Stoke-on-Trent – Burslem Baths

Burslem Baths was officially opened 25th January 1896. However, the wording of a newspaper article entitled; ‘OPENING THE BURSLEM CORPORATION BATHS’ appearing in the Staffordshire Advertiser – Saturday 25 January 1896, suggests that the swimming baths were open to the public from 1894. The official opening followed the completion of the building works that included the erection of the front block, which contained the administrative offices, Turkish Baths and other accommodation.

Burslem Baths 1963 Source Facebook Stoke Is Where The Heart Is

The article presents a description of the Official opening by Mr. R. N. Wood. Mr Wood’s family had donated the land upon which the baths was constructed.

Staffordshire Advertiser – Saturday 25 January 1896
The article presents the following detailed description of the establishment;

The building stands opposite the entrance to Burslem Station in Moorland road. The front is of classic design, executed in red brick and red terra-cotta, and is undoubtedly an addition to the architecture of the town. There are three main entrances from Moorland road, the centre one giving access to the ladies private or slipper baths, and the caretaker’s apartments, which are on the first floor, and also top the ticket office.

The entrance on the town side gives access to the second class swimming bath, the gentlemen’s private baths, and the Turkish, vapour, and Russian baths.

The remaining entrance, nearest the railway, leads to the first class swimming bath.

Glazed bricks and tiles have been largely incorporated in the interior construction of the baths, the walls in some departments having a dado in colours 6ft. high. Above that being red-pressed brick-work, relieved with buff in bands or patterns, whilst in other departments the walls are tiled in relief from floor to ceiling, plastering being discarded, except for the ceilings.

The attendant in the ticket office commands the approaches to all departments, and they are all in communication with the office by means of electric bells. All hot and cold water pipes are exposed to view none being built into the walls, this being done to facilitate repairs.

Passing the Ticket Office, the first class swimming bath is approached by means of a corridor 6ft. wide, the water area of this bath being 60ft by 28ft and the depth varies form 3ft 6in at the shallow end to 6ft at the deep end. The bath holds 50,000 gallons of water. The sides of the bath are lined with white glazed tiles relieved with two bands of green tiles; the flooring round is of concrete. There are 41 dressing boxes, the woodwork of which is stained and varnished. Alongside is the second class baths, which is similarly constructed,  but the size is a little larger viz. 75ft by 33ft. The depth for ordinary occasions is the same, although this can be increased 12in for entertainments. The baths holds 74,000 gallons of water, and has 51 dressing boxes, and a gallery is constructed over these round the entire building so that about 1,000 spectators can be accommodated at an entertainments.

Both swimming baths are splendidly lights by roof lights, which run from end to end of the building, and the first class bath is lighted as night by two 2,000 candle-power arc lights, the lamps in the second class bath being the same in number but of 3,000 candle power each.

There are sixteen private or slipper baths provided – four first class and eight second class for gentlemen, and four on the first floor for ladies. These are of enamelled iron, with large roll on edge. They will not be cased in wood, but left open to facilitate cleanliness. Each bath will be provided with a cold shower and usual accessories.

Coming to the Turkish department, a visitor will be immediately struck on entering the cooling or dressing room with its pleasing appearance. The floor is laid with encaustic tiles. The walls from floor to ceiling are lined with tiles to pattern, and in various colour, and the ensemble with furniture and fittings is most artistic. The room is 33ft by 22ft and is lighted by three large windows, double glazed to prevent draught and sound, and at night by nine incandescent lights of 16 candle power each. Along a short corridor is the first hot room, and here again the effect of the wall tiling is most pleasing, although the colouring is quite different, being in various shades of brown, which give a warm effect. The size of the room is 22ft square, and it is lighted by two ceiling lights filled with glass of various tints to harmonize with the wall tiling. At night this room is lighted by five 16-candle-power incandescent lamps.

Leading from this room to the right is a smaller hot room, the walls of which are tiled in a plainer style but with good effect. To the left is the lavatory or shampooing room, which is admirably fitted with all the latest improvements.

Leading out of this room,, but on the opposite side to the first hot room, are the Russian and vapour bath, 18ft long by 12ft wide. The whole of the walls of the last mentioned rooms are tiled with plain tiles, relieved with bands of red and brown.

Not the least pleasing feature of the Turkish department are the elegant Moorish doorways, which give access from one room to another. These are got up in embossed tiles and have very food effect.

The electric installation has been supplied and fixed by Messrs. Crompton and Co., of Chelmsford and London, for whom Mr. Geo. Heath, of Burslem, has acted as manager and consists of a dynamo of 110 volts and 65 amperes, running at a speed of 1,100 revolutions per minute. The dynamo is worked by the same engine which was originally put down to work the laundry machinery, and which now works both. The installation consists of three arc lamps of 3,000 candle power each; two arc lamps of 2,000 candle power each, nine incandescent lamps of 32 candle power each, and 37 incandescent lamps of 16 candle power each.

The laundry, which contains all the latest appliances for washing and drying, is placed at the back of the block of buildings adjoining the first class swimming bath.

The two boilers for generating steam being placed under the private baths.

Ernest Warrilow
According to Ernest Warrilow’s Sociological History of the City of Stoke-on-Trent (Etruscan Publications 1960)

‘Public baths were opened in Moorland Road, Burslem, almost opposite to the station, in January, 1896. Similar in construction to Longton; the building was of red brick with terra-cotta facings and cost £10,680. It contained two large baths, one 25 yards long and the other 20 yards, in addition to 16 private baths and Turkish baths. During the first year, over 25,500 men and 1,360 women, exclusive of child­ren, went to the baths. The receipts for the year 1897-98 amounted to £403. The baths were lighted by electricity, the dynamos for which were coupled to the machinery already at the baths. Today (1958) these baths are well used.’

Agnes Campbell B.A. 1918
According to The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust Report on Public Baths and Wash-Houses in the United Kingdom by Agnes Campbell B.A. 1918,

The building provided the following facilities:

Swimming Baths
60ft x 28ft
75ft x 33ft

Slipper Baths
Male 12
Female 4
Vapour Baths

In addition there was also a large Turkish Baths

Stoke-on-Trent Historic Building Survey
A diagram of Burslem Baths was created in 1982 during the Stoke-on-Trent Historic Building Survey and is reproduced by kind permission of HMSO.According to the Stoke-on-Trent Historic Building Survey

https://www.search.staffspasttrack.org.uk/search.aspx?SearchType=2&ThemeID=549

That survey states:

‘Burslem Public Baths were on Moorland Road alongside the Loop Line and opposite Burslem Station entrance. Behind was a narrow lane that lead to Chapel Lane. The Loop Line ran under Moorland Road and the bridge is just beyond the last vehicle parked outside the baths. Opened in January 1896, the baths had two pools, private baths and a Turkish bath. The baths are similar to those in Longton, built of red brick with terra-cotta facings. They proved very popular, over 25,000 men used the baths in the first year of opening. The building has been demolished and the site used for commercial purposes.

This is an overall plan of the public baths on Moorland Road in Burslem. It shows the position of the various pools and the different entrances for first class men, second class men and ladies. Rooms within the building comprise:

– First class swimming bath surrounded by dressing boxes
– Second class swimming bath with dressing boxes and a gallery overhead
– Hot Room
– Shampooing Room
– Vapour Bath
– Cooling and dressing room
– Plunge bath room
– Slipper baths
– Foot baths

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