Although there have been a few cases of cinemas opening in buildings which
were originally built as Turkish baths,
Wimbledon Theatre seems to have been
the only theatre which had its own Turkish bath in the basement.
The theatre was
designed by Cecil Masey and Roy Young, with Frank J Jones. It was owned by J B
Mulholland, under whose management it opened on 26 December 1910 with a
pantomime, Jack and Jill. In addition to
the theatre and Turkish baths, the building also included shops, an
assembly hall, and two
floors of offices.
appears to have been written about the Turkish baths when the theatre was
opened. However, as the only entrance was through one of several doorways
leading off a lobby within the theatre building, it is safe to
assume that it was intended mainly for the benefit of the actors and theatre
staff, perhaps to relax the former and
de-stress the latter. Furthermore, the absence of a women's toilet
indicates that it was intended for use only by the male actors and theatre
lobby had an entrance from the street—the door to the left of the Turkish bath
entrance led upstairs to the assembly hall, and that to the right was a fire exit
from the theatre Stalls—it is not clear whether
the baths were ever open to
members of the public. No mention is to be found in the local
directories of the period; no mention has been found in newspaper
advertisements for the theatre; neither did there seem to be any advertisements
for the Turkish bath itself.
paper, describing the building prior to its opening, did note the existence of the
Turkish bath but made no mention of who it was for. What did interest them was
the use of the Turkish bath to augment the heating of the theatre.
There are Turkish baths on part of the site occupied by the
theatre and a series of ducts from the hot rooms have been arranged connecting with gratings in the floors and walls of the theatre,
so that in the event of the climate playing one of their sudden pranks with which it afflicts us, the temperature can be raised
from 40 to 60 degrees in 15 minutes.
theatregoers must have hoped that the Turkish bath was empty of sweating bathers while the theatre
temperature was being raised in this novel manner.
closed in 1938, and the Turkish bath remained closed when the theatre re-opened
after the war. It is, happily, still open and
continues to provide a full programme of shows and live entertainment.
2: The upper