Victorian London - Health and Hygiene - Baths and Bathing - Public Baths

BATHS. Those who luxuriate in bathing will find ample means for their gratification in the various baths with which the metropolis abounds; of which, after a statement of the usual charges, a catalogue is subjoined. List of prices: - Cold bath, 1s. ; warm bath, 3s. 6d.; sea water, 3s.6d.; warm sea water, 7s. 6d.
    Bagnio Court, Newgate Street; Chapel Place, Oxford Street, shower and warm; Cold Bath Fields; Coram Street, warm and cold ; Culverwells, New Bond Street ; George Street, Adelphi, sea water; Great Marlborough Street, chlorine, vapour, and warm, or hot air; Harley Street, warm and shower; Hewitt's, Old Hummums, Covent Garden; King Street, Westminster; Lambeth, near the Marsh Gate; Leicester Square, warm, vapour, salt, cold, and shower; Lothbury, Founder's Court, shampooing, vapour, hot air, sea water, &c. ; New Road, near Fitzroy Square, cold, warm, and shower; Peerless Pool, City Road; St. Mary Axe, warm and cold; Strand Lane, near Somerset House, cold; Suffolk Place, Pall Mall East; and St. Chad's Well, Gray's Inn Lane Road.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

By the time they have finished their pipes [on a Saturday half-holiday] it is probably two o'clock, and they then proceed to clean themselves up - that phrase being equivalent among "the great unwashed" to the society one of performing your toilet. The first part of the cleaning-up process consists in "a good wash", and it is completed by an entire change of dress. A favourite plan of cleaning-up on Saturday afternoons is - among those who live within easy reach of public baths - to take their clean suits to the bath, and put them on after they have bathed, bringing away their working suits tied up in a bundle. Some of the higher-paid mechanics present a very different appearance when cleaned up from that which they presented an hour or two before, when we saw them sauntering out of the shop gates.

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Thomas Wright, Some Habits and Customs of the Working Class, 1867

Baths—The following are the principal:

ALBANY BATHS, 83, York-road, Westminster-bridge-road. Open daily from 6 a.m.. till 10 p.m. Sunday mornings from 6 till 10. Swimming, tepid, 6d.; Hot, 1st class, 1s., and, 6d.; Cold, 1st class, 1s., 2nd, 6d.; Shower, cold, 6d.

ARGYLL BATHS, 10, Argyll-place, Regent - street. — Warm water, Vapour, Sulphur, Harrogate, Douche. Warm bath, 1s. 6d.

BELL’S BATHS, 119, Buckingham Palace-road.—Swimming, cold, 1s; Plunge, 1s.; Shower hot or cold, 1s.;Vapaur, 3s 6d.; Turkish, 3s and 2s.; Douche, 2s.

BERMONDSEY BATHS & WASH HOUSES, 19, Spa-road.—Swimming, tepid, 4d. and 2d,; Hot, 6d. and 2d.; Cold, 3d. and 1d.

BURTON’S BATHS, 182 and 184, Euston-road, N.W—Turkish or Roman baths for ladies and gentlemen. For ladies: from 8 a.m. to  5 p.m., 2s. 6d; from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., 1s. 6d.. For gentlemen, from 7 a.m. to 5p.m., 2s. 6d. ; from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., 1s. 6d.. Annual

non-transferable tickets, £5 5s.;  half-yearly £3 3s.; quarterly, £1 15s. A course of ten baths, £1.

CAMBRIDGE HEATH BRIDGE BATHS, 390, Cambridge Heath.— Hot or cold, a towels and soap, 6d.; Shower, hot or cold, 6d. ; 1st class, 1s. ; Sea-salt, hot or cold, 1s.; Colonial bath, hot, with cold shower, 1s.

CARHAMS BATHS, 100, Walworth. road, Newington. Prepared with sea - salt. Female attendants for ladies. Hot or Cold, 1s.; Shower, hot or cold, 1s.

CHELSEA SWIMMING BATHS, 171 and 173, King’s-road, Chelsea. Swimming, tepid, 1st class, 9d., 2nd, 4d.; Hot, 1st class, 9d., 2nd.  6d. ;  Cold, 1st class, 6d., 2nd1 4d;  Shower, cold, 4d.; Ladies swimming bath, 1st class only, 9d. This establishment consists of three swimming baths, 1st and 2nd class men’s, and a ladies’ swimming bath, and sixteen private baths. During the winter months the baths are used for a public gymnasium. The baths are the property of the Chelsea Swimming Baths Company Limited.

CROWN BATHS, Kennington. oval— One of the largest swimming baths in London. Connecting tram-cars pass the entrance.           Facing the Surrey Cricket Ground. Swimming, 6d.; Hot or Cold, 6d.; ditto, ladies, 9d.

FAULKNERS, 50,Newgate-street. Hot and cold, 1s.; Plunge, 9d., Shower, hot or cold, 1s.; Turkish, 2s. 6d., after 5 p.m., 1s. 6d. ; Douche, 1s. The Turkish bath is open for ladies on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12.30 midday. The shower, if taken with another bath, 6d.

FAULKNER’S, 26, Villiers-street, -  “Brill’s” sea-water baths, 2s., 12 tickets for £1;  Sulphur vapour medicated mineral, 4s., 6 tickets for £1 ; the Sultan bath, 4s., 6 tickets for £1; Russian vapour baths, 3s., 8 tickets for £1; Hot or Cold, 1s.; Shower, hot or cold, 1s.; Vapour, 3s., or 8 tickets for £1; Douche, 1s. 3d., or 12 tickets for 12s. If the shower is taken with ordinary bath only 6d. is charged.

FAULKNER’S, Great Eastern Railway-station. Fenchurch-street. —Hot or Cold, 1s.; Shower, hot or cold, 1s. The shower, if taken with other baths, 1s 6d.

HAMMAM TURKISH BATH, - 76, Jermyn-street.—From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 4s.; twelve tickets, £2. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., 2s. 6d.; twelve tickets, £1 5s. Private bath (to be specially engaged) two hours’ notice being required, 7s. 6d. No tickets issued after 8 p.m. Bath closes at 9 p.m.

KENSINGTON BATHS, 48 ½ , High street—Swimming, 1s., 12 tickets, 9s., month, 15s., 2 months, £1, 3 months, £1 5s., season, £1 10s. Warm, 1s. 6d.,12 tickets, 15s.; Salt, 2s., 12 tickets, £1; Cold Shower1 1s., 12 tickets, 10s. Swimming taught on reasonable terms.

KING’S-CROSS TURKISH BATHS, 9, Caledonian-road, King’s-cross. —Gentlemen only, from 7 a.m till 9 p.m. Sunday mornings from 7a.m. till 1. Turkish bath, 2s. 6d., 10 tickets, transferable, £1.

LACEY’S BATHS & SKATING RINK, Exmouth-st, Commercial-road, E.—Open all the year round from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m.; Sunday -mornings till 1. Hot or Cold, 6d.; Shower, hot or cold, 6d.

LAMBETH BATHS, 156, Westminster-bridge-road. —The swimming baths are open during the summer only. Swimming, 1st class, 6d., 2nd, 3d.; Hot or Cold, 1st class, 6d., and, 3d.; superior ditto, with fire, &c., 1s

NELL GWYNNE ANCIENT CHALYBEATE COLD SPRING BATH, 25a, Coldbath.sq near Exmouth-st— The bath is of white marble, the spring is constantly running, and contains sulphur, iron, and magnesia. Useful in nervous disorders, colds, loss of appetite, indigestion, weakness of constitution. Average temperature 48º in winter, to 58º in summer. Depth 4 ft. to 4ft.5in. Hot, ladies or gentlemen, 6d. and 1s.; Cold Plunge, 6d., cheaper by the month, quarter, half-year, and year; Shower, hot or cold, 1s.

NEVILL’S BATHS (The Aldgate), Gentlemen’s entrance 44, High-street, E.; Ladies’,  Commercial-road, E.—Two distinct baths in the same building, one for ladies and one for gentlemen. Open from  9a.m. till 10 p.m. Turkish, 2s. 6d; - after 6 in the evening, 1s. 6d.

NICOLE’S BATHS, 1, Bridge-rd, Adelaide - road, N. W.—Exactly opposite the entrance to Chalk Farm railway-station. On Tuesdays and Fridays for ladies before 6 o’clock. Shower, hot or cold, 1s.; Needle, hot or cold, 1s.; Rose, hot or cold, 1s.; Turkish - before 6 o’clock, 2s. 6d., between 6 and 9, 1s. 6d.; Douche, very  strong, tepid or cold, 1s.

PADDINGTON PUBLIC BATHS AND WASHHOUSES, Queen’s-road Bayswater, close to the Queen’s-road and Royal Oak Stations. —Swimming, 1st class, 8d., or 10 for 5s.; 2nd, 4d., 3rd., 2d.; Hot, 1st class, 6d.; 2nd, 2d.; Cold, 1st class, 3d.; 2nd, 1d.; Shower, hot, 1st class, 6d.; 2nd, 2d.; cold, 1st class, 3d.; 2nd, 1d. There is, besides, a 1st class swimming-bath for ladies, 8d. or 10 for 5s.; and private baths the same as for men. There is also a private laundry, where persons may have the use of tubs, hot and cold water, steam-wringers, drying chambers, irons, and mangles, at a charge of 1 ½ d. per hour.

PUBLIC BATHS AND WASHHOUSES, St. Giles-in-the.Fields and St. George’s, Bloomsbury, Endell street, Bloomsbury. —         Swimming, 1st class, 4d., 2nd, 2d.; Warm, 1st class, 6d., 2nd, 2d.; Cold, 1st class, 3d., 2nd, 1d; Shower, warm, 1st class,  6d., and, 4d.; Shower, cold, 1st class, 3d., and, 2d. (1st class with two towels, brushes &c ; 2nd class with one towel). Washing places, with wringing machine, drying closets, mangles and iron, for one hour, 1 ½ d. During the months of March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October, the baths are open from 6 a.m. till 9pm  on Fridays and Saturdays till 10.30 p.m. On Sundays, men’s baths only are open from 6 till 8.30 a.m. During the other four months the baths are open from 8 a.m. till 9 p.m., except Saturdays, when the baths are open till 10 p.m. On Sundays men’s baths only are open from 7 till  8:30 a.m. The washhouses are open from 8a.m. till 8p.m.

ROYAL GALVANIC AND MEDICAL BATHS, 55 Marylebone-rd.— Plunge, 2s. ; Shower, hot or cold, 2s/;  Vapour from 2s 6d The following baths are also supplied: Ga1vanic, Magnetic, Sulphur, Sea Sa1t, Bran, &c.

ROYAL YORK BATHS, 54 York-terrace, York-gate, Regent’s-park. —Hot or Cold, 1st class, 1s.; 2nd, 6d; Shower, hot, 1s.; cold, 6d.; Vapour, 2s. 6d., with electricity 5s.; Turkish, until 5 p.m., 2s. 6d., after, 1s. 6d., with electricity, double; Douche, 1s. 6d.

Sr. GEORGE’s BATHS AND WASHHOUSES, 8, Davies-street, Berkeley-sq. — Swimming, tepid, 1st class 4., 2nd, 2d.; Hot, 1st class, 6d., 2nd, 2d. ; Cold, 1st dass, 3d., 2nd, 1d.; Shower, hot, 1st class, 6d., 2nd, 2d. ; cold, 1st class, 3d., and, 1d. There is only one swimming bath: open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for 1st class, and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for 2nd class. This establishment is closed on Sundays.

ST. MARGARET AND ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST’S BATHS, 34, Great Smith-street, Westminster. —Swimming, tepid, 1st class, 4d.; 2nd, 2d.; Hot, 1st class, 6d, 2nd, 2d. ; Cold, 1st class, 3d., 2nd, 2d. Shower, cold, 4d. Also sixty tubs for the accommodation of the working classes, and the use of irons and mangles. Charge, 1 ½ d and 2d. per hour.

ST. MARTIN’S-IN. THE- FIELDS BATHS AND LAUNDRIES, Orange-street, Leicester-sq.—Established 1849. Hot, 6d. and 2d.; Cold, 3d. and 1d.; Shower, hot, 6d., cold, 3d.

ST. MARYLEBONE PUBLIC BATHS AND WASHHOUSES, Marylebone-rd N.W.—Swimming(four baths), 2d., 4d., 6d.,and 8d.; Hot, 1st class, 6d., 2nd, 2d.; Cold, 1st class, 3d., 2nd, 1d.; Shower, hot, 1st class, 6d., 2nd, 3d.; cold, 1st class, 3d., 2nd, 1d.; Vapour, 6d. The baths are open as follows: Men’s baths, May, June, July, and August, from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m.; Sundays, from 6 till 9 a.m. September, October, March, and April, from 7 a.m. till 9 p.m.; Sundays, from 7 till 9a.m. November, December, January, mid February, from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m.; Sundays, from 7.30 till 9 a.m. Saturday nights till 10 o’clock throughout the year. Women’s baths, open at 7 a.m. from April 1st to September 30th, and at 8 the remaining months; closing at 9 p.m. from March 1st to October 31st, and at 8 the rest of the year. Saturday nights till 10 o’clock throughout the year. The women’s baths are not open on Sundays. The tepid swimming baths are open from April 1st to October 31st. The washhouses are open throughout the year from 8a.m. till  8p.m. Each person is furnished with separate washing and drying rooms, the use of tables, irons, and ironing blankets, at the charge of 1½d. per hour. The entrance to the washhouses and 2nd class women’s baths is in Seymour-place.

ST. PANCRAS PUBLIC BATHS AND WASHHOUSES, 70, King-st, Camden Town, and Whitfield-st, Tottenham-court-road.—The baths are open as follows: For ladies, at 7 a.m., from April 1st to September 30th, and at 8 am. during the remaining months; closing at 9 p.m. from March 1st to October 31st, and at 8.30 p.m. the remainder of the year. For gentlemen, from May to August, on week days from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m., and on Sundays, from 6 till 9 a.m. During September, October, March, and April, on week days, from 7 a.m. till 9 p.m., and on Sundays, from 7, till 9 a.m. From November to February, on week days, from 8 a.m. till 8.30 p.m. and on Sundays, from 8 till 9 a.m. The baths are open on Saturday evenings for both ladies and gentlemen till 10 o’clock throughout the year. On Sundays ladies are not admitted. Swimming, tepid, 1st class, 6d, 2nd, 2d.; Hot, 1st class, 6d., 2nd, 2d.; Cold, 1st class, 3d., 2nd, 1d.; Shower, hot 6d, cold, 3d.; Vapour, 1s.;  Needle, 1s.; douche, 1s.

SMITH’S BATHS, 275, City-road. —Hot, 6d.; Cold, 3d.; Shower, hot or cold, 6d.; Turkish, 1s.; Douche, 6d.

TERMINUS BATHS, 19 and 20, Railway-approach,London-bridge. —Hot, 1s.

TURKISH BATH, Church-street, Essex-road.—One uniform price of 1s. 6d. from 9 a.m. 9 p.m, which includes Hot and Cold Shower, Douche, and Plunge.  

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

By this time, all faithful readers of the " Tales from Twickenham" know, that the Rain Water Bath, as a bath, had been a failure. So Spoffins was reduced to one of the ordinary methods in order to obtain that characteristic which is next to godliness, and decided to patronise the public baths. Going into a public bath is not like going into the pit of a theatre. You are not pressed by a surging mob, and women do not shriek as rough men shoulder them out of the way. There is nothing of this sort of thing when you go to a public bath.
The desire for cleanliness does not provoke such enthusiasm as the love of amusement. After the door is entered you approach a turnstile alone. On your left is a glass window. There is a death-like stillness, together with a smell of newly-scrubbed wood and rapidly-dried and partially dried towels. There is also a faint, a very faint, odour of scent from the little pile of farthing cakes of soap that are sold for a penny.
    Spoffins noticed all this through the glass window as he waited patiently at the turnstile, and having seen what appeared to be a living object seated in an armchair in the room beyond, he tapped. The object, which was a man, got up, yawned, stretched himself, and came leisurely towards the window, working his face into a scowl to greet the unfeeling person who had disturbed him.
    " Can you let me have two new laid eggs with the shells on?" inquired Spoffins.
    "We don't sell eggs," said the man, putting down the window, which Spoffins immediately raised, and said:
    "Then I'll take a quart of buttermilk."
    "This is not a dairy," shouted the man ; "these are the Public Baths."
    "Then," said Spoffiss, " I'll have a Public Bath, warm."
    "You mean a private bath."
    "Yes, a public private bath, or a private public; anything that gets the dirt off."
    "Right. Sixpence. Soap?"
    " Only sixpence for that piece of soap ?"
    "Sixpence the bath, a penny the soap."
    "Oh, I see," said Spoffins ; "and the towels a shilling each."
    "No ; there is no charge for the towels."
    "Marvellous!" said Spoffins.
    "May I use them?"
    " Certainly."
    "Most of your customers gone to the races," muttered Spoffins. " Sorry to have disturbed you in your sleep ; no time like the middle of the day for sleeping if you've got plenty to do."
    "Ticket," growled the man. "Oh, thanks; which is the way?"
    "On the right—when you've paid sevenpence."
    "There you are, my friend," said Samuel, giving him the money. "I'll try and go out the back way, so as not to disturb you again."
    The man slammed down the window, rang a bell, and retired to his armchair, and was soon asleep. Spoffins ascended the stone staircase. In a distant part of the building he heard the wild shrieks of boys in the twopenny plunge bath. There was more reserve and dignity in a "six- penny private" than a "twopenny plunge," thought Spoffins ; but doing the grand in a sixpenny private, though you have two towels and a piece of—yes—scented soap, didn't seem to be so happy as the "twopenny plunge."
    Arrived at the top of the steps a man in shirt sleeves removed a short pipe from his mouth—the strongest pipe Spoffins ever met with—and hid it in his hand. Seizing Samuel's ticket he rushed down a steamy passage with iron doors on each side and brass knobs in between. He seemed to ascertain if the bath was occupied by turning on the hot water knob!
    " One minntt, sir" (turns on hot water).
    Voice from inside : " What in the name of thunder—"
    "All right, sir ; beg pardon" (turns of hot water).  "You can't have that one, sir," muttered the man, to Spoffins.
    "I didn't want it," replied Samuel. " I prefer to have my private bath to myself."
    The hot water of the next bath was turned on, and as there was no response the man said, " This will be yours, sir," and opened the door.
    The room bore traces of recent occupation. Here and there on the stone floor the wet footprints of the previous tenant were still visible, and the towels which had been used still remained strewn about.
    "Do you like it hot?" asked the man, stirring up the water with his not over clean arms and hands.
    "Yes ; but I don't care about it with a head—the soapsuds of the previous gentleman are waltzing on the top of the water, my friend."
    The man admitted it was so, emptied and refilled the bath, and with two or three whirls of his arms and the used towels made the place look quite respectable.
    When the attendant had gone, Spoffins sat on the edge of the bath and soliloquised, instead of undressing. "I wonder how many have been in that bath before me, and how many have used the brush with the long handle. The last chap 's left his soap. If I'd have known that I needn't have wasted a penny on a new cake. I don't think I'll use the comb and brush, anyway. I'm not certain whether I'll have a bath. That man's pipe was strong. Dear me, I can hear some one splashing in the next bath. If I can hear them they can hear me. Being heard is nearly as bad as being seen. Some of 'em might have the curiosity to look over—or the man might turn on the boiling water to see if I'm still here. 'Taint good enough. Blessed if I have a bath at all."
    His soliloquy finished, Spoffins opened the door and fled. He took the piece of soap home to Maria to show her that he had really bathed, but as he forgot to take the other fellow's, and his own soap hadn't been used, she declined to believe him.

Pick Me Up, 1890