Evidence for the opening and closure dates of Turkish baths is difficult
to come by and there are relatively few cases where a date can be said to
Contemporary newspapers and journals, advertisements, council minutes, and
personal letters seem to provide the most verifiable dates. In the lists
which follow, these are indicated by being shown in
date followed only by a dash, eg,
indicates that it
is not known how long an establishment survived.
other dates are to be considered as sightings only, ie, there is
documentary evidence that a Turkish bath existed at a specific location at
around that time. Many of these sightings are from directories which
are known to be dated ahead of their actual publication date.
Often, the information in a specific directory was not completely
revised for that particular edition. It was frequently incorrect in other
ways. For example, the name
s of bath proprietors and managers were not
always up-to-date, nor were they always spelled correctly.
general, the first appearance of an establishment in a directory usually
occurs some time after its actual opening; closures are often
noticed after an even longer interval. These
are indicated in the lists by being shown in
sometimes appears that certain baths may have opened earlier,
or survived later, than is suggested by our best sightings.
signs are used to show this in the lists, but only if it is fairly certain
that that this was actually the case: the minus sign indicates that the
bath is known to have opened earlier than the first sighting; the plus
sign indicates that the bath is known to have closed later than the last
sighting. Some examples of such usage are:
Many, but by no
means all, of the nearly six hundred establishments
appearing in the directory have been found in local directories such as
Kelly's or Slater's. But while these have been extensively used, it is
important to realise that they can never indicate all the establishments
going into a lengthy discussion on directories, it seems important to
indicate some of the constraints which reduced the comprehensiveness of
these lists, while remembering also that it would not only be quite
impossible achieve a comprehensive list—it would not necessarily add
much to our overall picture.
major constraints were:
was only considered feasible to consult those directories which
had a classified trades section—absent in many small town local
of the major directories were selective in what they included and
many streets in poorer areas were only partially listed, or even
directories ceased publication during World War II and few
continued for very long afterwards;
major directories indicated, usually by means of an asterisk,
which bath establishments were, or included, Turkish baths—but
not all of them were shown in this way just as, today, it is
impossible to locate Turkish baths in the Yellow pages.
Those wanting more detailed information on the limitations of directories
will find much of interest in the first part of British directories: a
bibliography and guide to directories published in England and Wales
(1850-1950) and Scotland (1733-1950) by Gareth Shaw and Allison Tipper
(Leicester Univ Pr, 1988).
can you help?
should now be self-evident that the dating of Turkish baths on the website
is in many cases sketchy in the extreme. There must, however, be many
members of local history societies or family historians who know of the
existence of such establishments and have easy access to collections
of local history resources, especially local newspapers and council
the website would benefit immeasurably if visitors to the site could let
us know of any special knowledge they might have about Turkish baths in
their area. Sightings outside our range would be especially helpful. It
would also be much appreciated if any visitors were willing to search for
items in their area—BUT do contact
us first so that you do not duplicate what has already been included
in the database, but not yet published on the website.
goes without saying that any help received will be gratefully acknowledged
on the website. And several family historians have found that we not
only receive help but have sometimes been able to provide further
information which was new to them.