Grimsby Turkish Baths
In 1870, Samuel Rolley was the proprietor of
hydropathic baths at Matlock House in Lower Burgess Street, between
Cressey Street and Lower Spring Street. Matlock House was a name
frequently used by hydropathists who
wished their customers to associate their premises with
the far grander hydropathic establishments to be found at Matlock in
This was not Rolley's first business.
In 1868, he had owned a hydropathic establishment at 135 King Edward
Street North and, shortly afterwards, other baths in New Market
Place—though he does not seem to have stayed there very long. But
the baths in Lower Burgess Street, popularly known as the 'Steam Vapour
Baths', lasted much longer and he continued to run them for around twenty
Rolley sold his baths to a newly incorporated company, the Grimsby Turkish and Russian Baths Company Limited,
set up on 24 April specifically to establish, construct, and
acquire Turkish baths.
The sale was atypical in some respects in that the baths' original
proprietor did not accept in payment, nor later purchase, any shares in
the new company. Nor did he act for the company as its Baths Manager, a
position held by Walter Bell who lived on the premises. But
it may be that Rolley was ill by this time since he died on 25 October the
after examining the enlarged
plan of the building work
undertaken by the new company, it is difficult to know with absolute certainty
whether Rolley ever installed Turkish baths at any time during his period
of ownership. It could be argued that he might have done, since that part of the building marked as being
'old work' includes a boiler and flue immediately next to the position of
the new Turkish bath—and locating a refurbished bath in the same position
would have made financial sense.
On the other hand, while many
hydropathists did include Turkish baths in their establishments, by
the 1870s, they were far more popular than traditional hydropathic baths
and, if they had been included, Rolley might well have been expected to
promote them more intensively by including them in the name
establishment. On balance, therefore, it seems more likely that he did not
new company's architect, John J Cresswell of Grimsby, seems to have added
facilities, such as the steam room, cooling-room, and plunge pool by
infilling the area behind the original house and the old bath and boiler
area (shown in section below).
original house, with its attractive thirty foot wide frontage on Lower Burgess Street, now served as the bath
manager's house with, on the ground floor, a refreshments bar, an
office, and the company's board room.
Immediately behind the main house, a
passage led to the cooling-room (with four changing cubicles) and plunge
pool. There were also cold water and slipper baths, needle showers, and a
shampooing room. The whole of this area was completely new and was decorated in style.
Turkish bath hot rooms, the Russian steam bath, the shampooing room, and
the slipper and sitz bathroom were lined with glazed brick. The cooling-room and plunge pool area were of brick, with wooden partitions and
had its own four inch bore Artesian well on the premises, sunk to a depth
of 120 ft. Water was pumped by a 4hp boiler which
supplied piped steam for the Russian bath, heated air for the hot rooms
and radiators, and additionally drove the washing machine in the laundry
area on the first floor.
for the Turkish bath entered above roof level and was led over a series of hot
cylinders and, after circulating
through the various apartments, was drawn off at floor level and discharged into the engine flue.
Grimsby-based builders responsible for the conversion were Messrs Hewins and
Goodhand, while the engineering
work and heating were carried out to the architect's designs by the Great Grimsby Co-operative Box and Fish Carrying Company,
The baths were open for women on
Wednesdays and admission charges for men were reduced at certain times on
Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Baths Laundry, equipped with all
the latest equipment from the USA and with its own separate entrance, van
sheds and stables, was opened a year later in 1893 and was
considered to be so well-equipped that members of the public were invited
to look round it on Wednesdays.
end of 1892, nearly 40 shareholders held 665 of the 2,000 £1 shares
offered at the company's launch and, by March 1895, all but 75 of the
shares had been issued. Nevertheless, the company was already in financial
difficulties and the following year, being unable to meet its debts, Mr
Walter M Dawson was appointed liquidator.
were sold later that year to the company's Secretary, a Mr Hill who ran
the baths until he died the following year. It is not quite clear whether
his widow, Ellen, owned the baths until their closure, around 1909. She
may have let them to John Nelson Fox, or Fox might have managed them for
her; or she may have sold the baths to Fox and managed them for him.
Further research is needed before this can be ascertained.
Peter Johnson, a descendant of Samuel Rolley
Jennie Mooney & Tracey Townsend, Central Library,
Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire Council
The original page
and thumbnail pictures which can be enlarged.
All the enlarged images, listed and linked below, can also be printed.
Exterior of the
building in 1893
Ground floor plan
and cross section of the Grimsby Turkish baths
The cooling-room and plunge pool
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