Turkish baths in Provincial England

Scarborough: Bland's Cliff (South Sands)

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

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Bland's Cliff Public Baths

These baths were originally opened in 1859 by the Scarborough Public Bath Company Limited, which was incorporated a year earlier in 1858 under the chairmanship of a local physician, Dr Richard Cross.

The baths were open every day except Sunday, from six in the morning till ten at night. Patrons paying 6d. had access to a swimming bath containing 100,000 gallons of sea-water, warmed to a temperature of 65°F. There were also various types of personal baths and showers (which could be taken either in fresh water or in sea-water), and vapour baths at 1s. each, with a completely separate suite of baths for women.

In 1863, Turkish baths were added when the building was enlarged to make space for 'a complete and separate Suite of Rooms for Ladies and Gentlemen, price 2s 6d each Bath.'

Compared with the price of a swim, this was quite expensive and, within a year, provision was made for tickets at one shilling to be available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after six o'clock in the evening.

The building, designed by the well known surveyor and engineer, Josiah Forster Fairbank,

brought more than a touch of the mystic East to Scarborough's sea front, with its Moorish arches, red-and-white brickwork, and mosque-like water tower crowned with a dome. Entrance was direct from the sands—the Scarborough Foreshore Road was not constructed until 1879.

By then, there was much more activity on the beach, with donkey rides, and one of the Scarborough Adult School Coffee Vans. But although the new road separated the baths from the beach, they would still have been seen clearly from quite a distance.

The baths company managed to survive until February 1904, when the premises were sold for £4,250. The then Chairman was reported as saying that 'the old baths had got about worn out' and that he was 'very pleased they had finally done with it'.

In fact the baths continued to be used, under different ownership, until around 1931, although it is not yet known whether the Turkish baths remained open until the others closed.

By the mid 1990s, what remained of Bland's Cliff Public Baths had been converted into an amusement arcade.

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Circa 1875

After 1879


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Other Turkish baths in the provinces


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

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