Turkish baths since 1990: closed, threatened, & a re-opening

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

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Turkish baths since 1990: losses, and a rebirth

Bargraph of closures 1989-2023 

When the Victorian Turkish Bath Project started collecting data in 1990, there were at least thirty-four Turkish baths built on the Victorian model still open in the British Isles, though there were no longer any in Ireland where the first one opened in 1856.

In November 1999, when this website first went online, there were only twenty-three Turkish baths remaining, the last one in Wales having closed in 1998, and when this page was last revised, in February 2023, there were only eleven remaining.

This includes one which was closed in 2013, but recently, due to the effort and perseverence of @FriendsCityBath, in conjunction with @Fusion_LS and with the support of @TheCityBaths, Newcastle's 1920s Turkish baths re-opened as part of the refurbished City Baths. Truly a milestone.

However, since then, and despite all the hard work of the local group @FriendsBaths, the beautifully tiled Carlisle Turkish baths, dating from 1909, was closed by the local council in November 2022. So, sadly, the number of Turkish baths remaining open reverts to eleven.

Turkish baths closed since 1990

ClosedLocationWhen open
1990 GLASGOW: Calder Street (99), Govanhill 19171990
1990 SHEFFIELD: Glossop Road / Victoria Street / Convent Walk 18771990
 1990+ BLACKPOOL: Warley Road, North Promenade   19651990+
1993 MANCHESTER: Victoria Baths, High Street, Chorlton-in-Medlock 19061993
1995 GLASGOW: Medwyn Street, Whiteinch 19261995
1996 ESTON: Normanby Road 19641996
1997 STANLEY: High Street 19751997
1998 STOCKTON-ON-TEES: Church Road 19691998
1998 CARDIFF: Wales Empire Pool 19581998
1998 GLOUCESTER: Barton Street 18911998
2000 GATESHEAD: Alexandra Road, Gateshead Leisure Centre 19812000
2001 EPSOM: East Street 19392001
2002 LONDON: Lewisham High Street 19652002
2007 WHITLEY BAY, The Links 19742007
2008 WORCESTER: Sansome Walk 18602008
2008 ABERDEEN: Justice Mill Lane 19402008
2008 DUNFERMLINE: Pilmuir Road 19052008
2010 NOTTINGHAM: Bath Street 19752010
2011 NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYNE: Marsh Street 19792011
2012 ROCHDALE: Entwistle Road 19372012
2013 NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE: Northumberland Road (Bath Road) 19282013
2013 DONCASTER: Waterdale 19322013
2017 BIRMINGHAM: Mason Road, Erdington 19252017
2022 CARLISLE: James Street 19092022
     


Turkish baths under threat

Closed Location When open
? SWINDON: Faringdon Road / Milton Road 1905
     

Turkish baths re-opened

Closed Location When re-opened
2013 NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE: Northumberland Road (Bath Road) 2021
     

Currently, of the eleven remaining Turkish baths, one (Swindon) is under threat of closure. The Swindon baths are especially important in the history of Victorian Turkish baths because, taken in conjunction with their earlier premises on the opposite side of Faringdon Road, they are the oldest extant Turkish bath institution in the world, having originally opened in 1868.

And of those remaining, three (two in Glasgow and one in London) are only open to members of the clubs which own them, leaving a grand total of eight Turkish baths currently open to members of the general public in the whole of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Of these eight, only the Turkish baths in Harrogate and Edinburgh were built during the reign of Queen Victoria. The baths owned by the two members' clubs in Glasgow were both built during Victoria's reign, while those in London's RAC Club were designed during her reign and built shortly afterwards.

The baths at Nottingham were especially important as they were the last modern interpretation of the Victorian Turkish bath concept to be built in the final quarter of the twentieth century, 128 years after the first Manchester baths opened.

There are only two bright spots on the horizon.

The possibility of eventually re-opening the superb Turkish Baths in the Victoria Baths complex at Manchester, and those at the Govanhill baths in Glasgow.


This page last updated 15 February 2023

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March to protest at closure of the Victoria Baths, Manchester


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  Malcolm Shifrin, 1991-2023