Belfast: Arthur Street

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The Ulster Turkish Baths


1886

Turkish and Medical baths

 

 

William & James Sloane (Proprs)

 

 

Probably opened on 19 December

1890 Ulster Turkish and Medical baths
 

 

William & James Sloane (Proprs)

1894 Ulster Turkish and Medical baths
 

 

Thomas Coakley (Propr)

1898 Ulster Turkish and Medical baths
 

 

Thomas Coakley (Propr)

1902 Ulster Turkish and Medical baths
 

 

James Coakley (Propr) [?]

  Baths had closed by 1903 and had been converted into a billiards hall by 1904


Very little is known about the Arthur Street Turkish and medical baths which opened just before Christmas 1886. Nor is anything yet known about its first proprietors, William and James Sloane.

Early advertisement  

But we know a little more about the baths themselves from an early advertisement which indicates that they were available for men and women, that the hot room was maintained at a very high 230F and that there was a plunge pool. First class baths cost 1/6d and second class baths (in the evenings between 6.00 and 9.00) cost 9d. It was also possible to have a warm bath only for 6d, or with a shower, 9d. Medicated baths cost one shilling.

Some time between 1892 and 1894, the baths were bought by Thomas Coakley.1 He was a man with over 30 years experience of running Belfast's other Turkish baths, Dr Barter's Working Class Turkish Baths in Donegall Street, which had just been purchased by John North.

It is interesting to note that Coakley thought it worthwhile to risk his own money on a Turkish bath when he had written to Richard Metcalfe in 1872 saying that it was hardly worth keeping the Donegall Street baths open.2 Either business had greatly improved in the following years, or Coakley believed that what was holding Donegall Street Baths back was targeting it at the working class.

We don't know whether Coakley was successful with the Ulster Turkish Baths, but they remained open for about six years under his aegis closing, it is thought, in 1902. Thomas Coakley died on 11 August 18983 and it is not yet clear what happened to the baths after his death.

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