Turkish Baths opens doors after £10,000 history project
A BUILDING awash with memories threw open its doors to visitors following a £10,000 project.
Throughout the year, the current occupants of the Turkish Baths, in Great Moor Street, have been collecting information on the building’s history, its many visitors and the people who worked there.
The event, last week, showcased the results of the Heritage Lottery Fund project to reveal the findings and restore some areas to their former glory.
Barbara Kerks, from Time2 Communities, an organisation which has its headquarters in the building and obtained the funding, said: “It’s gone very well. We found out some interesting things and met some very interesting people.
“It’s been very much the hub of the town, certainly for older people, for many years. Even if you didn’t go to the Turkish Baths, you knew someone who did.
“It was an integral part of life, throughout the classes.”
People who had been photographed at the baths, which opened in September, 1891, contacted staff to share their memories, including remembering the ceiling painted with stars.
A new piece of artwork, by Dani Gaines, from Bolton, was also unveiled at the event.
The textile piece was commissioned to commemorate the baths and was based on the original plans, given a modern twist by the visual artist.
A photograph of the baths, published in the American Architectural Journal, when they were first opened in 1891, was also purchased for £33.
Mrs Kerks added: “It was an informal evening for people to come along to see what’s left of the building.”
Winnie Horrobin, aged 84, who worked at the Turkish Baths for 10 years in the 1950s and 1960s, said it was a bit of a shock when she saw the building.
She added: “It is a completely different place. I had many happy hours here and made lots of friends.”
Ken Ward, of Broomfield Road, Deane, said his father, Charlie, used to attend the baths regularly.
The 64-year-old said: “I think it has been beautifully preserved. We have nothing else. No market hall left. This is about the last thing we have left in Bolton.”
Robin-Scott Smith, of Green Lane, Great Lever, added: “I think it should stay. Places like these are so rare and it is great to have it refurbished.”
The baths were a feature of Bolton life for almost 100 years before they closed in 1980.
The Grade II listed building was the place to be seen, where people from all walks of life would go for massages or submerge themselves in a six-foot plunge pool.
Time2 Communities, a time banking organisation, which sees people exchange an hour of their time for the good of the community, has been based in the building for more than a year and carried out the project to keep its memory alive.
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