Turkish baths in London

 

Wimbledon: The Broadway
Wimbledon Theatre

  

                           

This is a single frame, printer-friendly page taken from

one of the linked parts of an article published on Malcolm Shifrin's website

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

        

Original illustrated page with chronology, notes, and links


List of other Turkish baths in London

                           

 

 

Wimbledon Theatre

2: The upper levels conversion

After the Turkish bath was closed, it disappeared from view for over sixty years—part closed off and part, like the plunge pool, boarded over. Those of us who appreciate Turkish baths have become resigned, of late, to their closure and subsequent demolition. Only rarely is there news of a bath being reopened—there are pressure groups working to this end in Manchester,  Sheffield, and Glasgow. Very occasionally, as in the case of Royal Leamington Spa, a disused Turkish bath is sympathetically restored and successfully used for a new purpose.

This is what has now happened in Wimbledon.

In June 2001, Steve Sotiriou took over what was a rather depressing wine bar and, with the help of a conservation grant and an extremely sympathetic architect, restored most of what remained of the original Turkish baths, turning it into Bar Sia, an attractive bar and music venue. 

The whole of the theatre building is Grade II Listed and the architects, Tijen and Brian O'Reilly, have incorporated many features from the original rooms into the new design. Working on this unique conversion must have been an exciting project leading, as it sometimes did, to unexpected discoveries.  'We just drilled a hole in the wooden floor, and saw the plunge pool underneath,' explained Tijen.

That part of the theatre which has been transformed into Bar Sia has a complicated floor plan. 

In effect, it is set out on four floor levels, though the upper two are only half-a-storey apart. Three steps up from the street take you into the lounge. 

This has been created from the space occupied by the two separate shops .

Originally each shop had stairs which led to a toilet in the cellar, though there is no longer any indication of where they were.

Two stylised wall graphics of a woman in a Turkish bath (which have been created by backlighting drilled sheets of aluminium) are so far the only obvious clues as to what the bar might originally have been. Nor is there any clue immediately visible as you mount the six steps leading to the main bar area in what was originally the Turkish bath cooling-room.

But, not easily spotted until you are right in the bar and happen to look backwards to the left, there is a restored staircase leading down to the rest of the original Turkish bath.

The Bar Sia closed in 2012 though the premises themselves were still in use in 2013.

3: The lower levels conversion
             

 
 
           

Tijen Selim O'Reilly
Steve Sotiriou
Mike Lyas

                 

 
 


The original page includes thumbnail pictures which can be enlarged.
All the enlarged images, listed and linked below, can also be printed.

Exterior view of the Bar Sia

Main bar

Plan of the upper two floors

Relaxing in the Bar Sia lounge

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

Comments and queries are most welcome and can be sent to:

malcolm@victorianturkishbath.org

The right of Malcolm Shifrin to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him
in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988