Skegness Turkish, Hot,
Cold & Swimming Baths
The Turkish, Hot, Cold, and Swimming
Baths, designed by Lincoln architect, Mr. James Whitton, were built
by George Dunkley, a local contractor, at a cost of about £3,000, and
opened in 1883. They were situated on the left hand side of Scarbrough Avenue,
when approaching from the direction of the pier.
Male and female
bathers each had
their own swimming pool together with separate hot and cold
baths, but there was only one set of Turkish baths which was used by men
and women at different times of the week. The two sets of baths—women’s
on the left and men’s on the right—were separated from each other on the
ground floor by the manager's offices and on the upper floor by his
apartment. Each set of baths had its own entrance leading to a small
lobby where bathers bought their tickets and were given bathing costumes
Bathers left the
appropriate entrance lobby either down a short flight of stairs to their
swimming pool, or through a door leading to the slipper baths and,
further on, the Turkish baths.
The two swimming baths
benefitted from the site’s being at a naturally low level. This allowed
the pools to be supplied with water direct from the sea, partly by
gravity and partly by pumping, a powerful steam pump being provided for
the purpose. Provision was also made for warming the water when
The men’s pool was 63 feet
long by 30 feet wide, and its depth ranged from three foot six inches at
one end to six foot six at the other. Around the pool were twenty
changing cubicles. The women’s pool on the opposite side of the building
was, as so often the case, smaller than the men’s being only 40 feet
long. It was shallower too, ranging from three to five foot deep. It
seems clear that fewer women were expected to use the baths, and only
twelve changing cubicles were provided for their use.
The roofs of the swimming
baths were open-timbered, stained, and varnished. Skylights allowed the
passage of light from avenue-facing windows which, in common with all
the other windows, were glazed with obscured sea-green tinted glass.
Bathers not wishing to use
the swimming pool left the entrance lobby through a door opening onto a
corridor. Opening off one side of this were four private rooms, each
with a slipper bath and fireplace.
The full size, flat
bottomed slipper baths were supplied with hot and cold sea water and
made of white glazed porcelain—the only ename
l that would withstand salt
water. Unusually, for the period, all the pipes were out of sight
because, being at street level, there was ample space under the baths
for examining and repairing them without disturbing the floor or walls.
At the end of each
bathrooms corridor, and down a short flight of wide stairs, was the
single Turkish baths suite, intended for use by men and women on
At the bottom of the
stairs was an entrance lobby which could, if necessary, be used as a
waiting area. The exact layout of the baths is not known, but leading
off the lobby was a corridor with dressing rooms on one side, and the
entrance to the hot rooms on the other. Somewhere off the corridor could
also be found the entrances to the sea water plunge pool, to the
shampooing room with its hot and cold fresh water spray, and to the
There were the usual three
hot rooms, each at a different temperature, with the hottest being
furthest away from the entrance, and the interconnecting doorways
between them covered by heavy curtains.
The large cooling-room,
26x24 foot in area and16 foot high, was furnished with couches where
bathers could lie for an hour or so wrapped in sheets or blankets until
thoroughly cool. Cigars, coffee, and newspapers were also provided.
It is known for certain
that the Turkish baths, together with the water used for shampooing,
were heated by a stove supplied by Thomas Whitaker, the
co‑inventor with Joseph Constantine of the Convoluted
Stove. But the contemporary description of the manner in which the air
was circulated around the hot rooms raises a number of questions.
It was stated that the
heated air was first drawn into the hottest room, and then continued
onwards through the other rooms, cooling as it went. This much was
standard practice. But it is then suggested that at the end furthest
from the stove there were gratings near the floor into which the warm
air was drawn and returned to the stove by means of a flue. It is further
suggested that since the heated air was in constant circulation, no
further ventilation was required.
It seems unlikely that
this was actually the system in use. Air which had already passed
through three rooms of sweating bathers would already be vitiated and
unsuitable for re-use without an air purification system that would not
have been available at that time. If such air was continually reheated
and recirculated the atmosphere within the hot rooms would soon be
totally unacceptable to any bather.
Besides, Constantine and Whitaker,
together with William
Crumblehulme who supplied similar stoves, were all by this time leading
experts in heating Turkish baths and any of them would have warned the
company about the dangers of such a system. One possible explanation
might be that
the reporter covering the opening of the baths misunderstood how the
system worked. For if the baths were ventilated in such a manner it
seems extremely doubtful whether they would have survived as
long as they did.
In 1890 the company
which owned the baths was wound up due its inability to meet its liabilities and the baths
were bought by the liquidator, Edward Arthur Jackson, who—with partners
or, later, alone—operated them for the next few years until, some time
around 1904, they were purchased by Henry Rowley, an engineer at the
local council's pumping station.
Sometime between 1896 and
1930, possibly soon after Henry Rowley died of double pneumonia in 1924, the baths were purchased by R L Kemp’s Skegness Entertainments
Ltd, a company which also owned the Winter Gardens and the King’s
This gave them, according to one writer on Skegness, 'almost a monopoly
of indoor entertainments before the war.' But the theatre had originally
been part of the baths; when mixed bathing was approved at the
beginning of the century, the women’s bath was boarded over to form the
Kings Hall theatre and cinema.
baths were closed after a bombing raid during the Second World War. It
is assumed that the Turkish baths remained open till then. The building
was demolished in the 1950s.
Dawn Bradley, Skegness Library
Angela Gooch, for permission to
use her transcript of an article published in the Skegness Herald
during May 1883, part of the image from one of her postcards,
and the four 2009 images of parts of the pipework which fed sea
water to the pools.
The original page
and thumbnail pictures which can be enlarged.
Individual enlargements can also be found at:
Exterior view of the baths, 1883
Pipework which carried sea water
to the pools
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