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The town of Harrogate had a population of 71,594 at the 2001 UK census; the urban area comprising Harrogate and nearby Knaresborough had a population of 85,128, while the figure for the much wider Borough of Harrogate, comprising Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, as well as a number of smaller settlements and a large rural area, was 151,339.The name Harrogate is first attested in the 1330s as Harwegate, Harougat and Harrowgate. It may derive from Old Norse hǫrgr 'a heap of stones, cairn' gata 'street', in which case the name presumably meant 'road to the cairn'.In 1893 Harrogate doctor George Oliver was the first to observe the effect of adrenaline on the circulation.Former employers in the town were the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), the Milk Marketing Board and ICI who occupied offices and laboratories at Hornbeam Park where Crimplene was invented in the 1950s and named after the nearby Crimple Valley and beck.Bath Hospital (later the Royal Bath Hospital) was built in 1826. The site of Tewit Well is marked by a dome on the Stray.Other wells can be found in the Valley Gardens and Royal Pump Room museum.Since 2013, polls have consistently voted the town as "the happiest place to live" in Britain.
Harrogate grew out of two smaller settlements, High Harrogate and Low Harrogate, in the 17th century.
In the 17th and 18th centuries further chalybeate springs were discovered in High Harrogate, and both chalybeate and sulphur springs were found in Low Harrogate. A number of inns were opened for visitors in High Harrogate in the 17th century (the Queen's Head, the Granby, the Dragon and the World's End.) In Low Harrogate the Crown was open by the mid 18th century, and possibly earlier.
In accordance with an Enclosure Act of 1770, promoted by the Duchy of Lancaster, the Royal Forest of Knaresborough was enclosed.
Both communities were within the Royal Forest of Knaresborough.
In 1372 King Edward III granted the Royal Forest to his son John, Duke of Lancaster (also known as John of Gaunt), and the Duchy of Lancaster became the principal landowner in Harrogate.