Victorian London - Health and Hygiene - Baths and Bathing - Greenwich Baths and Laundries


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This handsome establishment, situated at the entrance to the town of Greenwich and opened on September 1 has already afforded abundant evidence of success, in the following statement:- Number of bathers to October 31 - men, 14,752; women, 2054; children, 174 total, 17,010. Receipts: bathers, &c. 206 15s 5d.; by sale of annual tickets, 82 19s.; total, 289 14. 5d It is very evident that the building will soon require extension , and it is gratifying to find that the prognostications of those who opposed its establishment, on the grounds of its being a burden to the ratepayers, are not likely to be verified.
    The origin of the institution is briefly as follows:- in the early part of the past year the proposition was made to erect a building under Sir Henry Dukinfield's Act, by some of the parishioners; and, although the most strenuous opposition was made to this project in the public vestry, yet, upon an appeal being made to the parishioners at large, they decided by an overwhelming majority that their town should be among the first to follow in the footsteps of those who had set so worthy an example in the metropolis, by erecting what has been termed the "Model Establishment."
    The first stone of the Greenwich building was laid on the 14th of September 1850 and, notwithstanding many obstacles to impede the works, was opened for public use on the 1st of September, 1851, after having been inspected by more than 4000 persons on the Friday previous.
    On the opining day, considerably more than 300 persons availed themselves of the advantages offered to them; and it is gratifying to add that the majority of these consisted of second-class bathers, the poor of the neighbourhood; persons who, from their poverty, were hitherto unable to enjoy the cleanly luxury of a bath.
    This establishment deserves especial notice from the novel arrangement of the plan, which combines strict supervision with great economy of management, and it is stated to be worked at (proportionately) a very much smaller annual charge than any now in existence.
    The style of building is Jacobean, or that of the reign of James I., and the red brick facings and Caen stone dressing are very effective. The architect is Mr. Robert Ritchie, of the firm of Brandon and Ritchie, 11, Beaufort-buildings, Strand. The plan comprises 37 warm baths, 1 shower and vapour baths, and 2 large plunging baths with the requisite accommodation for the superintendent and matron, waiting-room for every class: the whole being arranged to meet the requirements of the Act of Parliament.
    The warm baths are of porcelain ware, the patent of Messrs. Rufford and Finch and the plunging baths are lined with Orsi and Armini's metallic lava. The engineer's works have been fitted by Mr. Wm. Jeakes, of Great Russell-street; and the general contractor for the structure was Mr. Thomas Burton.

Illustrated London News, July-Dec., 1851