Royal Infirmary Baths
there had been a Turkish bath in Albion Street since the late 1850s,
the need for a medical bath establishment at the Royal Infirmary was well
enough argued to encourage Mr George Brook of Springwood Hall to donate a
sum sufficient to enable one to be built and opened in 1897.
establishment included Turkish, Russian, and a number of 'other remedial baths, which were available to
patients under the direction of their medical advisers'. It had its own
entrance, proved to be well used by patients and the general public, being
'much resorted to by many persons, on payment of the rate charged, who would not ordinarily receive treatment at the
although the Infirmary emphasised the medical supervision which was
provided, the Governors poached John Shoesmith from Albion Street to be
their first Baths Superintendent. This was a wise appointment since
Shoesmith had well over 25 years' experience managing Turkish baths in
Huddersfield and, before that, in Bolton.
In 1912, the baths were open 3½ days in the week for men and a full day
and two halves for women. Turkish and Russian baths cost 2/-, medicated
baths 2/6, and slipper, sitz, needle and shower baths 6d each, with a
reasonable discount for those purchasing books of ten or six tickets at a
time. Second-class tickets cost 1/- and 1/6. However, these allowed access
only during the last 2½ hours of each day, with the result that the
cheaper rate was only available to women bathers one day each week,
their half day openings both being in the morning.
World War II had its effect on the baths, as on all other aspects of daily
life. More women were working in factories to support the war effort
and this undoubtedly contributed, with the blackout, to a decrease in the
number of women bathers with the result that by 1940 the baths were only
open to them for 1½ days each week. About this time also, possibly due to
shortage of staff, the medicated baths and the individual slipper, sitz
and shower baths were all discontinued, leaving only the Turkish and
Russian baths in operation.
the Turkish baths in Albion Street, and a newer establishment in Ramsden
Street which was owned by the same company, had both closed down leaving
the Infirmary as the only remaining provider of Turkish baths in
Huddersfield. But after the end of the war, as an increasing proportion
of families had their own bathrooms, the number of bathers availing
themselves of the Infirmary baths diminished, to the extent that it was
decided to close the baths in 1949. As in so many similar cases, there was
an active, but unsuccessful campaign to keep them open.
the Ministry of Health demanded a substantial cut in expenditure
by the Leeds Regional Health Board which, by this time, was responsible
for the Infirmary.
The Huddersfield Hospital Management Committee's response, in April, was
that in such circumstances the £4,000 allocated for carrying out adaptations to the Turkish Baths
could not be considered a high priority and that 'accordingly the Committee could not see its way to reconsider the
decision not to re-open the baths.'
the 'shower of protests and petitions' which greeted the announcement, and
the offer by a local firm to undertake the repair of the drainage problems
for which the £4,000 had been earmarked, the baths remained closed.
Jane Helliwell, Local
History Library, Huddersfield Library & Art Gallery
The original page
and thumbnail pictures which can be enlarged.
All the enlarged images, listed and linked below, can also be printed.
Price-list and opening hours,
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