Town or Country? British Spas and the Urban-Rural Interface

Peter Borsay

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18 Citations (SciVal)


This paper explores the ambivalent geographical and cultural status of spas in Britain. Some were located in traditional urban centres, others expanded to the point where they became ‘new towns’; all supported in some measure an urbane culture, and were part of a wider process where from the later seventeenth century many towns were becoming centres of up-market health and leisure services. However, most spas were established in rural locations and remained small. Moreover, even those which grew into substantial towns played to a green agenda, cultivating the natural environment within and outside their boundaries as a key recreational resource and aspect of their tourist image. It is argued that spas played to both the urban and rural elements in their make-up, and in so doing were able to develop a marketing strategy that offered their visitors and residents the best of both worlds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-169
JournalJournal of Tourism History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 04 Jul 2012


  • Britain
  • spas
  • towns
  • countryside
  • nature
  • culture
  • space


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