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Upperthorpe Baths, All Hands To The Pumps


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I've never seen the plans, but it was always said that Upperthorpe Library and Highfield Library, both built about the same time, are mirror images of each other. A few years ago the ceremonial trowel from the laying of the foundation stone at Highfield came up for auction and was acquired by the City Libraries. I don't know if one exists for Upperthorpe.

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The Baths had a long and difficult path to being built, stretching from 1874 to its opening in 1896.

August 1874: Town Council inspected the proposed site of the Free Library and Baths

November 1874: Arrangements were being made for the laying of the foundation stone of the Upperthorpe Free Library and Baths by Alderman Jessop. It appears that the baths were not actually built for some reason.

August 1878: A public meeting was held to arrange to push the Council to use the land at the side of the Free Library for baths.

September 1878: a plan for the proposed baths was available and was referred to the Bath sub-committee.

October 1883: There was still debate about the baths – it was pointed out that Attercliffe baths was losing £500 per annum.

January 1891: It was proposed that a Baths sub-committee be formed.

February 1891: At the quarterly Town Council meeting Mr R Nicholson said that his constituents “were desirous of obtaining the same facilities as other parts of the town for washing themselves (Laughter)”. As regards Attercliffe baths he thought that “the Improvement Committee must have had something to do with building them (Laughter)”. A committee was appointed.

Over the next few months the committee’s remit expanded to include the provision of baths at Brightside and Park.

June 1894: The committee reported. Within a half mile radius of the proposed site there were 10,865 houses, only 116 with baths. It was recommended that part of the leasehold land next to the library should be used, and that the council adopt the plans drawn up by the Borough Surveyor, which showed a building with a swimming bath, 30 slipper baths, and a caretaker’s house. The cost was not to exceed £5,238.

March 1892: The proposal was still being debated in council meetings. Councillor Sharman raised doubts about the estimated cost. Mr Leader said “there had been a great deal of curiosity …as to the author of a celebrated bathing story concerning a man who had missed his annual bath, but they had that day discovered it was Mr Sharman (Laughter)”

January 1893: The proceeds of a sale of land next to Attercliffe baths had raised £400, and this was to be applied to the purchase of a piece of land at Upperthorpe for baths.

The building then happened quickly and with little comment.

On 19th May 1896 the Independent had an advertisement for the opening of the baths:

And on the 23rd May, reported the opening and gave some details:

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