But all in all, what remains of the original Turkish baths is quite
The walls of
all the rooms and the staircase are faced with white glazed bricks, with a green
glazed brick double dado at about hand height. The floor, seating shelves, and
walls of the plunge pool are also faced with white glazed bricks, and the room
floors are of terrazzo.
Like the shampooing slabs,
the seats in
the hot rooms were originally of marble but these were also removed at some stage by a previous occupant. In the restored baths, the
original benches have been given new tops to support cushions. Tables and
additional seats have been fitted so as to optimise the use of the available
space and adapt it to fulfil its new function. The rectangular
hot room has a bar and a booth for a DJ.
most radical alteration has been the installation of tables and chairs on the
floor of the plunge pool. Some might object to this, but it seems to me that this
is far better than boarding them over and hiding them again.
And if the idea of having a drink
in the middle of a plunge pool seems strange, it is hardly new; in 1892, a civic
dinner to mark the opening of new public baths in Southampton was held with the
guests seated at tables on the floor of the women's swimming pool
enthusiasts will surely appreciate that new fixtures (like, for example, the
handrails) have not been made to look as if they are of the same period as the
original baths, but stand out immediately as modern functional necessities.
On the other
hand, when items
have necessarily been removed from an area, it is not immediately obvious that a
now cosy alcove was originally a shower.
For more than
six decades, no one has thought to restore the old baths as part of
their business plan—or if they did, they must have been dissuaded by the cost.
We must be grateful that so much of this unique Turkish bath can be seen once
again and wish Steve a well-deserved success in his venture.