Bolton Turkish Baths Company Limited [1865]

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

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Bolton Turkish Baths Company Limited [1865]
Company baths: BOLTON: Higher Bridge Street

Please note: As handwriting is often unclear, names of shareholders are indicative only.
When accuracy is important, researchers should consult the original documents.
PRO references will be found at The National Archives (Public Record Office, Kew)

The company was set up in 1865 to purchase the Turkish baths which Thomas Whitaker had opened in 1860. Whitaker had been working with Joseph Constantine (who owned the Turkish bath at 90 St James' Street, Manchester) on the development of a stove to heat Turkish baths more efficiently. In 1866 they jointly took out a patent for their Convoluted Stove, which was to become for many years the industry standard for heating Turkish baths. By 1870 Whitaker & Constantine, Warming and Ventilation Engineers, already owned a factory in Folds Road, Bolton, to manufacture the stove. So it seems likely that Whitaker put his baths up for sale, even though he initially continued to manage the baths, in order to help finance the stove project.

The prospectus which appeared in a local paper indicated that 500 shares in the new company would be available,

of which only 10s. per share will be required during the first 12 months for the purchase of and carrying on the Baths. Deposit 5s. per Share on Application, and 5s. on Allotment.

In common with many companies whose directors were partially motivated by a concern that there were so few inexpensive bathing facilities available for use by the overwhelming majority of the population which had no easy access to running water, the prospectus indicated that,

…The undertaking has not been entered upon so much with a view to profit as to secure for Bolton this description of Baths of a first-class character, although there is little doubt that in a pecuniary point of view it will be successful.

In this, only the first half of the statement proved to be correct, though not quite in the sense in which it was intended.

The premises occupy a good situation and the internal appliances and conveniences may be greatly improved at small cost. The present proprietor, Mr Whitaker, will continue to manage the baths, and will retain an interest in the concern; and Mrs Whitaker will still have the superintendence of the Ladies' Department. The idea of forming a company with limited liability has been suggested by several gentlemen as the most likely course to establish the Baths on a permanent and satisfactory footing, all of whom will have shares in the concern.

The financial situation was discussed at the well-attended first meeting of shareholders held on 20 August 1866. During the first year of the company's ownership of the baths, there had been 500 first class and 2,488 second class bathers, making a total of around 3,000. The income arising was 'not quite enough to make the baths self-supporting' and it was estimated that the number of bathers needed to be increased by about a quarter. It was hoped that the recent introduction of reduced prices for books of 14 tickets might increase usage of the baths. There was also a need to increase the company's capital by £100 and it was suggested that the main users of the baths might be prepared to buy shares.

No company returns were filed after 1866 though the company was not dissolved until 1883. In 1870, the baths were owned by John Shoesmith, but he may well have bought them from the company as early as the end of 1866. Further research is needed before we can know for certain.

TNA: PRO: BT31 1069/1937c

1865 Memorandum of Association: 4 March
Objects include: 'for the purchase of the Turkish Baths situate in Higher Bridge Street, Bolton le Moors, and for adding thereto other warm and cold Baths and working the same.'
Capital: £500 divided into 500 shares of £1
Bell, John Thompson (2 shares) Salesman
Crossley, David (10 shares) Cotton spinner
Cunliffe, John (5 shares) Stationer
Cunliffe, Thomas (5 shares) Printer
Davison, William Hope (5 shares) Minister
Greenhalgh, John (5 shares) Gentleman
Rothwell, Charles (10 shares) Surgeon
Taylor, John (5 shares) Solicitor

Registered Office: 30 Higher Bridge Street (10 March)
Secretary: John Cunliffe
Chairman: Charles Rothwell
Bankers: Bank of Bolton
Solicitors: Taylor & Son

Company commenced operating the Turkish Baths on 15 May.

1866 Shareholders include:
Whitaker, Thomas (60 shares) Baths Manager
Yates, Robert (20 shares) Waste dealer

1883 No returns were filed between the years 1866-83
Dissolved under Clause 7(4): 23 January

This page last updated 29 October 2018


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

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