The three surveyed
From one point of view, the choice of establishments was excellent, the London Hammam being the London Turkish bath, operated by a limited liability company and designed by David Urquhart, the guru of the Victorian Turkish Bath Movement. Each of the other two was part of a group. Charles Bartholomew, Foreign Affairs Committee disciple of Urquhart, owned a total of seven similar baths in various parts of England on his death in 1889, and Nevill's Turkish Baths, which operated only in London, at that time owned seven establishments of various sizes.
On the other hand, the Hammam was, as the interviewer wrote 'the most aristocratic in London' and the other two were at the middle and upper levels of the market. So it must be assumed that the conditions described in these establishments were probably better, and in some cases much better, than in the majority of smaller, less long-lived establishments.
In 1896, the year of these interviews, there were at least 36 Turkish baths in London, so that three establishments is a small sample, and a modern survey would doubtless wish to include some of the more modest, less expensive establishments to get a more balanced view.
It is a pity also, though no fault of Booth, that local authorities in London were so slow to open Turkish baths. No comparison can be made, therefore, between conditions in privately owned baths and those in publicly funded facilities. But they were quicker in the provinces: we know, for example, the wages of some of the staff at the Barton Street Turkish Baths in Gloucester, and these will be discussed briefly in due course, below.
Turkish Bath, 23 Leicester Square
same interviewer visited the Hammam on 22 April 1896. Although
s/he refers to James Waugh as Manager of the Hammam, his rôle
was different from that of Mr Kenny in Leicester Square. Waugh had
joined the London & Provincial Turkish Bath Company in 1870 as a 39 year old
temporary Company Secretary, and he was to remain its secretary until 1907. The manager's functions would have been undertaken at the Hammam
by a Superintendent, a Foreman Shampooer, and a Housekeeper.
From Urquhart's day onward, the company had a caring attitude to its staff, though this did not always prevent shampooers from breaking the company's rules about tipping. There had been trouble on this score some three years earlier due in the main to the Hammam going through a particularly bad patch with a consequent diminution in the amount of bathers' tips.
The interviewer notes Waugh's frank comment that
The Hammam has not been so prosperous of late years as when first started partly owing to the increase of Baths in London, but still more from the fact that people go out of town so much more than they used to, especially on Saturday and Sunday.
But he omitted to mention that the level of service and cleanliness had fallen during the previous few years after the deaths of several of the original directors.
Nevill's Turkish Baths, 25 Northumberland Avenue
The interviewer reports not only the factual answers to his questions but also reports all his many asides as, for example, his remarks on shampooers' drinking habits:
Shampooers still have a name for drink. All take a large quantity of beer. Thirsty work. But drunkenness is less common than it was. He sacks a drunk man at once. … Customers are less willing now than formerly to be shampooed by a drunkard.
and that he has a cynical view of the claims of Turkish bath proprietors for,
he knows is called
He suggests that there were less than '100 male shampooers in London & 12 wd cover the Female shampooers' and notes the existence of a related professional, the masseuse.
There are a good many masseuses; about 20 I wd say round about Piccadilly. Has never been to one but many of his customers have spoken to him about them from experience. Customers who have gone in expecting medical treatment [?] are put in a bath & then electricity is applied by the masseuse. Most of them he hears are procuresses, They have sleeping rooms upstairs. It is a new form of the business & has not been in vogue for more than two or 3 years. Probably the police could give a good deal of information about them.
Throughout the survey, interviewers also tried to speak with appropriate trade union representatives, but here there was none to be found.
There used to be a Trade Society. He thinks it has been dead for 3 or 4 years. The organ of the Shampooers Society is a small Islington local paper with offices within 100 yds of the Angel. Called the ‘Islington ? Gazette’. He was at daggers drawn with the Soc when it did exist.
Nevill's indication that there had been one is the only such indication so far found, and further research is needed in this area.