The Belfast Hammam before its demolition in 1946

Exterior of the Belfast Hammam
< Courtesy National Museums Northern Ireland
(NMNI) and the Belfast Telegraph from whose
online picture library quality prints can be obtained

It is not known how closely the baths, seen here as rebuilt by John North in 1892, indicate the size of the baths opened by Barter thirty-two years earlier. But since they filled the area between Donegall Street and the parallel Little Donegall Street, they were by no means small.

In 1860, just four years after Barter built the first Victorian Turkish bath at St Ann's, and with Urquhart's Turkish Bath Movement at its most persuasive, it must have been difficult to imagine that less people would become regular bathers that the campaigners had assumed.

After their manager Thomas Coakley's comment in 1872 that 'so very few avail themselves' of the baths that 'they are not worth keeping open, inasmuch as they are not paying expenses', it is only surprising that they had a lifespan of well over 70 years. 1

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The Belfast Telegraph

Michelle Ashmore, Picture Library Executive, National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI)

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The Working Class Turkish Baths, Donegall Street, Belfast

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

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The right of Malcolm Shifrin to be identified as the author of this work
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  Malcolm Shifrin, 1991-2019
 1. Sanitas sanitatum et omnia sanitas. Vol.1 / Richard Metcalfe. London : Co-operative Printing Co, 1877. p.319. [return]