one point of view, the choice of establishments was excellent, the
London Hammam being the London Turkish bath, operated by a
limited liability company and designed by David Urquhart, the guru of
the Victorian Turkish Bath Movement. Each of the other two was part
of a group. Charles Bartholomew, Foreign Affairs Committee
disciple of Urquhart, owned a total of seven similar baths in various
parts of England on his death in 1889, and Nevill's Turkish Baths, which
operated only in London, at that time owned seven establishments of
the other hand, the Hammam was, as the interviewer wrote 'the most
aristocratic in London' and the other two were at the middle and upper
levels of the market. So it must be assumed that the conditions
described in these establishments were probably better, and in some
cases much better, than in the majority of smaller, less long-lived
In 1896, the year of these interviews,
were at least 36 Turkish baths in London, so that three establishments is a small
and a modern survey would doubtless wish to include some of the more
expensive establishments to get a more balanced view.
is a pity also, though no fault of Booth, that local authorities in
London were so slow to open Turkish baths. No comparison can be made,
therefore, between conditions in privately owned baths and those in
publicly funded facilities. But they were quicker in the provinces:
we know, for example, the wages of some of the staff at the Barton Street Turkish
Baths in Gloucester, and these will be discussed briefly in due course, below.
Turkish Bath, 23 Leicester Square
When Charles Bartholomew died in 1889 he
also owned Turkish baths in Bristol, Manchester, Worcester,
Birmingham, Bath, and Eastbourne. Though he had children of his own, he
left all his establishments to Bassalissa Harriet Herriott, daughter of
William Mosdell Herriott who had himself owned two Turkish baths in
Manchester. Apart from the establishment in Bath (which she gave to
Bartholomew's niece, Kate), Bassalissa sold all the remaining baths except this
one. At some stage, she had married a Mr Kenny, who was then, or perhaps
became, the Manager. Mr E D Kenny
(sometimes elsewhere spelled Kenney)
interviewed on 20 April 1896.
The London Hammam, 76 Jermyn Street
same interviewer visited the Hammam on 22 April 1896. Although
s/he refers to James Waugh as Manager of the Hammam, his rôle
was different from that of Mr Kenny in Leicester Square. Waugh had
joined the London & Provincial Turkish Bath Company in 1870 as a 39 year old
temporary Company Secretary, and he was to remain its secretary until 1907. The manager's functions would have been undertaken at the Hammam
by a Superintendent, a Foreman Shampooer, and a Housekeeper.
Urquhart's day onward, the company had a caring attitude to its staff,
though this did not always prevent shampooers from breaking the company's
rules about tipping. There had been trouble on this
score some three years earlier due in the main to the Hammam going through a
particularly bad patch with a consequent diminution in the amount of
notes Waugh's frank comment that
has not been so prosperous of late years as when first started partly
owing to the increase of Baths in London, but still more from the fact
that people go out of town so much more than they used to, especially
on Saturday and Sunday.
he omitted to mention that the level of service and cleanliness had
fallen during the previous few years after the deaths of several of the
Nevill's Turkish Baths,
25 Northumberland Avenue
G.H.D [George H Duckworth] visited Nevill's
on 23 April 1896 where [he maintains that] he spoke with D. T.
Nevill, the Turkish Bath Proprietor. In
this he was mistaken for the only two proprietors at this time were
James Forder Nevill and Henry Nevill (a barrister).
It seems most likely that the
interview was with a knowingly successful James Forder Nevill. Indeed, we
learn from him far more about the general state of Turkish baths in London at
that time than from either of the other
two interviewees .
interviewer reports not only the factual answers to his questions but
also reports all his many asides as, for example, his remarks on shampooers'
still have a name
for drink. All take a
large quantity of beer. Thirsty work. But drunkenness
is less common than it was. He sacks a drunk
man at once. … Customers
are less willing now than formerly to be shampooed by a drunkard.
that he has a cynical view of the claims of Turkish bath proprietors
he knows is called
1. The Largest
2. The best ventilated
3. The most luxurious
suggests that there were less than '100 male shampooers in London & 12
wd cover the Female shampooers'
notes the existence of a related professional, the masseuse.
a good many masseuses; about 20 I wd
say round about Piccadilly. Has never been to one
but many of his customers have spoken to him
about them from experience. Customers who
have gone in expecting medical treatment [?] are put in a bath &
then electricity is applied by the masseuse.
Most of them he hears are procuresses, They
have sleeping rooms upstairs. It is a new
form of the business & has not been in
vogue for more than two or 3 years. Probably
the police could give a good deal of
information about them.
the survey, interviewers
also tried to speak with appropriate trade union representatives, but
here there was none to be found.
to be a Trade Society. He thinks it has been dead for 3 or 4 years. The organ of the Shampooers Society is a
Islington local paper with offices within
100 yds of the Angel. Called the ‘Islington
? Gazette’. He was at daggers drawn with
the Soc when it did exist.
indication that there had been one is the only such indication so far
found, and further research is needed in this area.