London: Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway
1: The theatre and its Turkish baths 2: Upper levels conversion
3: Lower levels conversion You are here

Wimbledon Theatre Turkish Baths

4. The Turkish baths You can print this page -- Click for printer-friendly version

But, taking everything into consideration, what remains of the original Turkish baths is quite remarkable.

Shower area before restoration The second hot room before restoration The plunge pool before restoration

The shower area: before and after

The second hot room

The plunge pool: before and after

The walls of all the rooms and the staircase are faced with white glazed bricks, with a green glazed brick double dado at about hand height. The floor, seating shelves, and walls of the plunge pool are also faced with white glazed bricks, and the room floors are of terrazzo.

Terrazzo floor

Like the shampooing slabs, the seats in the hot rooms were originally of marble but these were also removed at some stage by a previous occupant. In the restored baths, the original benches have been given new tops to support cushions. Tables and additional seats have been fitted so as to optimise the use of the available space and adapt it to fulfil its new function. The rectangular hot room has a bar and a booth for a DJ.

Part of the first hot room The first hot room after restoration, looking to the bar The plunge pool before restoration

Part of the first hot room

Through the first hot room

In the second hot room

Perhaps the most radical alteration has been the installation of tables and chairs on the floor of the plunge pool. Some might object to this, but it seems to me that this is far better than boarding them over and hiding them again.

Tiled tiered seats in plunge pool No need for the ladder any more!

Two views of the plunge pool after restoration

Closeup of the tiered seats

And if the idea of having a drink in the middle of a plunge pool seems strange, it is hardly new; in 1892, a civic dinner to mark the opening of new public baths in Southampton was held with the guests seated at tables on the floor of the women's swimming pool.6

Turkish bath enthusiasts will surely appreciate that new fixtures (like, for example, the handrails) have not been made to look as if they are of the same period as the original baths, but stand out immediately as modern functional necessities.

On the other hand, when items have necessarily been removed from an area, it is not immediately obvious that a now cosy alcove was originally a shower.

Relaxing in the restored showers

For more than six decades, no one has thought to restore the old baths as part of their business plan—or if they did, they must have been dissuaded by the cost. We must be grateful that so much of this unique Turkish bath can be seen once again.

This page reformatted 31 July 2018

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Tijen Selim O'Reilly

Steve Sotiriou

Mike Lyas