Putney Baths 1955 Wandsworth Richard Shaw Local History Historian Battersea Library 1994
Putney Baths opened 1886 These Baths had an interesting life starting out as privately owned, and many changes of use.
Survived as swimming Baths for 18 years until 1914
Info. extracted from Wandsworth Historian No 47 1986
Information gleaned from William Bishop and the Putney Baths by Peter Thomas
The story was that back in 1893 it was decided that Public Baths and Washrooms were a must due to the fact that very few houses had washrooms or even plumbed in washbasins. The buildings would come out of rate payers money which wasn’t exactly popular.
A good Samaritan Mr William Bishop had taken a building lease on a vacant plot created by pulling down dilapidated property, including an ancient residence on the south side called Cromwell House who many believed that the Lord Protector had at one time resided. This period also included the widening of Wandsworth Lane later called Putney Bridge Road. Mr William who lived in Somerset Lodge in Richmond owned a stone quarry, and was a major shareholder in the Wandsworth Lime and Cement Company Ltd.
The new Baths were erected at the corner of Putney bridge Road and Burstock Road,and designed by Lee bros Architects.They were opened on June 20th 1886. The front elevation was substantial and pleasing having on each side of the entrance double fronted shops.
The main entrance didn’t lead to the baths but to a suite of rooms on the second floor. These rooms lined with stained pine were used for art classes and evening parties accomodating up to 300 people. Known as Cromwell Hall.
On the first floor, approached by separate entrances for ladies and gentlemen were private baths with hot and cold running water. There was another door that led to the large swimming bath. This was open to Ladies’ Days and Gentlemens’ Days.
The bath was 120 ft x 47ft wide, and the depth of water ranged from 3ft 62 to 6ft 8″. There were a total of 67 changing rooms aroung the bath. There was a gallery with space for up to 700 spectators for aquatic shows and competitions. There was a cafe room near the entrance to the Turkish baths and Shampooing Room.
The baths for a while we’re permanently floored for concerts etc ” Cromwell Hall” including “Les Cloches De Corneville” Opera, Burlesque and Extravaganza. They did reopen once again as a swimming bath for a short period. Swimming was taught to the Ladies by “Mrs Walker” and to the Gentlemen “Mr Barton.”
After Mr Bishops death on March 12th 1910 his widow Helen took over the proprietorship of the Putney Baths.
OUTCOME: The Baths slowly went out of use in 1914 around the time of the First World War. No- one is able to give good reason for this. It was then used as a Furniture Depository, a Linen Drapers Warehouse and after the Second World war the Baths became a Polish University College. In 1955 Battersea Polytechnic took it over for their Mechanical Engineering Department which later was absorbed by Surrey University. The Putney Baths building became empty in the 80s again there are no good reasons as to why, and was demolished around 1990.