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The Lincoln Place Turkish Baths
1859 Turkish Baths
   Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Limited (Proprs)
1860 Turkish Baths
   Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Limited (Proprs)
   Turkish baths opened 2 February
   Stephen Stokes   (Superintendent); Miss Cranwell (Matron)
1865 Turkish Baths
   Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Limited (Proprs)
   Stephen Stokes (Superintendent); Miss Cranwell (Matron)
1866 Turkish Baths
   Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Limited (Proprs)
   Stephen Stokes (Supt); Mrs Stokes [née Miss Cranwell ?] (Matron)
1867 Turkish Baths
   Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Limited (Proprs)
   Stephen Stokes (Superintendent); Mrs Stokes (Matron)
1868 Turkish Baths
   Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Limited (Proprs)
   Richard H Bushe, Esq, JP (Lessee); resides on premises
   Stephen Stokes (Superintendent); Mrs Stokes (Matron)
1880 Turkish Baths
   Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Limited (Proprs)
   Richard H Bushe, Esq, JP (Lessee)
   Stephen Stokes (Superintendent); Mrs Stokes (Matron)
1881 Turkish and Warm Baths
   Millar & Jury (Proprs)
   John Curran (Mgr)
1886 Turkish and Warm Baths
   Millar & Jury (Proprs)
   John Curran (Mgr)
1887 Turkish and Warm Baths
   Millar & Jury (Proprs)
   John Gregory (Mgr)
1888 Turkish and Warm Baths
   Millar & Jury (Proprs)
   John Gregory (Mgr)
1889 Turkish and Warm Baths
   Millar & Jury (Proprs)
   William Tucker (Mgr)
1898 Turkish and Warm Baths
   Millar & Jury (Proprs)
   William Tucker (Mgr)
1900 Turkish and Warm Baths
   Millar & Jury (Proprs)
1901 The baths had closed by now and were used for a variety of other purposes, including a bingo hall, until they were demolished around 1970
  In the above chronology, information has been taken from sources detailed in the following footnotes: 1, 2, 3
See also: Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Limited

Exterior of the bathsToday, television brings the sights and sounds of foreign countries right into our living rooms, people travel easily to the Middle East and beyond, and there is hardly a major city in the British Isles which is without at least one purpose-built mosque. We have become familiar with the appearance of Islamic, or as it was often called, Saracenic architecture in our midst. It is, therefore, difficult to imagine how ordinary people must have reacted on their first sight of this exotic addition to the often distinguished, but very Western, buildings of Dublin.

A visitor from England signing himself 'A moist man' 4 wrote on his return,

The morning was raw and wet and cheerless when I left my hotel, and, after a sloppy walk, found myself before a building of oriental architecture, crowned with fantastic minarets, as rich with Saracenic ornament as plaster of Paris and stucco could make them.

And in 1868, eight years after the baths opened, the author of a guide book to Dublin 5 wrote,

Turning towards the left from Merrion Street, our attention is attracted by the strange looking erection on the west side of Lincoln Place, which, upon inquiry, we shall be told is

THE TURKISH BATHS

This elevation presents a quaint, but pleasing, appearance, with its many narrow pilasters, half-moon apertures, fretwork, orna- mental minarets, etc, though, we believe, not quite orthodox as regards architectural principles.

But writers in trade journals of the day, as here in the Dublin Builder, clearly seemed to approve, and were delighted that Irish builders were seen to be so capable of executing this unusual design. 6

Externally the building is a decided acquisition, and the site seems to have been judiciously selected. Its general character takes both strangers and citizens rather by surprise, and many an enquiring countenance is directed towards its minarets, elaborate fretwork, half-moon apertures, tall variegated brick shaft rising 85 feet in the background, &c, &c, which form a very novel and agreeable contrast to the 'western' style of architecture prevailing here. The front—with the exception of the base course, which is of granite—is entirely cemented in Portland, and its execution—the elaborate ornamentation especially, so novel to our workmen—is most creditable to the contractors for the plastering throughout, Messrs Hogan and Son, of Great Brunswick-street.

As a work of art, the building may be pronounced successful; and as its purpose has a philanthropic tendency, we trust that the speculation may prove equally so. Mr Barter, architect and sculptor, of Cork, designed and superintended it to completion, Mr Dwyer efficiently assisting as clerk of works, and Mr Barry overseeing the masonry and heating departments. Nearly all—if not all—the artificers, except in the plastering and cementing departments, employed are Corkonians, and the work redounds to their credit.

The baths were built for the Turkish Bath Company of Dublin Ltd and opened on 2February 1860. 39

The main frontage of the building faced Lincoln Place. About 186 feet in length, it comprised three sections, that in the centre being slightly recessed and partly fronted with an entrance porch. Adjoining this, opening off the obtuse angled pavement leading to Leinster Street, was a refreshment room and the entrance to the Turkish bath for horses and other animals, which was at the rear of the main baths.

The main entrance led into a central ticket-office from which a spacious staircase led to the company board-room and other apartments on the first floor. Above this area, though only visible from the outside, was a 50ft ogee-shaped dome. The architect seems to have missed an opportunity here because, as the writer in the Dublin Builder pointed out, the dome 'might, to our minds, have been made an internal, as well as an external, feature, as it can scarcely be adapted to any other than a lumber or domestic's sleeping room'.

On either side of the ticket office, separate facilities were provided for male and female bathers, the men's department being on the right and the women's on the left, each being entered through its own porch after the purchase of a ticket.

Although first and second class tickets were the norm, at some stage there may also have been times set aside for third class bathers. When the baths opened, a first class ticket cost 2/6d while a shampoo cost an additional shilling.

First class tickets were expensive in relation to typical wages of the day. Before the baths opened, the Turkish Bath Company advertised for a husband and wife team to become Superintendent and Matron of the baths. 10 The major part of the salary offered comprised 'apartments, fire and light', to which was added £100 per annum. So in addition to their accommodation, each of them was to receive just under 2/9d per day, or just under threepence more than the cost of a single first class Turkish bath. In the event, the company appointed a single man and woman to the positions, so that the matron would have received a smaller sum even than that.

But the men's and women's baths were similar. From the ticket hall, bathers entered a large room, or divan, about 32 ft by 20ft, with a panelled ceiling 'painted in many colours'. On each side were 'open timberwork stalls…constructed of pitch pine, furnished with low benches for dressing and undressing, separated by sheeted partitions and screened from view by scarlet curtains.' Above, approached by a small flight of steps, was an area furnished with loungers where bathers were able to rest after their bath and obtain coffee and a chibouk.

Leading off this cooling-room, the 16 ft square tepidarium was fitted with reclining slabs, and had a vaulted ceiling inset with variegated lights. Ventilators in the wall regulated the temperature. The hotter caldarium was similar in shape, size and manner of lighting.

The hot rooms were heated by a hypocaust running underneath floors finished with various patterns of Minton's tiles.

We can get a more informal view of how the baths appeared to the visitor, and of the bathing procedure adopted, by quoting further from the visitor calling himself 'a moist man'. 4

I was conducted into a large room around which were arranged little curtained pavilions about the size and shape of a four-post bedstead. The room was decidedly Turkish in its aspect and appointments, the crescent form being as far as possible given to every thing, while ottomans and other matters of oriental furniture were to be seen. The servants wore long scarlet flowing dressing gowns and Turkish slippers, and on stands were arranged trays with china coffee-cups, &c...

The calidarium...was still more ottomanic than the [tepidarium], being in dim prismatic twilight, and without windows, unless the little star-shaped scraps of crimson, blue, and amethyst-stained glass, artistically inserted in the vaulted roof, could be so-called.

Inside the calidarium is another room, some five-and-twenty degrees hotter than that in which we were. Through the heavy curtains which guarded the door way between both, I could hear the wooden clogs moving about the inner apartment, and ever and anon the curtain was raised, and we were joined by a gentleman literally reeking from those still more torrid regions; for though it is requested that persons will not pass to the hottest place without permission or direction from the attendant, there seemed to be no objection to those who had passed the curtain emerging once more into the less ardent sphere. Every two or three minutes, a man entered with a tray full of glasses of cold water, which he politely handed round to us, and which we drank...

Thus we passed the melting moments, the attendants walking round us from time to time, and testing our sudorific state by slapping us on the back and shoulders.

Dr Barter's involvement in all aspects of the running of the baths was most important. Just prior to their opening, he gave two lectures on the 'Past and Present History and Social Bearing of the Improved Turkish or Irish Bath' with 'full directions for its use in health and disease'. 11

He also ensured that there was medically based supervision of the bathers while in his establishments. Not only were bathers required to check with an attendant before entering the hottest room, but they were sometimes told, as was our 'moist man', that they were already sweating sufficiently without using it at all.

During the week in which the baths opened—they were closed on Sundays—the receipts were £55 12s. 3d.7 However, we cannot tell how this sum was made up in terms of how many bathers there were in each class, how many shampoos were given, or how much was due to the sale of refreshments. But we do know that during its first four years, 115,000 tickets were sold—an average of over ninety bathers per day. 8

Additional income would have been received from the use of the Turkish baths for horses (though no evidence has come to light to indicate whether these were successful or not), and from the restaurant adjoining the baths. The latter was never directly operated by the Baths Company but leased to a number of restauranteurs over the years, the contract usually being put out to tender. 12

Between 1861 and 1870 it was known as the Café de Paris and run, in turn by Burman & Muret, Olin & Muret, Pierre Olin and, finally, Mme Olin. For the next four years it was run by a Mr Thomas Woycke, from 1875 by Patrick Barrett, and from 1885 until the baths closed by Mrs Jane Barrett.

The restaurant, it can be assumed therefore, must have been a profitable one, but we do not know whether the company received a percentage of the profits, or only an annual rental.

Each of the restauranteurs advertised different aspects of their service. Olin & Muret emphasised that their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners were in 'the best French style' and that dinners were 'supplied in town and country'. 13

Irish Times ad

Irish Times (14 Feb 1861) p.1

The advertisement which Muret & Olin placed in the Irish Times on 14 February 1861 has a place in Irish restaurant history also, according to Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire, as this is the first specific evidence of a French restaurant serving haute cuisine in Dublin. Mac Con Iomaire suggests 38 its opening 'may have coincided with the introduction of the Refreshment Houses and Wine Licences' Act of 1860 which, by granting wine licences to restaurants, aimed to encourage sobriety.

In 1865 they were doing so well that they added three extra dining rooms for private parties, 14 and provided early morning breakfasts for those who took advantage of the Turkish baths being 'open on the arrival of the Early Mails, at 4.30 am' and had their 'Luggage taken care of'. 15

In 1870 Thomas Woycke added a coffee room for ladies and also offered board and lodging.16 In 1877 Patrick Barrett emphasised that his 'Sleeping Apartments' were 'available for travellers and for ladies coming to town for the purpose of taking Turkish Baths',17 and by the following year his sleeping apartments had turned into Barrett's Family Hotel. 18

Changes in management at the Turkish baths, though not as frequent as those at the restaurant, were of rather more significance. The first of these occurred around 1867 in circumstances which remain unclear.

Since its opening, the baths had been directly operated by the Turkish Bath Company of Dublin with the continued involvement of Dr Barter and with Stephen Stokes (the original appointee) as Superintendent.19 (The original Matron, a Miss Cranwell, was replaced in 1866 by a Mrs Stokes—perhaps, Reader, she married him?) 20

By 1867, Dr Barter had ceased to have any connection with the Lincoln Place baths, and the company had leased them to Richard H Bushe, JP, the baths continuing to be run on a day-to-day basis by Mr and Mrs Stokes.

In October that year, an advertisement for the baths appeared in the Irish Times 21 announcing that the new lessee,

to meet the requirements of the Medical Profession and the Public has had the Baths newly decorated and fitted with CRYSTAL FOUNTAINS—Which create a genial moisture in the hot rooms...

This is surprising for a number of reasons: first, it was by now generally accepted that the use of dry heat resulted in a more effective Turkish bath; second, those members of the medical profession who had attacked Barter's Improved Turkish bath claiming that only moist air was medically safe to use had largely been discredited and their motives seen not to have been objective (see: The hot air controversy: wet air or dry air?); third, in an 1860 discussion in The Lancet 22 on the reintroduction of the Turkish bath in Europe and who should have the credit for it, Bushe had been one of Barter's main supporters and was reported as considering that the bath was 'greatly improved by the adoption of the old Roman method of heating, and by the abandonment of the Turkish "innovation" of admitting vapour.'

One can only assume that there had been a major board room clash on matters of principle—perhaps arising from a need to reverse a fall in the number of bathers. But without any company records we will probably never know why such a dramatic volte-face was being proposed for one of Barter's showpiece establishments.

Barter, meanwhile, was considering a fresh start in Dublin and in June 1868 advertised,23 from St Ann's, that he,

Wanted immediately to lease or purchase a suitable site in a central part of the city, the north preferred, for the erection of a first class Turkish Bath; a good residence would be desirable.

This was to lead barely nine months later to the opening of The Hammam at 11-12 Upper Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street) on 17 March 1869.

In addition to the controversial crystal fountains which were installed at Lincoln Place in October 1867 to add moisture to the hot rooms, the company redecorated the public areas and installed hot and cold water baths in the men's and women's baths at 1/6 per bath, 'For the accommodation of those who desire FIRST CLASS WATER BATHS—a want long felt in Dublin'. 21

The next refurbishment, in 1875, was in two phases. More up-to-date showers were installed 24 early in the year, and a few months afterwards, but many years after other establishments with similar pretensions, came the addition of 'a commodious and ample Plunge Bath…without any additional charge.' 25

The opening hours of the baths had been varied over the years to try to attract additional bathers. Travellers had always been a promotional target and, after the refurbishment, the new water baths were opened so that,

Persons arriving by the mails at 4.30 am can gain admittance by ringing the bell, and can have their bath and breakfast, and be in time to proceed to the Holyhead boat. 26

Later advertisements stressed the closeness of the baths to Westland Row Station. 27

Around this period, competition between the three main Turkish baths in Dublin—Lincoln Place, Barter's Hammam, and the newly opened establishment next to Millar and Jury's Hotel in Stephen's Green—was quite fierce, with all three establishments advertising regularly in the local newspapers.

The Lincoln Place baths were at a disadvantage. Their prices were higher than those of the others and had to be lowered. They were the oldest of the three establishments and had lost their connection with Barter. The new baths in Stephen's Green were heated and ventilated by more modern methods and were deemed by many to be far superior in this respect. Furthermore, the latter baths were situated close to the Royal College of Surgeons, forcing Lincoln Place to compete by making an offer of reduced prices for all members of the medical profession. 28

By 1880, the directors had either had enough or been forced to call it a day, and the company had gone into voluntary liquidation. An advertisement appeared on 24 February 29 offering Lincoln Place Turkish baths for sale by tender, 'well fitted up and in working order as a going concern'.

They were purchased by their new rivals, Millar and Jury. The baths were closed for refurbishment, reopening on 30 November. The main change was the installation of the same heating and ventilation system which had proved so successful at Stephen's Green. 30

The new owners were unlucky, however, for less than six months after installing their new ventilation system they were taken to court by a Mr Peter Lawlor for 'alleged negligence'. 31 Lawlor and two friends had visited the baths on 4 April 1881 and while resting in the cooling-room were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes and lost consciousness. The Manager, John Curran, sent for a Doctor, Henry Sherlock, who treated them, and after a few hours they returned home. Lawlor later claimed to be suffering headaches and 'palpitations of the heart' and had to see the doctor on three further occasions.

In court, Dr Sherlock confirmed that the plaintiff's illness was caused by carbon monoxide gas. The case for the defence was that there was 'no negligence or unskilfulness on their part, either in the construction of the baths or in their maintenance', and that the illness was caused by the plaintiff's own negligence in using the bath after being warned not to do so.

Curran testified that when the three arrived he warned them not to take a bath as there was a smell of sulphur, but Lawlor said 'the smell of sulphur would only give them an appetite for breakfast.' After the doctor left, the plaintiff and his friends 'took a nap on the couches, and went away laughing, stating that they were as right as a fiddle'.

Under cross-examination Curran said that one of the attendants also lost consciousness. Asked about the cause of the incident, Curran thought that it was an obstruction in the flue 'caused by its being shaken by the storm of the previous night. Further employees were called who confirmed that the three men were warned not to enter the bath.

The jury returned a verdict in favour of Lawlor, but he was only awarded damages of sixpence and refused costs.

The baths were closed for a fortnight after this incident while repairs and further alterations were carried out. Coming so soon after the installation of their new ventilation system, a case of this nature must have been a considerable setback.

One result of this was that the quality of the heating and ventilation system ('acknowledged so perfect') 32 and its origin at the Stephen's Green Turkish Baths, was to be a feature of all future advertising for the Lincoln Place baths. And many of the company's advertisements, such as this one from an 1885 guidebook,33 drew the readers attention to both their establishments together.

Joint advert

There were other problems too. Just as Millar & Jury had given the Turkish Bath Company of Dublin new competition when they opened in Stephen's Green, so were they themselves faced with powerful competition when a new establishment opened in Leinster Street, almost opposite the Lincoln Place baths, just a year after their court case.

Worse, the owners of the new Turkish bath were William and James Sloane, the father and son team which had installed their own heating and ventilation system in Stephen's Green. Finally, although the new baths were aimed at a less affluent clientele, their offer of first class Turkish baths for only a shilling forced Millar & Jury to lower the prices at Lincoln Place and, at Stephen's Green, offer second class Turkish baths for only sixpence at any time of the day. 34

The emphasis on the superiority of their heating and ventilation system continued during the eighties and into the nineties, but a new emphasis on health, general at first, began to appear. 35

1890 advert

But later, advertisements appeared which offered the Turkish bath as an effective means of preventing cholera.36 Headed 'HOW TO MEET THE CHOLERA', it suggests that the best safeguard is 'sound and vigorous health' and that those who live in towns can avail themselves of the Turkish bath to purify the blood and tone the body. 'Those whose blood is pure and whose tissues are sound and in vigour are not the soil in which the Microbe of Cholera will take root and flourish.'

As the 1890s progressed competition between the main Turkish baths—the Hammam started by Barter on the north of the River Liffey, and four others south of the river—Millar & Jury decided to revert to their main interest, running hotels.

In 1889 William and James Sloane struck again, opening a new low price Turkish bath on an adjacent side of Stephen's Green. By 1897 they had sold their Stephen's Green baths to James Stean Millar, and in June 1900 advertisements appeared 37 in the Scotsman, Manchester Guardian and the Irish Times offering the Lincoln Place Turkish Baths, Manager's house, and restaurant for sale as a going concern with vacant possession.

Sale advert

But whoever bought the premises, they were never again used as Turkish baths. They were demolished some time around 1970.

The Lincoln Place Turkish Baths were, famously, called 'the mosque of the baths' by Leopold Bloom in James Joyce's Ulysses. But they could not have been 'one of Leopold Bloom's first ports of call on 16 June 1904', as claimed by Frederick O'Dwyer 9 (among others). It is not merely, as we have noted, that the baths closed four years before Bloomsday; Bloom does indeed notice the baths building in passing, but actually only had time for an ordinary bath which he took at the Turkish and Warm Baths at 11 Leinster Street, opposite, as discussed elsewhere on this site.



Thank you icon

     

Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire, for permission to quote his unpublished PhD thesis

Aida Yared, for permission to use her image of the 1895 guidebook advertisement