jpg
Boston Spa is located in West Yorkshire
Boston Spa
Boston Spa
 Boston Spa shown within West Yorkshire
Population 4,079 (2011)
OS grid reference SE431455
   – London 170 mi (270 km)  SSE
Civil parish Boston Spa
Metropolitan borough City of Leeds
Metropolitan county West Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WETHERBY
Postcode district LS23
Dialling code 01937
Police West Yorkshire
Fire West Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Elmet and Rothwell
List of places

Coordinates: 53°54′14″N 1°20′44″W / 53.9039°N 1.3455°W / 53.9039; -1.3455

Boston Spa is a village and civil parish in the City of Leeds metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. Situated 3 miles (5 km) south of its post town Wetherby, Boston Spa is on the banks of the River Wharfe. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 4,006 rising to 4,079 in the 2011 census.[1]


High Street, Boston Spa showing the Crown Hotel to the right

In 1744, John Shires established Boston as a spa town when he discovered magnesian limestone and sulphur springs. In those days, it was known as Thorp Spa. It declined when Harrogate became very popular as a spa town.

In 1753, a turnpike was built on the Tadcaster to Otley road, which runs through Boston Spa. In the same year, Joseph Taite built a house for the accommodation of visitors in Boston Spa that became the Royal Hotel, which is still standing, but converted into flats and shops. By 1819, Boston Spa had a population of over 600, and several inns and other houses offering accommodation.[2] Spa baths were built to allow visitors to take the waters. On the east bank of the river lies the village of Thorp Arch, which predates Boston Spa by several centuries.

Thorp Arch hosted a Second World War Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Thorp Arch, an ammunition Filling Factory. ROF Thorp Arch closed in 1957. Part of the site is the home of the Northern Reading Room, Northern Listening Service and Document Supply Collection of the British Library. The remainder of the site is occupied by Thorp Arch Trading Estate and two prisons, now combined as Wealstun Prison.

The Boston Spa and Thorp Arch Conservation Area[3] was designated in 1969 and extended across both Boston Spa and Thorp Arch parishes. It was revised in 2009, restricting the boundaries to Boston Spa parish and reshaped to exclude areas of late-20th-century estate housing to the south of the High Street, as they are of insufficient historic significance to merit inclusion and had not been built at the time of designation in 1969.

The current conservation area boundary focuses more closely on the historic settlement. The conservation area was also extended to the west, to encompass West End, an area of dwellings constructed during the Second World War to house workers from the nearby Thorp Arch munitions factory. The war had a major effect on Boston Spa's population, society and surroundings, and the buildings stand as a testament to that history.


When Boston Spa was founded in 1744 it was in the township of Clifford in the old parish of Bramham, in the upper division of the wapentake of Barkston Ash, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.[4] From 1866 to 1896 it was part of the civil parish of Clifton with Boston, and became a separate civil parish in 1896.[5] The parish was in Wetherby Rural District in the West Riding of Yorkshire until 1974,[6] when it was transferred to the City of Leeds in the new county of West Yorkshire.

Architectural characteristics[edit]

Boston Spa is characterised by the predominance of classically-inspired Georgian architectural forms. The majority of houses along the High Street display Classical proportions, with regular fenestration patterns and symmetrical facades. The use of architectural details is restrained, but details such as dentilled cornices and plat bands can be seen throughout the settlement. Buildings are predominantly two storey in height but this increases to three storeys in the core of the settlement. Dormers are not a characteristic of the buildings in the village.[original research?]


The use of magnesian limestone as the dominant building material is one of the key characteristics of Boston Spa. The stone most widely used in Boston Spa is fine-grained and lends itself well to high-quality ashlar facing. Ashlar is, however, reserved for the highest status buildings and the majority of properties in the conservation area are faced with coursed stone, which adds an element of texture to the stonework not present in ashlar. Colour is also a significant feature, and the uniform palette of pale cream is a key characteristic of the village. While almost all of the 18th- and 19th-century houses are roofed in slate, pantiles are commonly used on subordinate buildings such as outhouses. Limestone slate or thatch are not seen in Boston Spa.[original research?]

There was very little expansion of the village after 1850 until major growth in the late 1970s. This has resulted in considerable uniformity among the historic building stock and stark contrast with the post-war developments, which made little concession to the character or layout of the earlier buildings.[original research?]

Local details[edit]

While many architectural details in Boston Spa stem from national styles of architecture, some locally distinctive details are present. Door and window lintels are formed of skewback (flat) arches and not single stones or timbers. Basket arches are a notable feature over carriage entrances. Small houses frequently have chimney flues and tops constructed from brick, in contrast with the stone construction of the rest of the building. This is probably as a result of sulphur damage to the original stone flues.[original research?]


Costcutter on High Street.
The Crown Hotel.

Boston Spa has a relatively large village centre. There is a post office, a small library, a filling station and a branch of the Leeds Building Society. There are two public houses, (the Admiral Hawke and the Fox and Hounds both owned by Samuel Smiths Old Brewery), a small Costcutter supermarket situated in the former Royal Hotel (the former Costcutter being now a bar), and several independent retailers within the village centre (a butcher, hardware shop and several takeaways), with a small off-licence on Wickham Avenue serving the surrounding council estate.

A third public house, the Crown Hotel, closed down a "few years ago" and was subject to a public enquiry as to its future use. Arguments presented in 2014 by Tesco that the premises "had little or no use as a hotel facility" were accepted at appeal.[7]

The Boston Spa branch of the British Library (the Document Supply Service) is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north-east of the village and outside the civil parish.[8]


Close by but actually in the parish of Clifford is Boston Spa School, the local secondary school with a catchment area typically taking pupils from areas which also feed comprehensives in Wetherby, Garforth and Pendas Fields. The school has success in sports and science teaching, and caters for pupils undertaking GCSEs, A levels, GNVQs and those with special needs according to its ofsted reports.[9]

Other establishments with postal addresses of Boston Spa although sited in the nearby parish of Clifford include the children's hospice Martin House and St John's Catholic School for the Deaf which has a UK-wide catchment.

There are no colleges in Boston Spa, however Leeds City College has a centre in Wetherby[10] There are several further and higher education institutions in Leeds.


Boston Spa comprises a mix of private houses and council houses. Most of the area's council housing is situated around Clifford Moor Road and Wickham Avenue. The east side of Boston Spa comprises mainly larger houses. There are many Georgian villas and town houses on High Street.


The village has an annual Gala, usually held in June. Since 2009 an annual Beer Festival (usually in February), in the Village Hall raises money for St Mary's CE Primary School and the hall itself.[citation needed] The village also holds a weekly Jazz night in the Village Hall called Jazz in the Spa. Boston Spa hosts an annual Arts Festival in the Village Hall, usually around October. It features artists local to Boston Spa and the surrounding area.


The route of The White Rose Way, a long distance walk from Leeds to Scarborough, North Yorkshire passes through the village.


Location grid[edit]


  1. ^ "Boston Spa". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Leeds city council designation" (PDF). Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Clifford cum Boston, GenUKI, retrieved 30 August 2010 
  5. ^ Vision of Britain website: Clifford With Boston
  6. ^ Vision of Britain website: Boston Spa
  7. ^ "The Crown Hotel Building", Retrieved 16 March 2015
  8. ^ Wight, Colin. "Finding the British Library, Boston Spa". Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  9. ^ "Boston Spa School". Ofsted. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "Wetherby Centre". Leeds City College. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 

External links[edit]