A visit to the Slipper Baths

The former Cobden Road Slipper Baths
©Tony Mould: all images copyright protected

No bathroom in our terraced house

When I was young there was no such luxury as a bathroom in the Victorian terraced houses which made up most of the town. I recall we had a galvanised bath tub which hung on the wall of the backyard of our old house. Bath night would involve bringing the tub into the scullery filling it with hot water from the copper, then sitting in and washing all over with coal tar soap. Eventually my cousin Cyril and I would go to the slipper baths on a Saturday morning; taking a towel and the fee of three pence. The Cobden Road Slipper Baths were conveniently situated at the end of Cyril’s road.

Six foot baths in cubicles

The slipper baths were housed in an ornate red brick Victorian building fitted out with numbered cubicles in a long row; each cubicle contained a six foot bath. The water was controlled by an attendant who carried a handle to operate the valves that were situated outside the cubicles. When he allocated a vacant one, he turned both the hot and cold water on, while the occupant tested the bath for temperature before closing the door and getting undressed.

Did you ever go to the Slipper Baths? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below

Always an enjoyable occasion

Amusement was caused at this stage if it was discovered that the water was either too hot or too cold. The procedure in this case, was to call out the cubicles number to the attendant with a request for more cold or hot water, who would come and turn on the appropriate tap, acting on shouted instructions from the occupant. Of course by this time the bather would be stark naked inside the cubicle. While we were bathing we would talk to each other through the partitions; it was always an enjoyable occasion. 

An extract from ‘Brighton Diaries: Memories of a young man in peace and war 1929-1943. Available at Amazon ISBN 0-9544299-5-8

Comments about this page

  • I was in digs in Park Crescent in 1958-59. I wanted to experience a slipper bath so visited Cobden Road. I remember calling to the attendant for more water. I believe there were wood duck-boards on the floor. I can’t recall the price but only a few pence. I visited the 1930s Art Deco baths in Bristol recently.

    By J.G.Hewett (21/09/2015)
  • I used to go with my school, Clarks College, to the swimming baths in Park Crescent near the baths around 1949. Ask anyone named on my The Ridgway, Woogingdean page and they will tell you – that is if they are still alive. I am 80. Robert (Bob) Coe. Now 65 St Gabriels, Cabinteely. Dublin 18 Ireland. 

    By Robert Coe (17/01/2016)
  • My grandfather, Charles Wickham, managed the slipper baths for a while in the 1920s or just before. He, his wife Lilian and their seven children lived at 14 Tidy St in the North Lanes. Charles also ran an illegal bookmakers operation from the house and he was arrested on at least one occasion. I have sepia pictures of the family – and I know that when he was flush he drove a Buick with white walled tyres.

    By Liz Wickham (01/09/2020)

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