Representations of spa culture in the nineteenth-century British media : publicity, the press and the villes d'eaux (1800-1914)

Jill Steward

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter, in an edited collection of essays by British and French scholars, draws on primary and secondary sources in order to address the question of how and why, as the supply of tourist destinations expanded, people chose to visit particular spa towns. The methodology is based on an analysis of the types of information available to potential customers. It argues that an understanding of the development of British and French spas in the nineteenth century is dependent on positioning them within a wider international context. The essay identifies and analyses the emergence of new trends contributing to the growth and decline of particular spa towns, the setting up of overlapping networks of spas with their concomitant networks of physicians and the factors influencing the travel patterns of the British elite classes. This chapter is a development from earlier essays focusing on the role of the press in the formation of cultural identities, tourist culture and place-image. The chapter was the outcome of an Anglo-French conference at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, May 2005, which focused on British and French spas in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This is the first historical study linking the media with the commercial development of the spa towns and health tourism in this way. The theme of the importance of press publicity has been subsequently developed in a forthcoming chapter on factors making for the growth of urban tourism in the nineteenth century, ‘The attractions of place’ (Campus 2008). Attendance at the conference was funded by Northumbria. A consequence of this essay was participation as an invited speaker in an international workshop organised by the Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Warwick, 2007, ‘Kill or Cure: Water and Health in the Nineteenth Century’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpas in Britain and in France in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
EditorsAnnick Cossic, Patrick Galliou
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars
Number of pages350
ISBN (Print)9781904303725
Publication statusPublished - 2006


Dive into the research topics of 'Representations of spa culture in the nineteenth-century British media : publicity, the press and the villes d'eaux (1800-1914)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this