Malcolm Shifrin

Malcolm Shifrin FRHistS worked as an education librarian before retiring in 1985 as head of the Inner London Education Authority’s central library resources service. In 1973 he wrote the first British textbook on audio-visual librarianship. Since his retirement he has researched the Victorian Turkish bath, writing and maintaining the world’s only website ( ) dealing with the subject. He also presents illustrated lectures. Malcolm is the author of Victorian Turkish Baths (Historic England 2015).

‘Victorian Turkish Baths is the first book to bring to light the hidden history of a fascinating institution – the 600-plus dry hot air baths that sprang up across Ireland, Britain and beyond, in the 19th century.

Malcolm Shifrin traces the bath’s Irish-Roman antecedents and its origins as physician Richard Barter’s hydropathic expertise combined with the passion of idiosyncratic diplomat David Urquhart for the hammams of the Middle East.

The book reveals how working-class members of a network of political pressure groups built more than 30 of the first Turkish baths in England. It explores the architecture, technology and sociology of the Victorian Turkish bath, examining everything from business and advertising to sex in the bath – real and imagined. This book offers a wealth of wondrous detail – from the baths used to treat sick horses to those for first-class passengers on the Titanic.

Victorian Turkish Baths will appeal to those interested in Victorian social history, architecture, social attitudes to leisure, early public health campaigns, pressure groups, gendered spaces and much else besides. The book is complemented by the author’s widely respected website ( ) (opens in a new window), where readers can find a treasure trove of further information.’


Background to the Victorian Turkish bath
Early history of the Victorian Turkish bath
Problems and attitudes
Victorian Turkish baths for all
The world of the bather
Victorian Turkish baths in the 21st century

Victorian Turkish Baths | Historic England

This article originally appeared in Hackney History Volume Fourteen 2008 
Malcolm Shifrin A dream to keep you happy for a week the Dalston Turkish baths 2008

Hackney History – The Friends of Hackney Archives

This article originally appeared in THE EPHEMERIST Journal of the Ephemera Society No. 142 Autumn 2008

Malcolm Shifrin Ephemeral documents of an ephemeral institution researching the Victorian Turkish bath 2008

This article originally appeared in THE EPHEMERIST Journal of the Ephemera Society No. 91 Dec 1995

Malcolm Shifrin Some like it (very) hot 1995

This article originally appeared in Local History Magazine No.57 September/October 1996

Malcolm Shifrin Getting excited over a load of hot air local history & the Victorian Turkish Bath 1996

This article originally appeared in The Gilded Lily The Quarterly Publication of The Ladies’ Tea Guild Summer 2002

Malcolm Shifrin The Victorian Turkish Bath 2002

This article originally appeared in Picture Post Card Monthly No. 201 January 1996

Malcolm Shifrin Victorian Turkish Baths Never been asked for these before 1996

Reflections of a Bygone Age – Postcard Books / Publications (

This article originally appeared in ‘HerStoria’ Magazine Summer 2009

Malcolm Shifrin Women and the Victorian Turkish Bath 2009

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