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Victorian Turkish Baths

Front cover for Victorian Turkish Baths

Hardback by Malcolm Shifrin


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Victorian Turkish Baths is the first book to bring to light the hidden history of a fascinating institution - the 600-plus dry hot air baths that sprang up across Ireland, Britain and beyond, in the 19th century.

Malcolm Shifrin traces the bath's Irish-Roman antecedents and its origins as physician Richard Barter's hydropathic expertise combined with the passion of idiosyncratic diplomat David Urquhart for the hammams of the Middle East.

The book reveals how working-class members of a network of political pressure groups built more than 30 of the first Turkish baths in England. It explores the architecture, technology and sociology of the Victorian Turkish bath, examining everything from business and advertising to sex in the bath - real and imagined. This book offers a wealth of wondrous detail - from the baths used to treat sick horses to those for first-class passengers on the Titanic.

Victorian Turkish Baths will appeal to those interested in Victorian social history, architecture, social attitudes to leisure, early public health campaigns, pressure groups, gendered spaces and much else besides. The book is complemented by the author's widely respected website, where readers can find a treasure trove of further information.


  1. Background to the Victorian Turkish bath
  2. Early history of the Victorian Turkish bath
  3. Problems and attitudes
  4. Victorian Turkish baths for all
  5. The world of the bather
  6. Victorian Turkish baths in the 21st century

Additional Information

  • Printed Price: £70.00
  • Series: Architectural History
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Format: Hardback
  • Physical Size: 276 x 219 mm
  • Pages: 384
  • Illustration: 450, colour
  • ISBN: 9781848022300


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Victorian Turkish Baths image gallery

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • Milton Road, Swindon entrance to the Turkish baths suite
  • A corner of the caldarium in the ‘Arab baths’ in Gerona, Spain
  • From a stereoview card showing the brickwork of the Bray baths
  • The Lewes Turkish Baths in 2014, over 130 years after they closed
  • A mosaic tiled floor in a hot room at Glossop Road, Manchester
  • At Manchester’s Victoria baths, the rooms are extensively tiled
  • W. E. Wiley’s Turkish baths at this pencil factory, Birmingham
  • Refurbished plunge pool, at the Portobello Baths, Edinburgh, with ‘curtain’ through to the tepidarium
  • Door leading to women’s Turkish baths
  • Lord Armstrong’s Cragside Turkish bath – the wardrobe
  • Lord Armstrong’s Cragside Turkish bath – The drench shower
  • Lord Armstrong’s Cragside Turkish bath – The Turkish bath plunge pool

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