Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

`HOW HAVE you remained pertinacious in ignorance about this for so long?' asked my husband, with a little pause expecting laughter.

He was remarking upon a pile of letters on the word kursaal, about which I had indeed been ignorant until mentioning it here a couple of weeks ago. I had suggested that, as a word of German origin, it was unlikely to have been adopted after the first world war for use as the commercial title of a saloon for public resort, rather the reverse.

And now Mr Arthur Brack from Edinburgh writes in with the curious family history of the Kursaal at Harrogate. It was the fondest wish of Mr Brack's grandfather-in-law, Alderman Charles Fortune, to build assembly rooms of suitable splendour to match the new bathing place which the spa of Harrogate had constructed to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Alderman Fortune's `cure-hall', or kursaal, would trump anything in Germany or the Austrian Empire, with a central hall accommodating more than 3,000, in addition to promenades, smoking rooms, billiard rooms, restaurants and assembly rooms, all to be finished, Mr Brack tells me, in rich mahogany, polished stone, bronze and stained glass. …

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