Wednesday 18 January 2012

On this day 18th January...

1887 – Manchester Road Baths opened

They were opened largely as a result of corporation and municipal officials being shocked by the large numbers of the “great unwashed” when they went to open Bowling Park on the 4th September 1880.

The Baths were situated midway between West Bowling and Little Horton so that they are convenient to residents from both districts.

It was considered desirable to make provision for a branch free library and reading room, the Free Library Committee paying the Sanitary Committee £40 a year to rent the space. The building is therefore larger than would have been required for baths only.

“It is in gothic style, and the main feature of the exterior is a tower of octagonal form, which rises from the front at the junction of Manchester Road and Cotewall Road. There is an entrance to the building on each side of the tower. The ground floor, on the Manchester Road side is arranged for the free library and reading room. The space is 47feet by 23 feet, a high partition being introduced to form separate departments for male and female readers, the part set aside for the later being reached by a doorway which leads to the women’s bath room. The library will be accommodated in a recess erected at the rear of the reading room, from which it will be separated by a counter, across which the librarian will hand books to borrowers in both departments. The arrangements for the baths are a very complex nature. The department for males is on the Cotewall road side of the building, and it is reached through a spacious entrance hall, from which also the curators rooms are accessible. The swimming bath is very capacious, being 60ft in length and 30ft in width. There are 48 dressing boxes, each with a separate compartment for shower baths. Above these dressing boxes there is a balcony supported by cast iron columns and here there are 10 first class and 19 second class slipper baths and accommodation for vapour baths. This portion of the premises is reached by a stone staircase from the entrance hall. The baths for females are situate on the first floor over the reading room, the accommodation comprising four first class and 8 second class slipper baths; there are also a first class and second class vapour bath.”

The baths were also heated by a new more modern method which enabled the bath to be filled with warm water in a tenth of the time of the old method.

The overall cost of the building was £8,000

It was stated that “to some it will be a matter of regret that in the new premises there is no provision for a Turkish bath, but the town is not badly accommodated in this respect. The Corporation, in addition to having department for the Turkish baths at the Thornton Road establishment, about two years since fitted up premises in Horton Road for use as a ladies’ Turkish bath; and there are also private baths of a similar character in another part of the town.”

The Leeds Mercury, Wednesday November 24th 1886

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