Victorian Turkish Baths Picture of the Month for January 2015

Hove Baths:
Marina Esplanade (later, King's Esplanade):
remains of tiling after December 2014 fire

Medina Tiles
< Courtesy @PostcardCorral

These tiles are all that remain, after the second of two fires during 2014, to give us an impression of what the inside of these baths might have looked like when originally opened.

Interior
< Courtesy @PostcardCorral

The baths were designed by architect P B Chambers for the Hove Baths and Laundry Co Ltd which was incorporated in 1893. They were located in what was then called Marina Esplanade, and built in stages. As far as one can tell, the first areas to open, in 1894, were the women's slipper baths and the washhouse.

The esplanade
The Turkish baths are on the right of this photograph taken c. 1910

By 1911, the road had been re-named King's Esplanade, and the baths occupied two adjoining buildings. The smaller one, the shell of which is all that remains of the complex, originally housed the women's changing rooms and slipper baths, together with a long since demolished sea-water swimming pool. The larger L-shaped building, to the west, housed similar facilities for men, communal facilities, the laundry, and a manager's flat.1

The use of slipper baths was declining by the middle of the first decade of the 20th century and some time around 1906, the number of such baths was reduced and the space utilised for a new set of Turkish baths.

In 1911 an ambitious advertisement appeared in Pike's local directory for the 'Hove New Turkish, Medical and Electro Hydropathic Baths Company Limited', though in fact the company name had not actually been changed.

The baths were stated to be recommended by medical practitioners for the cure (no less) of 'Rheumatoid-Arthritis, Osteo-Arthritis, Gout, Lumbago, Sciatica, Neuritis, Paralysis and diseases of the nervous system.' Special provision was also made for women at the Turkish baths: they could avail themselves of a facial massage and hygienic complexion treatment, as well as a 'gynaecological bath...'

The baths company went into liquidation in 1915, and although the liquidator's six-monthly accounts are held at The National Archives, those for the baths are not separated from those for the laundry, and there is no way of determining when the Turkish baths closed. They were called simply Hove Baths and Laundry till 1916; then silence till they were taken over by Hove Council and re-opened in 1919 as The Hove Swimming Baths.

The tiles which are shown at the head of this page are not from the Turkish baths, but it is possible that similar ones would have been used there, given the wide publicity given to them when they opened.

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@PostcardCorral for his images

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

 
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