On this day … 31 January 1875

Relic of the old Turkish Baths in Preston
Relic of the old Turkish Baths in the Miller Arcade, Preston © 2015 Tony Worrall

In his diary the Preston journalist and historian Anthony Hewitson recorded visiting a Turkish baths in the morning. This was possibly the establishment owned by William Singleton, Turkish Bath proprietor of 17 Grimshaw Street, which was listed in the 1882 Barrett’s Directory.

Ten years later he would probably have had to walk to 4 Albyn Bank Street where Mrs Elizabeth Gornall was listed as running a Turkish baths in the 1885 Barrett’s Directory for Preston. It seems Mr Singleton’s establishment had closed by that year.

Another Turkish baths was opened in the Miller Arcade in 1901 by Alfred Arbury, who had been operating another establishment in Blackburn for a number of years. The Miller Arcade entrance to the baths, which closed in 1947, can still be seen.

The first modern Turkish bath opened in Manchester in 1857, followed by another in London in 1860. During the following 150 years, over 800 Turkish baths opened in the country. Only eleven of them were still open in 2020, including a magnificently restored example at Harrogate that celebrated its 150th anniversary this year:

The other public baths Hewitson could have visited at this period would have been the Saul Street swimming baths, which had opened in 1870. It had two pools, a larger one which measured 70ft. 9in. long by 41ft. 7in. wide, and a smaller pool, which was reserved for women on certain days of the week.

Does anyone know why the large pool had such odd dimensions?

Before 1870 the only public bath available was the cold water bath on Spa Brow, near Strand Road, and that had closed some twenty years earlier. The water was reckoned to be very cold indeed, and so it was used mainly in the summer. There were changing facilities attached and bathing gowns could be hired.

Andrew Hobbs’ The Diaries of Anthony Hewitson, Provincial Journalist, Volume 1 1865–1887: https://www.openbookpublishers.com/books/10.11647/obp.0262
Hewitson’s History of Preston
Preston trade directories

Turkish Baths, Miller Arcade, Preston.
1904 advertisement for the Miller Arcade baths. Source: Preston Digital Archive

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