Gin maker Spirit of Harrogate has added its name to a dazzling light display celebrating its home town’s spa heritage.
As the North Yorkshire town “Welcomes the World” with the arrival of the UCI Road World Cycling Championships, this new illuminated sculpture in the Valley Gardens honours the many wells of unique quality and character found in the area.
And, next weekend, 36 wells within the park – together with the imposing Harlow Hill water tower – will be lit with light shafts to complete a 3D art installation, which will be seen in the night sky for miles around.
Called Harrogate 1571, the work has been commissioned by Harrogate Borough Council as part of a wrap-around cultural programme for the global cycling event, and is backed by the makers of Slingsby London Dry Gin and Slingsby Yorkshire Rhubarb Gin, whose products use water drawn from the world-famous Harrogate aquifer.
Whilst more than 100 wells are set within Harrogate, Bogs Field in the Valley Gardens is the source of 36 unique mineral springs. A natural wonder of the world, where a greater number of unique mineral springs come to the surface than at any other known place on earth.
The waters are Magmatic or Plutonic in origin, and never existed as rain, flowing deep beneath the earth for 20,000 years before surfacing through vertical shafts in the strata.
Spirit of Harrogate director Marcus Black said: “We named our gin, Slingsby, in honour of William Slingsby, who in 1571 discovered the unique properties of the natural spring water from Tewit Well.
“Harrogate residents and businesses owe him a huge debt of gratitude, and when we were asked if we would back this celebration of Harrogate’s waters, we didn’t hesitate for a second.
“We are extremely proud of our Harrogate roots, and delighted to be able to add the Slingsby name to the Valley Garden installation, which brilliantly throws light on our spa heritage.”
Harrogate Borough Council chief executive Wallace Sampson said: “Whereas Rome was built on seven hills, Harrogate was built on water!
“Our architecture, reputation, concert halls and hotels all rose from this life-giving element. It’s the very reason why people came to the town in the first place. And when they visited many decided to make it their home too.
“Harrogate International Festivals is to be congratulated for this inspirational illuminating installation. And when the UCI has ridden out of town, the good news is this feature will be in situ for many months to come.”
Harrogate International Festivals chief executive Sharon Canavar said: “This is one of our most exciting projects to date, and to reach this stage has taken a lot of hard work and the co-operation and support of a number of organisations, namely Spirit of Harrogate, Harrogate Borough Council, and Yorkshire Water.
“The UCI is bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the town and, with the eyes of the world watching, this is Harrogate’s chance to shine.
“Our beautiful town owes its fame and fortune to the large number of mineral water wells that converge in a relatively small area.
“For our part, we have taken the waters that ‘made’ Harrogate as our inspiration, and Harrogate 1571 is a unique celebration of our spa heritage, demonstrating that there’s definitely something in the water here in Harrogate!
“The installation has been brought to life thanks to the skills of Eddie Roberts from Cult-Ore, and James Bawn from Element 3 Design. James – who is renowned for bringing Emley Mast and the Shard to light – is also working with us to produce the lighting of the springs and water tower as part of the finale weekend of the UCI.”
Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “In the short timescale the artwork has been in the Valley Gardens it has become a real talking point.
“It is an amazing structure sharing the history of Harrogate, and now has a bigger story to tell, thanks to a 248-year-old map and its antiquated spellings.”