Oakworth House, Nr. Haworth

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Private Turkish Bath


1875 Oakworth House Oakworth House
    Isaac Holden
    House built
1877 Turkish bath
    Isaac Holden
    Turkish bath added
1897 Oakworth House
    House left empty; then derelict
1909 Oakworth House
    House destroyed by fire

(Sir) Isaac Holden at 86

Oakworth House was built in 1875 by Isaac  Holden on the site of an earlier house.1 Holden, was responsible for the invention of advanced woolcombing machinery at his works at Alston, near Bradford. He was a Liberal MP  for thirty years from 1865, was made a baronet in 1893, and died in 1897.

In July 1877, Holden wrote to Joseph Constantine asking him to call in order to advise on how to improve the heating of the house, and about the possible installation of a Turkish bath.2 Holden was unaware, when writing the letter, that as a young lad Constantine had been a hand comber at Holden's mill and had lost his job there after the invention of the new machinery. But, as he later told Mrs Holden, it was the best thing that could have happened to him.3

Constantine became a bathman in Keighley and in 1850 opened his own establishment in Manchester, adding a Turkish bath there in 1857.4 In 1866, in conjunction with Thomas Whitaker, he took out a patent on the Convoluted Stove which he later used to heat Holden's Turkish bath and which, in the intervening period, had become the most popular furnace for heating such baths.

The house had its own winter garden, adjoining which was a billiard room. Unusually, the Turkish bath opened directly out of this room. It comprised a hot room, 11x13 ft; a shampooing room, 11x12ft, with shower, spray and douche, and a cooling-room, 10x11ft.5 The whole layout and style of this Turkish bath seems to be rather similar to that which Constantine designed and fitted out  ten years later for Theodore Mander. But while Holden's bath led directly off the billiard room, Mander's was only adjacent to it. It could be that in both cases, the Convoluted Stove additionally kept the billiard room warm.

Holden was an extremely health-conscious person and a great believer in exercise. According to Constantine,   even at the age of 83 he walked regularly for one-and-a-half hours daily and on his return,

He went into his private Turkish bath, which is always kept warm, took a warm and cold shower and changed his underclothing...He takes one Turkish bath a week, and if the least out of sorts two or three.6

A more detailed account of this bath, and of Constantine's rejected original designs, appears in my Victorian Turkish Baths, pp.246-7.


Steve Sharp, whose family have been builders in the area for over 150 years, and who 'contributed to the building of Oakworth House, the neighbouring chapel, and the Sunday School'.


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