How the Turkish baths in the directory
have been found and dated
 
    

                           

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

        

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How the directory is arranged

Lists of Turkish baths—arranged by area and by user

              

 


Dating the baths

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 be
reasonably accurate.  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 blue type, eg, 1882—1890.

A date followed only by a dash, eg, 1862— indicates that it is not known how long an establishment survived.

All 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.

In 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 sightings are indicated in the lists by being shown in red type, eg, 1865—1869 or 1875—1917

It sometimes appears that certain baths may have opened earlier,  or survived later, than is suggested by our best sightings.  The  - and + 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:   -1871—19021879—1885+  and -1878—1883+.

Locating the baths
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 which existed.

Without 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.

The major constraints were:
      

a.

it was only considered feasible to consult those directories which had a classified trades section—absent in many small town local directories;

b.

most of the major directories were selective in what they included and many streets in poorer areas were only partially listed, or even omitted;

c.

many directories ceased publication during World War II and few continued for very long afterwards;

d.

the 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).

Please can you help?
It 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 minutes.

Clearly, 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.

It 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.

How the directory is arranged

Lists of Turkish baths—arranged by area and by user

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

 
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