Turkish baths in Ireland

Belfast: Arthur Street

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

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The Ulster Turkish Baths

Very little is known about the Arthur Street Turkish and Medical Baths which opened just before Christmas 1886. Nor is anything yet known about its first proprietors, William and James Sloane.

But we know a little more about the baths themselves from an early advertisement which indicates that they were available for men and women, that the hot room was maintained at a very high 230°F and that there was a plunge pool. First class baths cost 1/6d and second class baths (in the evenings between 6.00 and 9.00) cost 9d. It was also possible to have a warm bath only for 6d, or with a shower, 9d. Medicated baths cost one shilling.

Some time between 1892 and 1894, the baths were bought by Thomas Coakley. He was a man with over 30 years experience of running Belfast's other Turkish baths, Dr Barter's Working Class Turkish Baths in Donegall Street, which had just been purchased by John North.

It is interesting to note that Coakley thought it worthwhile to risk his own money on a Turkish bath when he had written to Richard Metcalfe in 1872 saying that it was hardly worth keeping the Donegall Street baths open. Either business had greatly improved in the following years, or Coakley believed that what was holding Donegall Street Baths back was targeting it at the working class.

We don't know whether Coakley was successful with the Ulster Turkish Baths, but they remained open for about six years under his aegis closing, it is thought, in 1902. Thomas Coakley died on 11 August 1898 and it is not yet clear what happened to the baths after his death.

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Early advertisement for the baths

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Other Turkish baths in Ireland


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

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