1878 – Turkish Baths, Camden, London

Architect: H.H. Bridgeman


Published in The Building News, November 29 1878: “These buildings, which were opened last night, occupy a triangular site in the rear of two rows of new houses and shops, fronting High-street and Kentish Town-road respectively, the address being 11a, Kentish Town-road. The baths have a frontage to the road of about 7ft. only, and are approached through a corridor 45ft. in length, and entered by a pair of •wrought-iron ornamental gates, having the title of the baths and date of their erection in a circular panel. The upper part of the en. trance consists of a perforated wrought-iron box forming a Moorish arch, enclosed with coloured glass, with the crescent and star thereon, and inside of which are gas burners for illuminating it. The iron arch work rests upon two polished grey granite incised and gilded pilasters, with carved stone caps supporting a pair of stone shafts, from which springs the stone pediment above. On entering the gentlemen’s bath on the first floor is the office, ante-room, and an undressing-room, fitted with boxes around three of its walls, and lighted with stained glass windows. A pitch- pine staircase leads to a similar undressing- room over it, lighted by means of a lantern of pitch pine and rolled glass. On descending another flight of pitch-pine stairs, from the undressing-rooms to the ground floor, the hot rooms are approached. No. 1 hot room (tepidarium) is 24.ft. y- 20ft., and lift, high, fitted with marble slabs on white-glazed brick risers, and also marble backs and turquoise brick strings, above which the walls are stuccoed, and decorated with floral and scroll ornament in panels. The ceiling is similarly decorated.

The light to this room is obtained from the ceiling, and the floor is tiled. No. 2 hot room (calidarium) is 16ft. x 12ft., fitted in a similar manner to No. 1 room, but the floor of this room is cemented, and the room lighted by a figured glass window of three lights. No. 3 hot room (laconicum) is 8ft. x 7ft., is lined throughout with white glazed bricks with a tile ceiling, and is raised three steps above the level of the other rooms. In the floor is fixed a cast-iron grating, up through which rises the heat from the generating room and furnace below (hypocaustum), which in No. 3 room rises as high as 230^ the average temperature, but capable of rising considerably to over 300°. The hot air passing through the door to No. 2 room, heats the above room to about 180°, the average temperature, and then to No. 1 room, where the heat is reduced to 130°, and in some parts of the room it is only 110°. The shampooing-room adjoins No. 1 room, and is 20ft. X 15tt., around which are Sicilian marble seats and marble backs to a height of 3ft. 6in. The turquoise brick string is also continued around this room and above it. The walls are lined with Athenian marble in panels of dove colour and Irish red margin, with a cornice of Sienna marble, the floor being laid with tiles. In this room are the necessary marble bowls fixed in the walls, with hot and cold water laid on to each, also in a circular zinc enclosure, against one side of this room, are secretly fitted most of the special baths — viz., the shower, douche, spray wave, and rose, and ascending douche and spray, all of which have the hot and cold supply so arranged that they can be mingled, and any and every degree of temperature obtained.

From this room is entered the swimming bath, 30ft. x 20rt., and 17ft. high, with tile platform to plunge from, the bath itself being lined with 6in. square tiles of four colours, white, buff, and blue, and chocolate in pattern, and turquoise and chocolate strings, the bath being I respectively 4ft. and 5ft. deep. A 3ft. tile I dado surrounds the bath. Above the dado the walls are finished in Keen’s cement, and ornamented in panels and colour. There is a w.c. and urinal on the bath-landing, also a plat- form overhanging one side of the bath, leading to a pitch-pine staircase at the further end for bathers who do not wish to plunge or swim through the bath. These stairs ascend from both sides of the bath, and meet on a landing, and arrive at the centre flight leading to the cooling room above. The cooling room is 40ft. long, and 20ft. wide, and about 20ft. high to the lantern, which is 7ft. wide, and extends the length of four bays out of the six which occupy each of the two sides of the room. The ends of the room occupy three bays each. This room is lined from floor to the lantern with polished Athenian marble of various colours.

The dado is 2ft. 3in. high, the string of which is Egyptian green, the die jasper in the pilasters, and purple vein in the recesses, and the plinth of Bordella. The ladies’ bath is entirely on the first floor, but is considerably smaller than the gentlemen’s bath. From the landing is entered the ladies’ ante-room, triangular-shaped on plan, lighted by a bay window, which projects into the hall, glazed with antique coloured glass. From the anteroom is entered the dressing-room, partly fitted with boxes and partly with couches appropriately decorated. Through this room is approached a tiled lobbv leading to the first hut room, 15ft x lOtt and 9ft. high, fitted with marble seats, and decorated similarly to the gentlemen’s hot rooms, with tiled floors and ceiling light. The No. 2 room is 9ft. x 8ft., fitted with wooden seats, under which the heated air enters the ladies’ bath, and by means of valves the temperature is nicely regulated. Returning through No. 2 hot room and the lobby, the shampooing-room is entered with tiled floor, and fitted marble seats and backs, and painted walls, antique glass windows, and fitted with precisely the same arrangement of shower, douche, spray, wave, rose, &c., as in the gentlemen’s shampooing- room. The glazing of the various partitions, sashes, and doors throughout the building is with tinted cathedral glass of various designs, both plain and ornamental.

The ventilation has been very carefully provided for. The cold air is admitted into the cooling room by means of perforated panels in the sides of the lantern, with external flaps to regulate the same, and also by means of an appliance made purposely by Mr. Elsley, which from an adjoining room opens six panels or sashes all at once on the top of the lantern, and which can be nicely regulated. The heating apparatus is by Mr. Thomas Whittaker, of Bolton. The bathfittings, including the special and private baths, have been carried out by Messrs. Smeaton and Sons, of Moorgate-street, but the other plumbing work generally has been done by the builder. The total cost, exclusive of site, is about .£5,500; Mr. J. E. Hunt, of St. Paul’s Works, Bow-common, is the contractor, the whole having been carried out under the personal superintendence of Mr. H.H. Bridgeman, architect, of 42, Poultry, E.G., and 71, Park-street, N.W.