Victorian Turkish Baths Picture of the Month for February 2015

Leicester: The Turkish baths at 40 Friar Lane:
the refurbished dome, originally over the pool

Exterior
< The Friar Lane façade

The building in which John Breedon Everard opened his Turkish bath in 1872 still stands and in 1960 was converted to house the Leicester Law Society Library. When opening the new library (on 20 September) Stanley Partridge, a former president of the Society, said:

It is most happy that a building once dedicated to the purification of the human body by steam should now be dedicated to the clarification of the human brain by argument.1

It was a delightfully appropriate remark, its intent unspoiled by the speaker not realising that a Victorian Turkish bath was totally without any visible vapour or steam. The building, Grade II Listed, is currently occupied by Thomas Grant & Company, stockbrokers.

The building, was designed by Everard himself, a qualified engineer and architect. The rear of the building housed the Turkish bath which he opened in 1872, though it was probably managed from the start by John Drake.

 Underside of dome
< Courtesy of Thomas Grant & Company Ltd

The sober exterior of the building gives no hint of the magnificence of the interior, in which the dome surmounting the octagonal cooling room with plunge pool, is probably the most impressive.

The baths, the second establishment to open in Leicester, were owned by several proprietors in turn until they closed some time around 1903. However, by 1908 they re-opened with new proprietors, Hardington & Elliott, who kept them open till just after the end of World War I.

An article about the baths, and a description of the building, will appear in the Directory section of the website later in the year.

Thank you icon

 

 

Thomas Grant & Company for permission to use their image of the dome

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NOTES
 1. Ayriss, Chris Hung out to dry: swimming and British culture (Lulu.com, 2012) p.119 [return]