The First public baths opened in Liverpool in 1842. They were the idea of Kitty Wilkinson, a laundress who became known as the ‘saint of the slums’ when she began using her own domestic boiler to wash the linen of her neighbours during a cholera outbreak in 1832. Convinced of the health benefits of bathing and laundering, she pushed for the building of a public baths and washhouse which opened in Liverpool in 1842.
Around the middle of the 19th century Dr Richard Barter, a physician in County Cork, had become interested in hydrotherapeutic treatment for his patients. Working with a former diplomat David Urquart, whose posting to Turkey had left him with a strong appreciation of Hammam Baths, the two men opened the UK’s first Turkish Baths at St Anne’s Hydro, Blarney County Cork.
Over the next 100 years Turkish Baths grew in popularity. Railway companies built them for their workers, ocean liners were fitted out with them and some of the most wealthy installed Turkish Baths in their homes.
No precise number is known, but over 700 Turkish Baths are thought to have been built in the United Kingdom. Today only twelve remain in operation and Carlisle’s Turkish Baths are one of only nine of the twelve that are open to the public.
Built in 1909, Carlisle Turkish Baths are technically Edwardian, but the plans and design were drawn up several years earlier and therefore they are more accurately described as ‘Victorian Style Turkish Baths’.
The History of Carlisle Baths
For more information about Victorian Turkish Baths please visit Malcolm Shifrin’s excellent website
‘It ought not to be a question of £s. The health of the people…was the city’s best asset,’ and that the baths would specially benefit the aged and the poor”