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
Sheffield, and Glasgow. Very occasionally, as in the case of
Leamington Spa, a
disused Turkish bath is sympathetically restored and successfully used for a new
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
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.
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
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
The Bar Sia
closed in 2012 though the premises themselves were still in use
3: The lower