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Latitude: 50.8515 / 50°51'5"N
Longitude: 0.5536 / 0°33'12"E
OS Eastings: 579843
OS Northings: 108886
OS Grid: TQ798088
Mapcode National: GBR PX9.GRV
Mapcode Global: FRA D61V.9H5
Entry Name: The Bath House
Listing Date: 27 November 2006
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1392240
English Heritage Legacy ID: 504170
Location: Hastings, East Sussex, TN38
County: East Sussex
Electoral Ward/Division: Central St Leonards
Built-Up Area: Hastings
Traditional County: Sussex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex
Church of England Parish: St Leonards-on-Sea St Leonard and St Ethelburga
Church of England Diocese: Chichester
This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 10/01/2017
St Leonards on Sea
WEST HILL ROAD
The Bath House
(Formerly listed as Scientific House)
Turkish baths with later covered salt water swimming pool. The northern part was built in 1864 as a Turkish baths for the "Turkish Bath Company Saint Leonard-on-Sea Limited"; the architect was Mr H Burton from London. The attached south swimming pool was built about 1871 for the newly established St Leonard's School in Archery Road. Gothic Revival style.
MATERIALS: Red brick in English bond, painted, with stucco parapet to front elevation. Hipped roof, originally slate-clad but currently covered with concrete tiles with truncated eastern chimneystack.
PLAN: The north part is a one-storey and basement entrance block, originally providing the manager's office and gentlemen's waiting room on the left, and on the right a waiting room for ladies, with basement boiler room and later entrance, changing facilities and basement plant room. There is a double height single storey swimming pool of six bays to the south.
EXTERIOR: Symmetrical entrance block to north has brick dogtooth cornicing and to the front elevation a stucco finished banded parapet with paired pyramidal topped pinnacles over entrance and end piers with triangular finials. Contrasting window and door head surrounds forming pointed arched openings and with additional pedimental hood mould to entrance, contrasting impost level chevron string mould and window cill level string mould. Brick window surrounds contain paired Early English style Gothic window openings of stone with plate window tracery and centre quatrefoil, over central column carrying foliate capital. Internally the windows are sash windows with verticals only. All wall surfaces are currently over painted. Coupled roof with hipped ends and eastern elevation chimneystack reduced to eaves level.
Behind is a symmetrically-arranged pool block with sandstone plinth walling with red brick above. Large coupled roof with hipped ends, originally slate clad but currently covered in concrete tiles. Continuous clerestorey window band at mid height level. Leaded stained glass windows is either original or of circa 1900. The roof lights to the upper roof are probably not original.
INTERIOR: The entrance block has one room to the north east and two to the north west including a tiled cloakroom. Original timber panelled doors. Access to the pool hall from the entrance block is by a radial plan timber stair with swept balustrade and handrail. There is a fully exposed timber roof structure to the pool hall with strong Gothic Revival influences. There are a series of scallop carved and roundel decorated roof trusses incorporating braced kingposts, with multiple bracing at the hip ends, and with pendants to the undersides of the tiebeams and principal rafters and curved bracing at the eaves. Curved kingpost braces extend to the upper half of the trusses raising the roof for the clerestorey. Fully boarded roof. The wall frame has chamfered upright posts with moulding below bolted curved braces. Solid brick walls, plaster finished and currently sheeted over with plain faced board (possibly asbestos board). The perimeter width of the floor area is quarry tile finished in chequerboard pattern as the perimeter to the original pool. The whole central area of the original pool is oak boarded on a timber beam structure. The pool area, sloping from 900 to 1800 cm depth, is lined with white ceramic tiles.
HISTORY: The northern part of the building was built originally as Turkish baths by a company called "Turkish Bath Company Saint Leonard's-on-Sea Limited", when an earlier Russian baths owned by a Mr Groslobb on West Hill burnt down. The company was founded in 1863, the new building designed by a London architect Mr H Burton and Emil Groslobb was appointed the proprietor. The baths opened on the 8 August 1864.
The first Turkish baths to have been built in the British Isles was in 1857 in Blarney, county Cork, and the first in London in 1860. This St Leonard's example was unusual in being designed like a Russian banya or steam bath, rather than a Turkish baths. It included a manager's office and gentlemen's waiting room on the left, and on the right a waiting room for ladies. There was a cooling room with changing cubicles, a hot room or caldarium with hot air passing through ducts in the floor and benches at various heights, a tepidarium, separate shampooing room and a washing area with needle shower, douche bath and a shower bath. There was also a private bath for invalids and those who required more privacy. The boiler and ancillary equipment were housed in the basement. Prices ranged from 1/6d to five shillings. An open space was retained to the rear of the building to provide an intended swimming pool; this had not been built by 1869 when the baths closed. The company went into liquidation.
The building was sold to the newly established St Leonard's School occupying Archery villas built by James Burton (listed Grade II) and the date 1871 is inscribed over the entrance. A purpose-built covered sea water swimming bath was built to the south of the Turkish Baths. The whole building, including the swimming bath, is shown on William Gant's map surveyed in 1874 where the whole building is called St Leonard's School Swimming Baths.
A later C19 photograph shows the entrance block before the brickwork was painted with decorative polychrome brickwork. It also shows that the parapet to the front elevation had a pierced stone parapet with trefoils, decorative ironwork cresting to the roof, and there were two tall brick chimneystacks, the eastern one built to extract the smoke from the boiler heating the air for the Turkish baths, the western one part of the boiler house to heat the water in the swimming pool.
The building remained in school use until the 1930s. After that it was used by St Leonard's Church congregation whilst their own church was being rebuilt following enemy action in 1944. From 1958 a glass manufacturing company occupied the building and since 1978 it was utilised as a small workshop facility. It was unoccupied at the time of survey.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The northern entrance building is a delightful essay in Gothic Revival style and the south pool building has an unusual and inventive trussed kingpost structure. The northern part is an early and rare surviving example of a Turkish baths, of which only seven other Victorian examples are listed, only one of these earlier by a year or two. The swimming pool is a little altered C19 purpose-built indoor school swimming pool. In addition it is a very rare example nationally of a salt water covered swimming pool. It is a symbol of the increasing value the Victorians placed on the benefits of swimming and particularly the health benefits of sea bathing for all ages, including growing children. It has group value with other listed buildings within a designated conservation area.
SOURCES: Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings pamphlet "Taking the Plunge - The Architecture of Bathing", p.16.
This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.
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