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Royal Leamington Spa

This set was issued by the Royal Leamington Spa Corporation. Please do not forget the 'Royal' ;-)

The set was issued in 1976, the year of my departure.

I am unsure how many sets were printed or how they were issued.

It is a set which brings back many memories and I feel it would have been a nice idea if more corporations had given enough thought to create a set of cards.

The set begins with the Borough Arms which is a very good place to start. The motto, 'Those things alone are good which are honourable.'

Card 2 explains why you are not allowed to forget the 'Royal' and shows a picture of the Town Hall with the well-known monument to Queen Victoria. As a personal note a slightly different view of the Town Hall and the statue is on the wall beside me now. It was done by my father, an accomplished artist. The name Royal Leamington Spa was given in 1838 after Queen Victoria had visited in 1830. She liked it so much she spent another brief visit to the town in 1858.

You have to wait till card 5 to discover why it was called 'spa'.

The picture shows Aylesford Well which was demolished in 1961, (erected 1813). It was erected on the site, next to the Parish church, where saline springs were discovered.

And so ends a small tour of my old home town

'Taking the waters' was a very popular activity and was the making of the town. People flocked from far and wide because of the alleged healing properties of the water. I think it tasted so ruddy horrible and looked worse that the Victorians could not believe it was anything other than delightful for them.

Now the waters are taken at the Royal Pump Room (which became badly rundown but things have changed in the last few years, partially because 'The Rolling Stones' set a video in it I suspect.) It was erected in 1814 and spa water could be forced into your body in any number of ways there. The indoor swimming bath measures 100 feet by 40 feet is actually a real Victorian treat.

Card 10 proves there are many 'Crescents' in town architecture (Bath take note). Leamington's example is Landsdowne Crescent. It was built between 1820 - 1850 and is carefully preserved by the Town council (so the card says).

Card Ten show Stampford Gardens, a council built block of flats which opened in October 1968. The card explains. 'In contrast to the architecture shown on Card 10.' Well what could they mean? My Grannie lived in this block of flats as many grannies still do.

Card 13 shows a riot of colour which is 'The Jephson Gardens' The site was donated in 1846 by Edward Willes. The gardens are named after Dr Jephson (1798-1878) a local doctor which did much for the towns reputation. A statue of the man is in a Corinthian Temple (they are not kidding) within the gardens.

I actually thought that the man behind the rusting iron bars of the temple was the Prince Regent because of the Queen Victoria connection. It was always a mildly scary place because I thought he was buried there.

One of the joys of childhood was going to feed the ducks in the gardens and going to look at the fountains which were dotted about the place. There were many of them but there was always one which was a favourite of mine.

Quite why it was such a favourite I cannot say given some of the wonders but the 'mushroom on a plinth' made out of brown stone with water running all over it actually appears on card 17. With the wonder of cards I can now tell you all about this fountain:

Details from Card 17
The Czechoslovak Memorial
Leamington was the headquarters of the Free Czechoslovak Army during the 1939-45 War. This memorial was erected in the Jephson Gardens (Card 13) during October 1968 and commemorated in particular seven Czech heroes who were parachuted into their country to assassinate S.S General Heydrich. The memorial is carved from Warwickshire limestone and represents a falling parachute, the streams of water representing the 'strings'.

Card 20 shows the country-wide famous bowling competition. It really captures the excitement of bowls (during a slow moment admittedly.)

Other sports the Corporation was keen to mention was the sports track they had just completed, the Archery competition and fencing.

Well no town can survive on gardens, vile brown water and a stone parachute so the final cards are devoted to more commercial ventures.

Card 23 depicts perhaps the boroughs most famous son. The card announces that a public house in Bruinswick Street is called 'The jet and Whittle.' Yep, Frank Whittle invented the jet engine. He also had the honour of living next to us (but then again he lived next to everyone in those days <bg>) The card shows a plaque commemorating his attendance at a local school. I must say they could have been a bit more imaginative on that count.

Card 24 shows the Lockhead factory, everyone worked there. 'One of the leading manufacturers of component parts for motor vehicles' it has had its headquarters based in Royal Leamington Spa since 1929. The produce range includes such 'famous names' as Lockhead brakes, Borg & Beck clutches.

The earliest major internaational fair was the Great Exhibition of 1851 in the Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, London which ran for 141 days and attracted 6,039,195 admissions.
It also introduced jelly (jello) to many a Victorian personage as it was found to be a cheap way to fed all the visitors.

The Flavel's factory occupies card 25 and is obviously of more modern structure than the Lockhead factory. Established in 1777 a branch opened in Leamington in 1803. Awarded one of only 17 gold medals at the Great Exhibition (1851) the card tells us the most recent success is the Flavel Debonair Gas Fire, so far over one million having been sold. The card shows the 'modern up-to-date foundry situated in Tipton.'

And so ends a small tour of my old home town immortalised in 25 cards.

I'm feeling quite homesick now but if I moved back I would feel homesick for this place, such is the human condition.