Only rarely have
I found that women and men were charged differently, even though few
women had any disposable income of their own. Before 1881, the lowest
charges most frequently found were 6d and 1/-; afterwards, 1/- was the
most common. This was usually for the second or third class Turkish baths, but
the class difference frequently meant different times of the day rather
than inferior facilities or, sometimes, that the bather had to bring her
were able to take Turkish baths in hotels or fashionable hydros. We know
that many women visited such establishments on their own because Dr
Barter’s hydro had been served by its own St Anne’s railway station
on the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway since 1888 and, five years later, it was found necessary to add a Ladies’
Waiting Room to meet their needs.
cleanliness was almost impossible for those who were too poor to afford even 6d for a Turkish
bath. During most of the nineteenth century, few people had their own
toilets (indoors or out) and few had easily accessible running cold
water, let alone hot. Additionally, there was still a tax on soap of 3d
per lb which was not repealed until 1853. But the recent cholera
epidemics, and the reports of Chadwick and others, were beginning to
focus attention on the problems of sanitation and personal
was in this context that the Ladies’ National Association for the
Diffusion of Sanitary Knowledge (later the Ladies’ Sanitary
Association) was founded in the Autumn of 1857 for ‘the diffusion of
sanitary knowledge and the promotion of physical education among the
published, and widely distributed, a series of penny tracts on, for
example, The worth of fresh air, The power of soap and water,
and Hints to working people about personal cleanliness.
in the mid 1860s, realising that leaflets and free bars of soap were not
enough, the Cardiff Branch negotiated a deal with the local bath company whereby
Turkish bath tickets issued by the association to deserving cases for a
token sum, would be accepted at the Guildhall Street Baths.
But it is
not known how long this scheme lasted, or whether other branches copied
entrance charges of 6d and 1/- take on a different perspective when compared with
the wages of those who worked in the baths. For example, in 1891,
Gloucester Corporation charged 2/- for a first-class Turkish bath, and
this included a private dressing box, plunge bath, shampooing, and use
of the lounge.
In the same year, at the same baths, a young woman was appointed at 12/-
per week to issue tickets, and a Mrs Turner was engaged as a female
was still there in 1921 and the Corporation presented her with a ‘purse
and contents as a token of appreciation’, though we are not told the
value of the contents.
In 1896, as part of Charles Booth’s Inquiry into
the Life and labour of the people in London, George
Duckworth interviewed James Forder Nevill about his shampooers.
time there were around 40 Turkish baths in London and Nevill suggested
that between them they employed around 100 male, and 20 female,
wage of a shampooer was 20/- (one pound) per week; Nevill’s paid 22/- simply to be
able to say that ‘Nevills pays more than anyone else’.
'standard' rate of pay did not apply to all his employees; women
shampooers were paid only 14/- per week.