Water, health and leisure
in Healing with water
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This chapter investigates how life at water cure resorts related to broader trends in leisure, resort cultures and better sanitation. The increased popularity of medical bathing occurred in the context of improved management of water supplies and changing norms in its use for leisure and hygiene. By the 1880s facilities for medical bathing were provided in a number of residential and seaside towns too, often funded by municipal authorities, in complexes providing medical, swimming, Turkish and slipper baths. Public authorities faced challenges in securing adequate safe and reliable supplies of clean water to meet rising demand for domestic, leisure and commercial use in resorts. The chapter assesses how social life at water resorts adjusted to cater for a predominantly middle class clientele, influenced by preferences for sobriety and domesticity rather than the formal, public, social life characteristic of eighteenth-century spas. The ideal of rus in urbe continued to be influential, encouraging investment in libraries, music and winter gardens as well as increased provision of extensive parks and sports facilities. (169)

Healing with water

English spas and the water cure, 1840–1960

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