In the last quarter of the 17th century, (opened around 1679) a public bath called The Duke of York’s Bagnio (Allsop p.2) or Royal Bagnio was provided by the Duke of York in London (Wright p.64).  The bath stood in Roman Bath Street until 1867 (Wright p 64). Medals or tokens, bearing the figure of a man for men’s baths and a women for women’s baths, with respective days of admission, were issued (Allsop p.2). According to Scott (p.103) this premises was located in Duke’s Bath or Bagnio in Long Acre, and was afterwards renamed the King’s Bagnio by its new owner one Leonard Cunditt.

Newgate Street was opened in 1679 by Turkish Merchants (Scott).

In the 18th century Bath became one of the fashionable resorts in Europe.

‘It is recorded that in the early 18th Century Glasgow provided a washing-house on the banks of the Clyde, and the following description of this establishment appears in the annals of Glasgow dated 1730.

“in 1730, during the time that Peter Murdoch, Esquire, was Provost, the Public Washing-house was erected: a lead watercourse was afterwards taken from the Camlachie Burn for driving the machinery by which water was forced (pumped) from the river into the Washing-house.

The Washing-house accommodates 200 Washers.  The Tacksman provides Hot and Cold Water, 100 large and 80 small Tubs and 100 Stools to any persons who choose to apply for them, in consideration of the following Dues, viz: Hot and Cold Water for a Day’s Washing for one person, without the use of Tubs and Stools, Fourpence.  Do for One Half-Day’s Washing for one person without the use of Tubs and Stools, Threepence.  One Day’s Washing Tub, One Penny.  One Day’s use of a small Tub or Boyne, One Halfpenny.  When two persons use one Tub an additional charge is made for Hot Water of Three Halfpence per Day.  Do for one Half-Day, One Penny.  Three pails of Warm Water for sinding (rinsing) One Penny,  Boiling clothes in large Boiler (one hour) Eightpence, do small Boiler (one hour) Fivepence.  Clothes, if kept in the washing-house all night at the risk of the Tacksman, to pay, per Boyneful, One Penny.  Persons injuring the Tacksman’s Tubs or Stools by accident or otherwise, are to pay a reasonable sum for repairing them.”

The Tacksman referred to in the extract was a tenant or lessee who paid the Corporation an annual rental of £300 for which sum he had full control of the establishment.

It will be apparent that this establishment was run purely as a business concern and not considered in any way as a necessary rate-aided services as Public Laundries are today.’
(Institute of Baths Management Students Manual No.5 Baths Administration)

The site of the St. Anges Le Clair Mineral Baths, Tabernacle-Square, Finsbury may well have been in use in Roman times as coins have been found on this site (Wright p.62)  The site was originally called the well of Anges A Clare and was considered dangerous ‘because of the numbers of people and cattle that fell in and drowned.’ (London Borough of Hackney p.37)  The Baths was advertised as “larger and more commodious than any in or about London – 30’ long, 20’ wide, 4’6” deep.”  The water was always pure as it was constantly flowing from the spring and according to Wright (p.62) the spring was said to have produced 10,000 gallons a day. Cold, warm, vapour, and shower baths were developed, and the Bath remained open from dawn till late at night.  A fire in 1843 closed the Bath. (London Borough of Hackney).

‘There was in existence in Glasgow, a Public Wash House which was erected on ‘The Green’, where ‘Tubs, Stools and Hot Water’ were supplied at moderate charge. At the beginning this establishment was for a few years run by the ‘Master of Works’’, but was later hired out to ‘Tacksmen’ who, judging by the periodical changes which took place, had difficulty in making a success of it.’ (Teasdale Chapter 5)

Mr William Kemp, a City Jeweller who had been relieved of violent pains in his head by bathing in the waters of a spring that rose just north of Old Street, Hoxton (now Baldwin Street, City Road) and called the Perilous Pond. He converted the pond into an open-air swimming pool, 170’ long and 100’ wide and called it the ‘The Peerless Pool’.  The pool was certainly large enough for swimming, and was so used by scholars of Christ’s Hospital. (Wright p.62-63). Kemp also ‘constructed a much smaller bath of very cold water, and a large fishpond for anglers, which he surrounded with terrace walks, planted with lime trees.  He provided a bowling green, a small library, the daily newspapers, and a team of waiters to serve refreshments.  The Pool was described as the “completest swimming-bath in the whole world”.

In 1807 the first lease expired, and the new proprietor had the fishpond drained and lime trees felled.  Baldwin Street, Radsworth Street, and Peerless Street were constructed on the site.  Bit the swimming pool continued to satisfy “the lover of cleanliness or of a cool dip on a hot day….without the offensive publicity and risk of life attendant on river bathing”.  It was finally closed in 1869.’(London Borough of Hackney).

Dr. Richard Russell of Brighton published a book on the remedial effects of sea bathing.

In 1789 records indicate that;
‘Baths were in use in various parts of the City (Manchester) notably those erected in Piccadilly adjoining the imposing pile of buildings which comprised the Manchester Infirmary, Lunatic Asylum and Public Baths. The actual site of the Baths was in Bath Street which is now known as Parker Street and backed onto Mosley Street……..The actual date of opening of the Public Baths….was in the year 1781. The first Superintendent was  W. Calow, and he was succeeded by a John Haworth, who for many years had been a Councillor for St. George’s Ward.’
‘The latest record of these Baths being in use was in the advertisement which appeared in the Manchester Guardian on Saturday, May 24th 1845, which stated that the Manchester Public Baths at the Infirmary Gates were open, and outlined various classes of Baths along with charges made, these it was stated, being greatly reduced terms.’
(Teasdale, 1945)

The Rippon Spa Baths were established.

The Jewish community of Liverpool founded a Community Bath for their use in connection with the Frederick Street Synagogue in 1789. (Andrew Semple Letter 7.2.96)

‘A private bathing establishment was situated at the end of the New Quay, and from this has been derived the name Bath Street.  In 1794 the Liverpool Corporation purchased this establishment at a cost of about £4,000, and expended £1,000 additional in embellishing and making large alterations on the original plan.  This building was demolished in 1820 to make way for the Princess Dock’ (Liverpool City Council).

‘The first Public Baths in Glasgow were erected in 1800 by a philanthropist, Mr. William Harley, and were situated in Baths Street at the head of Nile Street, and consisted of four small Swimming Baths (cold water only) and five stretching Baths for men and five for women.’ (Teasdale Chapter 5).

Leamington Pump-room Spa Baths opened (110 x 40 ft & 70 x 30 ft)

A floating bath, launched in 1816, was moored at the pier head in Liverpool. (Liverpool City Council).

‘The inhabitants of Burslem….are respectfully informed that the Public Bath, Burslem, at the Boycers, is open to the Public.’  The first bath-keeper was James Garner.  (Potteries Mercury July 1824)

Mr. Chadwicke published a report on the ‘Sanitary conditions of the working classes’ (Campbell p.3)

The Liverpool District Provident Society paid a grant to a cellar that was fitted up with washing tubs, hot and cold water and a drying room at No. 162 Upper Frederick Street. Some 70 to 90 families made use of this Washing Cellar weekly for five years. The superintendent of the cellar was named Kitty Wilkinson. ‘The largest number of clothes washed during one week was in August 1832, during the prevalence of cholera when 158 sheets, 140 dozen of clothes, 110 blankets, 60 quilts and 34 bed-ticks were washed for those ill of cholera, and 120 sheets and 60 shirts were lent to them.’ (Provident Society Appeal June 1837).  In June 1837 an appeal was launched for funds but the cellar closed.

The first public swimming baths to be operated by a municipal authority in this country were the St. George’s Pier Head Baths, Liverpool.

‘As the Corporation had no powers to operate these baths they were hired out to a Lessee on an annual rental basis.  On the passing of the 1846 ‘Act to encourage the establishment of Public Baths and Wash-houses and open Bathing Places’, the Corporation immediately terminated the lease and took control of the establishment’(Institute of Baths Management Students Manual No.5 Baths Administration).

This building was erected in 1828. (Allsop 1894), However the foundations were treacherous and the baths were eventually demolished in 1906. (Liverpool City Council).

The Liverpool City Council opened the first bath and wash house at Upper Frederick Street on the 28th May 1842. (Liverpool City Council; Campbell). Following public advertisement, that attracted 104 applications, Mr. Andrew Clarke and his wife were appointed the first keeper and matron. (Dobie) ‘The ‘stalls’ were  made of wood with washing and boiling troughs lined with lead; for wringing the wet clothes there was the old hand-operated mangle.  At that time the clothes were dried overnight in the cellars heated by coke braziers.  The clothes were hung on rails at the end of the day, the fires were then lit and the doors locked for the night.  The next morning the women would return to collect their clothes.  On occasions the temperature in the cellars when opened would be so high that the long earrings worn by the women of those days would become hot and burn their necks.’ (Baths Service)

In September, 1844 the Lord Mayor of London convened a meeting for the formation of an; ‘Association for Promoting Cleanliness among the People’. As a result the first baths and wash-houses in London were constructed in Glasshouse Yard, near the London Docks. A second building was constructed at Goulston Square, Whitechapel. This second building was not so successful and use gradually declined and the building closed. It was later taken over by the Vestry of Whitechapel. (Campbell p.3)

In 1846, chiefly owing to the efforts of Sir C. Scudamore, another establishment was erected by a private association in George Street, Euston Square. This building was successful and in addition to the baths and washing conveniences had a department for the ‘cleansing, purifying and disinfecting the dwellings of the poor.’  This building relied upon the free supply of water from the New River Company. However, when this company disposed of the reservoir supplying the establishment this building closed.

Under the 1846 Liverpool Sanitary Act the Council appointed the country’s first medical health officer: Doctor Duncan.

Paul Street Baths and Wash house, Liverpool was opened and Mr and Mrs Andrew Clarke moved from their positions at the Upper Frederick Street establishment to this much larger building.  Kitty Wilkinson was appointed to the position of Matron at the Upper  Frederick Street Baths (Dobie).

First Baths & Washouses Act enabled Local Authorities to provide public baths, including open air swimming baths.

St. Marylebone L.C.C. Baths opened.

Eastwood Baths, Hanley was opened by the proprietors of Eastwood Mills.  Hot and cold water was available in individual baths and there was a large swimming bath. (Warrillow)

The first baths and wash house establishment in Nottingham was opened during December on the site of the present day Victoria Leisure Centre.  ‘The cost was estimated at £2,713, and the establishment consisted of 24 washing tubs with suitable drying stores. six private baths and two large open tepid baths, one for men 52’ by 12’ (oval in shape) and the other for women 27’ by 12’’ (Baths Bulletin January, 1945).

Hallgalth Square Wash Baths, Sunderland opened.

Cornwallis Street Baths, Liverpool opened.

Saul Street Baths, Preston opened.

The first Baths Committee in Liverpool was formed which showed a growing recognition regarding the importance of bathing and washing facilities which were so desperately needed in a growing City.

Hoegate Street Wash Baths, Plymouth opened.

Greengate Baths (Collier Street) Salford was founded on the original site of the Salford Union Workhouse and was opened in 1856 by the Manchester and Salford Baths & Laundries Company. The building was designed by a local architect Thomas Worthington. Over half the original building has been demolished and what remains is Grade II listed and on the English Heritage Buildings At Risk Register. 

Mayfield Baths (Swimming Bath, Wash Bath, Turkish Bath) Manchester was opened by the Manchester and Salford Baths & Laundries Company.  Purchased by Manchester City Council on 29th September, 1877.

Mayfield Baths, Manchester


Charles Bartholomew and David Urquhart reintroduced the Turkish bath with their first undertaking in Bedminster, Bristol.

In July a Bathing Station was opened on the banks of the River Trent, Nottingham.

St. Petersgate Baths, Stockport opened.

Corporation Baths, Derby opened.

Leaf Street Baths (Swimming Bath, Wash Bath, Turkish Bath) Manchester was opened by the Manchester and Salford Baths & Laundries Company.  Purchased by Manchester City Council on 29th September, 1877.

Leaf Street Baths, Manchester


A Turkish Bath was opened at the Victoria Baths, Nottingham.

The London Hammam, a privately operated public Turkish Bath was erected and opened. This building was located in Jermyn Street. The driving force behind this development was David Urquhart and the building was constructed to designs provide by Somers Clarke. (Allsop,1890 p.18)

King’s Meadow Baths, Reading opened – 120 x 66 ft.

Warrington Baths, comprising four separate swimming baths, was built by private enterprise.  The establishment was acquired by the Town Council in 1873.

Amateur Swimming Association founded.

The Charing Cross Floating Bath was moored in the Thames near to Charing Cross Pier. This was a covered construction inside which a pool 135ft by 25ft with a water capacity of 150,000 gallons was formed. ‘This pool was filled by a continuous flow of river water pumped through a filtering apparatus (said to remove all suspended matter), heated and then aerated by discharge fountains. The pump and filtering apparatus could fill the pool in six hours.’ (Untitled NABS Manual)

This early attempt at water filtration in swimming pools relied upon the use of ‘sponge filters’….’namely,  cylinders filled with sponge compressed by a screwed down piston when the filter was at work.  For cleaning, the piston was raised by a screw and was connected to a steam cylinder which worked the piston up and down thus cleaning the sponge, namely, by alternate expansion and compression.’ (Baths and Engineering April, 1934)

Manchester appointed a Committee to report on the desirability of making the provision of municipal Baths and Wash-houses.

Baths & Washouses Act empowered Local Authorities to provide covered swimming baths.

The Fisherlad’s Institute was built in Grimsby for the benefit of 2,000 young fisherlad’s and contained amongst other things a ‘commodious swimming bath’ (Baths Service, March 1972).

The first swimming bath built by Manchester City Council was New Islington Baths opened on May 1st 1880.

A mechanical filtration system was patented by Mr. Perrett.  The original filter material was animal charcoal, but this was later replaced by quartz and sand.  the patent included the air-cleaning process. (Baths and Engineering April, 1934)

First wave machine operating in an pool in the USA. (Dawes, 1979)

Whitworth Baths, Ashton Old Road Openshaw, Manchester opened 1890. Designed by Manchester architect J. W. Beaumont in honour of celebrated philanthropist and engineer Sir Joseph Whitworth, whose name is remembered throughout Manchester in many street names, parks in in particular his home which is now the Whitworth Art Gallery

In May, what may be the first Mechanical Filtration system, was installed at the Bolton Baths.

Experimental Filtration and Aeration Plant for the purification of swimming Bath water was installed at Newton Heath Baths, Manchester. (Teasdale)

Filtration plant installed into pool at Bury (NABS manual)

Trial of equipment for the Chlorination of Swimming bath water undertaken at Victoria Baths, Manchester. (Teasdale)

Opening of a swimming pool at the Victoria Baths, Manchester for exclusive use by females.

On the 20th January the first Annual General Meeting of the Association of Baths Superintendents took place at Pitfield Baths, Shoreditch.

Sun Ray Baths opened at Whitworth Baths and Victoria Baths, Manchester.

Introduction of mixed bathing on Sundays at Victoria Baths, Manchester.

First mechanical wave machine was installed into the Open-Air Swimming Pool, Portobello, Edinburgh.

The Earls Court Swimming Pool opened with a 720 ton Moving Platform (moveable floor).  The pool was 195’ x 95’.  The platform was manufactured by the Fraser and Chalmers Engineering Works of the General Electric Company Ltd and operated in three sections. The platform could be raised up to 5’ above the surrounding floor level to create a elevated stage. (Baths and Engineering September 1937)

First mechanical wave machine was installed, free of charge, into the indoor Kilmarnock Baths by Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd, of Kilmarnock.

The first ‘Aeratone’ installation was opened to the public at the Carnegie Baths, Dunfermline on December 12th.  The Aeratone Therapeutic Bath was developed by Prof. William Oliver of the university of Edinburgh.  The Bath was originally manufactured and marketed by Turbulyr Products Ltd.

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2 Responses to “Timeline”

  1. […] Baths and Washhouses Baths and Washhouses for the Industrious Classes & other extracts Marylebone Magistrates Court Number 6 Fitzroy Square The past inhabitants of Fitzroy Square The Euston Station and its Arch (NB: Photographs of original station from this post) Euston Grove The Scottish Church in Regent Square (lots of information, history, and the photographs shown here) The Workhouse Foundling Voices (images of the Hospital) […]

  2. Glenn J says:

    My mom is 92 yrs old, She is Dorothy, M Larson
    her 6 br and sisters all used wood tub, sat
    so 3 adults and 6 kids had to add new water
    Then it was off to Huxley at 5pm___sat, night wash up
    the room was 10 foot wide

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