Stoke-on-Trent – Longton Baths

Opened Wednesday, July 13th, 1881.

Longton Baths 1953

Ernest Warrilow

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

The baths were built on ground by the railway station and their erection made such rapid progress that they were opened nine months after the foundation stone was laid.

The opening ceremony took place on Wednesday, July 13th, 1881.The building, which cost £8,000, was erected in the style known as Ornamental Gothic in red brick with stone facings, surmounted by a clock turret at the east end. The large bath, 70 feet long by 30 feet wide, with depths ranging from 3 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 3 inches, held 60,000 gallons of water. There was a second-class bath 55 feet by 30 feet. Private baths were also available. There was a laundry with washing machines driven by a 5 h.p. engine christened ” Ethel,” after the Mayoress of Long­ton, Ethel Holdcroft.

To mark the occasion of the opening a swimming display was given and an extra­ordinary incident took place near to the end of the programme.

The appearance of a “nondescript,” who notwithstanding the efforts of the police stationed at the entrance of the baths succeeded in jumping, fully clothed, into the middle of the bath.

“His efforts at swimming or sinking being frantic in the extreme caused considerable horror and consternation.” In her anxiety an old lady, seated near the side of the bath, endeavored to save the unfortunate man by reaching out with her umbrella, but after a short struggle to effect a rescue, she, herself, fell into the bath ” umbrella and all ” with a loud splash. A policeman stationed in one of the ladies’ galleries, seeing what was going on, called: ” Stand clear!” and suddenly took a terrific dive from his elevated position into the water and a struggle ensued in the effort to save the old lady who was drowning. It was not until the ” nondescript ” in the water had stripped himself of his outer garments to join effectively in the now grave situation that it was realised that his initial appearance and display of drown­ing had been a hoax.

Today (1958) the public baths at Longton are in an advanced stage of decay. Because of damage caused by mining subsidence both swimming baths have been closed for many years. Cracks may be seen across the begrimed bottoms and side of the baths, the whole presenting a dirty and depressing picture. On one occasion the water in the smaller of the two baths disappeared overnight after the bath had been completely emptied for cleaning during the day and refilled. In addition the larger bath in which the galas were held leaked so badly that it also had to be closed. Thus the baths have remained empty and useless for many years and only the private baths are now in use, the staff having been reduced to a very small number.

Longton Baths 14th July 1968 Carol Townley StokeIsWhereTheHeartIs

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,

Longton Baths provided the following:
Swimming Baths

69ft x 30ft
55ft x 30ft
Slipper Baths
Male 16
Female 8
Turkish Bath (may simply have been a vapour bath)

Longton Baths Entrance Carol Townley StokeIsWhereTheHeartIs

The swimming Baths closed in 1948. The private baths remained open until they also closed in 1963. The building was demolished due to subsidence.


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