Richard Knill Freeman

Bolton architect

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Buildings Designs not built Springbank hydropathic, Harrogate

Springbank Hydropathic, Harrogate

The Builder, August 23, 1890 reported:

“This new building will stand in the centre of a site of nine acres which has been acquired in the best position in Harrogate, adjoining the Spa grounds, with a frontage to the Ripon-road. It is close to the Montpelier Baths and Winter Gardens about to be erected by the Corporation at a cost of some 47,000l and also near to the Sulphur Wells. The position and contour of the land render it peculiarly adapted to the purpose, and when laud out, the grounds, which are well wooded, will be very picturesque. The part near the building will be arranged as terraces falling towards the Spa grounds, the remainder being treated naturally, with a small lake in one part. Numerous tennis-courts are provided.  This work has been entreated to Mr T. H. Mawson, Landscape Gardener, of Windermere. The building will be of stone, in the Renaissance style. It will contain about 200 bedrooms, a large Dining Saloon to seat about 350, large and small Drawing-rooms, Library, Reading, and Billiard-rooms, &c. It will also have a large Winter Garden and Entertainment Hall, with retiring rooms &c. The Turkish and other baths will be in the centre of the building at the back, and will be fitted up with the newest and most approved appliances. Lifts are so arranged that patients can be taken in wheeled chairs from their rooms, on either story [sic], direct to the Turkish baths. The corridors are level throughout on both floors ; they are wide and well lighted, and will form pleasant promenades. A number of the front bedrooms on the principal floors will be specially arranged as sitting and bedroom combined, on the Continental system. The lighting throughout will be by electricity.

Suitable gate-lodges and stables will be provided.

The cost of the  building is approximately estimated at between 40,000l and 50,000l.

The architects are Mr. R Knill Freeman FRIBA of Manchester and Mr S Denison Robins of Newcastle.”

This is a puzzle. Malcolm Neesam, in his book about the Hotel Majestic, states that the house on the site, Spring Bank, was was put on the market in 1896 and that it was then purchased by Frederick Hotels. In April 1898, the Harrogate Herald reported that the site might be developed as a hotel. This was confirmed in August 1898, together with the name, Hotel Majestic. Neesam states: “Frederick Hotels invited architects to submit plans in accordance with a carefully considered specification…Architects R Knill Freeman and S Denison Roberts [sic] submitted a design in strict accordance with the first specification, but Frederick Hotels soon realised that Harrogate’s growing visitor market required and even larger structure.” This allowed them to select their preferred architect, the London-based G D Martin, and the hotel was built to his design in 1899-1900. No reference is given for this, but this scenario does not seem to fit with the design of Freeman in 1890 (clearly shown on the drawing below), eight years previously, when there was an occupied house on this site and apparently no thought of building a hotel there.

In view of Freeman’s design, perhaps we should be grateful that his building was not implemented.


The Builder, August 23, 1890

Neesam, Malcolm; Hotel Majestic, 2000