Birmingham – Turkish Baths

The following is taken directly from The City of Birmingham Baths Department 1851 – 1951. The work was written and compiled by J. Moth M.N.A.B.S Birmingham 1951 and is presented here.

Kent Street Baths Plunge Bath & Shampoo RoomsAt a Meeting of the Council on the 1st August, 1876, the Baths Committee were instructed to consider and report if, in their opinion, it would be desirable and practicable to provide a Turkish Bath service or ‘Hot-air Lavatories’ as they were then called, in any of the City’s bathing establishments.

From encouraging reports received of the success of such baths in London and other large towns, the Committee decided that a Turkish Bath Section, preferably at the Kent Street Establishment, would rapidly prove a popular addition to the facilities provided.

In making their report to the Council, the Committee recommended that the Turkish Baths should be installed in that part of the Kent Street Baths occupied by the public wash-house, the attendances at which had declined to a degree which was causing doubt as to whether this service should be continued.

Sanction to the proposals was granted in July, 1878, and Birmingham’s first Turkish Baths were opened on the 27th January, 1879.

The accommodation included fourteen dressing compartments flanking a plunge bath ‘4. 6ins. long, 7ft 6ins. wide, with a uniform depth of 5ft. The plunge bath was ‘enclosed with ornamental cast-iron balustrades close-boarded to the height of the hand-rail, and above curtains are fixed with brass rods to a height of six feet’. Adjacent to the plunge bath were the tepidarium and calidarium or warm and hot rooms, kept at temperatures of 145 deg. F. and 193 deg. F. respectively, and adjoining was the shampooing room fitted with one marble slab and a needle, douche and shower bath. The lounge was situated on the first floor with access from the plunge room, and contained eight rest cubicles.

The Turkish Baths achieved instant popularity, and there was no hesitation in providing a similar service at the Monument Road Establishment when this Bath came to be built.

Due to lack of space when the Monument Road Baths was rebuilt on a site limited through the revised building line, it was not possible to reinstate the Turkish Baths, but it was felt that the new and enlarged Section at Kent Street could cater for patrons who previously used the Monument Road facilities.

Kent Street Baths Turkish Baths LoungeThe new Section at Kent Street was installed in the reconstructed building opened in 1933, and is indeed a service of which Birmingham may rightly be proud. There is a spacious lounge with twenty—two dressing cubicles, three hot rooms, two Russian (steam) cabinets, four shampooing rooms, needle spray set and tiled plunge bath. The colour scheme and furnishings give effect to what may be claimed to be one of the finest suites of Turkish Baths in the country.

Turkish Baths were wisely included in the Handsworth Local Board’s plans for the Grove Lane Baths, opened on 28th January, 1907, and on taking over these premises under the Greater Birmingham Scheme, the City acquired the excellent facilities provided by the foresight of the Local Board.

There is a further suite of Turkish Baths at the Erdington Establishment, opened on 6th May, 1925, giving Birmingham today three establishments at which one may enjoy the experience of a bath of this description.

 

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