I was working in a lab, late one night...

Grove house in Harrogate was originally built in 1745-54 as The Worlds End Inn. The building is now a grade II listed and is owned by the RAOB.

Samson Fox, the well known 19th century inventor and philanthropist, took over the property in 1882 until his death in 1903. He extended the house greatly during his time there. Fox added Turkish Baths, royal stables, a West and East wing, a basement laboratory, stained glass windows and many other lavish extras.

Fox made his millions through the invention of the corrugated flue, and subsequent to this, the use of water gas for lighting. Grove house became the first house in the world to be lit using this method.

As Harrogate became the place to be for the aristocrats and royals, Fox ensured that Parliament Street, the main street in the town, was also lit by the means of water gas, with a light so bright it was written that "Samson Fox has captured the sunlight for Harrogate".

Unfortunately Fox didn't manage to extend his methods much further as he was blocked by existing gas companies and some damaging stories reported by a consumer safety champion and fiction writer.

After clearing his name, Fox decided to put his efforts into his new home town of Harrogate. He built the fire station and Grove Road School, and then also became a very successful Mayor of the town for over 3 years.

Malcolm Neesom, a Harrogate historian, is convinced that there is a lost laboratory within the sealed doors of the Grove House basement waiting to be discovered.

When Malcolm was looking into the life of Samson Fox back in the 80s, a secretary for the RAOB told him that the lost laboratory was believed to have been in the eastern wing of the house, following some cracking in the concrete. Due to lack of funding and interest, nothing further has ever been done about opening up the sealed doors to the basement, and seeing what remains of the lost laboratory.

Here at Studio 4 Architecture, we are a stones throw away from Grove house, the history behind the building and what exciting discoveries could be hiding in the basement, is often a topic of conversation.

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