Stoke-on-Trent – Jubilee Baths Tunstall

Tunstall Baths was built as a part of a set of public buildings in commemoration of the Queen Victoria’s Golden jubilee in 1887. The swimming baths were opened in July 1890.

The buildings were officially opened on the 29th October 1891 by Sir Smith Child and were designed by Absalom Reade Wood.

Tunstall-Baths-by-Bert-Bentley StokeonTrentLive 1964

Birmingham Daily Post – Friday 30 October 1891

These buildings, which cover about an acre of ground, are Renaissance in character, and comprise three distinct blocks. The Victoria Institute, fronting Station Road; the public baths and fire- engine station, with a frontage to Bath Street; and the volunteer armoury, town yard, with workmen’s dwellings, stables, cart sheds, &c.

The Victoria Institute, the most prominent of the group, shows a terra-cotta frieze running round the building, bearing in raised letters the inscriptions “Free Library,” “Public Baths,” “Science and Art Institute,” and, immediately over a low arch- way forming the entrance, “Queen Victoria Jubilee Buildings.”

Description of the Baths contained in the same newspaper article;

The baths contain eight slipper baths, small Turkish bath, with needle and shower baths, and a large swimming bath 72ft. long by 2ft. wide. A separate shower bath is also provided. Broad gangways and dressing boxes-run along both sides of the bath, and a balcony has been erected capable of holding 600 people.

Tunstall Baths Source Stoke Is Where The Heart Is Facebook Group

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

‘Tunstall jubilee baths were opened partly completed, in July, 1890. The swimming bath was 72 feet long by 28 feet wide and held 61,000 gallons of water.’

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 facilities provided included;

Swimming Bath 75ft x 27ft
Male and Female Slipper Baths 13

According to the newspaper report (Birmingham Daily Post – Friday 30 October 1891) the building also contained a small Turkish bath, with needle and shower baths. It may have been that by the date of Anges Campbell’s report in 1918 these facilities had been closed.

Refurbishment

This facility was refurbished in 1988 and a Dance Studio was created within a disused wash bath area in 1992. (Source Council Papers)

Sentinel Newspaper ‘Then and now pictures of Tunstall Baths’ 15th November 2017

Opened in 1890, the idea for the baths originated from Tunstall grandee John Nash Peake, and it was the architect, A R Wood, who was permitted to take the first plunge into the water.

Writing in The Sentinel in 2004, historian Betty Cooper said: “There were first and second-class Turkish baths and vapour baths between the swimming pool and the fire station.

“Patrons paid a shilling for a first-class Turkish bath and sixpence for a second. They were charged sixpence for a first-class vapour bath. A second-class one cost threepence.

“Swimmers paid two-pence or three-pence, at peak periods, to use the pool. Between 4.30pm and 6pm on Mondays and Fridays, schoolboys could go swimming free if accompanied by enough teachers.

“To encourage boys to learn to swim, Peake presented a challenge shield which schools competed for annually.”

In August 2008, Tunstall’s pool was visited by Dr Ian Dungavell, the then director of the Victorian Society. He described the venue as ‘a shining example of the role that historic pools can play in the 21st century’.

But, despite a campaign to keep it open, Tunstall Pool was closed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in March 2011 as part of cost-saving measures.

Tunstall Baths Source Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive April 2021

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