In 1865 the population of Crewe was somewhere
between twelve and thirteen thousand people, most of whom were railway
workers or dependent in some way on the London & North Western Railway
Company. Almost all the facilities of the town were provided by the company,
from houses to cooking facilities for the unmarried, from churches and
chapels to schools and public baths.
The first bathing facilities, comprising
slipper baths for men and women, were opened for public use in 1845. They
were managed by a subcommittee of the Council of the Mechanics Institute. By
1862, the company had expanded so rapidly that the baths were now right in
the middle of the railway works, and access was difficult for workers' wives
and for the general public.
So new public baths were built by the
company at the northern end of Mill Lane (later Mill Street) and
opened in 1866. These consisted of hot, tepid, and cold baths,
showers, and an open-air swimming pool. The pool was pretty basic,
as was common at that time. Water was changed once per week, and
'the price of admission was reduced as the water became
It is not
known exactly when the Turkish baths were added, but it must have been
some time before 1874 when they were included in a contemporary local
directory. Although the swimming pool was open from six till nine
on Sunday mornings, and till nine o'clock in the evening during
the rest of the week, the Turkish baths were open less often. They were
completely closed on Sundays, and for the rest of the week there were two
separate sessions each day: from ten to twelve in the morning, and from two
till seven in the evening.
We don't know much about the inside of the
Crewe Turkish baths, but the entrance tickets were clearly produced using
the same type of machine which printed the company's standard travel
tickets. The Great Western Railway, in the Turkish baths they built for
their workers in Swindon, went further: many fittings, such as door handles
and mirrors, were the same as those found in their sleeper carriages.
In 1923, the L & N W R became
part of the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway Company. The new
to operate the baths for the city for another thirteen years. However, this type
of open-air swimming pool was already quite inadequate for a town of
the size and importance of Crewe. Elsewhere, bathing facilities were
provided by the local authority, and the company understandably saw
no reason to expend the large amount of money required to build a
In the mid-1930s, Crewe Corporation finally agreed to
provide a new bathing establishment. The L M S offered to sell the
existing baths to the town for £500 but the Corporation, feeling the
site was too small, turned down the offer and the new baths were
The Mill Street baths closed on 31 March 1936 after
serving the town for seventy years. The new establishment was built
without Turkish baths.
account should be treated as work in progress. Further research is needed
to fill in details, such as the type of facilities available.