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Tyne and Wear HER(5163): Newcastle, Gibson St/New Bridge St, Washhouse and Baths - Details

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Newcastle, Gibson St/New Bridge St, Washhouse and Baths



Health and Welfare




Extant Building

Rare example of a now disappeared social phenomenon - the public washhouse - which developed along with other sanitary reforms in the mid Victorian era. 1906-7 by F.H. Holford, City Surveyor. Sandstone ashlar; Welsh slate roof with stone gable copings. Brick chimney. During WW2 the reservoir of water was used by the National Fire Service. The faded sign is still visible next to the door. Building now adapted for badminton. Only one of three pre-1914 swimming baths in Tyne and Wear (the others being Wallsend and Byker). Gibson Street was the fourth public baths built in Newcastle under the Baths and Wash Houses Act 1846 (the aim was to provide individual 'slipper' baths and laundries to combat disease). The building was opened in April 1907. Arthur 'Jack' Jarvis, Olympic swimmer entertained the crowd. The baths cost £28,000. There were separate entrances for men and women with stained glass windows. On the ground floor there are green glazed brick walls. There were 23 slipper baths (only 4 were for women). The swimming pool measured 75 feet x 28 feet. Gibson Street had electricity and water filtration. It had an arched plastered ceiling for improved acoustics. It had amphitheatre seating on both sides, lined at the rear by demountable wooden changing cubicles. The men's entrance retains its original turnstile and ticket windows. Inside the men's entrance hall are four wonderful tile pictures depicting mermaids, a game of water polo, a diver in a striped costume and yachts. Each panel is around four feet x two feet. Lynn Pearson says these are without parallel, even in the palatial historic baths in Manchester, Birmingham and Hull. The two mermaid panels bear the signature of Carter & Co, tile and pottery manufacturers from Dorset. The other two are unsigned. There is a fifth panel which lists the 15 members of the Baths & Wash Houses Committee, the architect and builders, beneath the city's coat of arms. The building is now used for badminton. LISTED GRADE 2




<< HER 5163 >> I. Ayris & S.M. Linsley, 1994, A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Tyne and Wear, p 81; Dept. of National Heritage, of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, 12/413; Lynn Pearson, 2010, Played in Tyne and Wear - charting the heritage of people at play, p 22-23, 173-175

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