Situated at the north end of Pittville Park, the Pittville Pump Room ranks among the finest examples of Regency architecture in Cheltenham. Its grand dome overlooks ornamental lakes located at the bottom of the park. This magnificent Grade 1 listed building was built both as a spa and a social venue in Joseph Pitt's magnificent Pittville Estate by a local architect John Forbes.
Pittville Pump Room
The foundation stone was laid on 4th May 1825. The occasion was celebrated by the ringing of the bells, firing of cannons, as well as a Masonic Procession which set out from the Masonic Hall in Portland Street. In the evening banquets were held at two of the town's hotels and grand fireworks display was to be seen at Pittville. The building took five years to complete. Following disagreements between Forbes and the builder, a second architect, John Clement Mead from London, was employed to finish the interior. He designed the elaborate stoves which heated the building. The total cost of the project was over £40,000. The Pump Room was officially opened 20th July 1830.
The grand building is 92 feet long by 43 feet, surrounded by a colonnade 13 feet wide the roof of which are supported by fluted Ionic columns 22 feet high. Along the facade stand three figures representing Aesculapius, Hygeia and Hippocrates, originally made by Lucius Gahagan of Bath. In its design, the building combines elements of both Greek and Roman architecture. It was modelled on the temple on Illisus in Athens, the engravings of which appeared in Stuart and Revett's Antiquities of Athens (1762). The inspiration for the dome probably came from the Panthenon in Rome. .
A large ballroom was situated on the ground floor where even today visitors can attend music concerts, dances and other events. With a capacity of 400 and remarkable acoustics, it is Cheltenham's finest concert venue. The spa with an oval pump room to the rear of the building are still there for the visitors to enjoy, available from a marbled pump and counter.
A reading room, library and billiard room occupied the first floor, which more recently was given over to a museum of costume and fashion, until financial constraints forced the museum to close.
Despite the grandeur of its architecture, Pittville Pump Room remained relatively isolated in the northern part of the town. In 1889 the Borough Council bought the building from the County of Gloucester Bank, which had acquired it as part of Joseph Pitt's grand but unfortunately debt-ridden estate. During the Second World War the building served as a storage depot for the American Army. In 1949 the works of restoration started as the structure of the building had deteriorated. In 1960 Pittville Pump Room was reopened by the 7th Duke of Wellington, whose ancestor, the 1st Duke of Wellington, had watched the progress of its construction 128 years earlier.
HOW TO BOOK
For events at the Pittville Pump Room please book your tickets at the box office at the Town Hall. It is open Mon-Sat 9.30am - 5.30pm (or until the beginning of the evening performance),
Sundays and Bank holidays for 30 minutes before the performance. You can also book by phone on 01242 227979 Monday - Friday 10am-8pm,
Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm. You can also book tickets by post to the Town Hall with your booking details and a cheque made payable to Cheltenham Borough Council. For an extra £1 your tickets will be posted to you, otherwise enclose an SAE or call in to collect them. Tickets can be also booked via email at email@example.com or online at the Town Hall website www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk where a £1.50 transaction fee is applicable.