Public Baths in Bridlington

1803 to Present Day

Compiled by Brian Gautier

The first guide to the resort of Bridlington was published in 1803 and by 1813 the Quay was being recommended for the hot and cold baths, bathing machines, sea breezes, coastal scenery etc. Benjamin Milne’s hot baths were opened in 1803 “fitted up in the first style of elegance”. Mr Milne was well regarded in the town as shown in the following extract from Baines's Directory of the County of York (1823) www.genuki.org.uk

Mr. Milne, ………….., is entitled to rank amongst the principal benefactors of Bridlington. - To his public spirit and active mind the town is indebted for its daily post, the public baths, and the erection of the lighthouse at Flamborough. This gentleman was a Yorkshireman by birth, and was born at Brockwell, in Sowerby, near Halifax, on the 15th of October, 1751. In 1791 he was appointed collector of the customs at this port; and on the 22nd of February, 1819, he died, to the general regret of all who had witnessed his career of active usefulness.

The resort’s amenities steadily improved during the early 19th century. In 1815 new baths were built which had no competition until in 1844, Bishop’s Improved Baths were erected near the Esplanade. This is shown opposite on this segment of a map of Bridlington Quay dated 1854.

The Burlington and East Riding Advertiser of
11 July 1844 reported that Bishop's Improved Baths had “all the modern improvements with separate suites for men and women”.

These baths remained until about 1860 when they were removed during construction of the new sea wall parade. Bishop’s Baths feature in the photograph below. The old wooden sea defences can be seen in the foreground and the distinctive roof line of the Alexandra Hotel stands out on the sky line in the far distance.


This left the Old Baths on Cliff Terrace with a monopoly in the provision of indoor bathing facilities until the appearance of the advertisement below in the Bridlington Free Press of 4 July 1874. In a separate report the newspaper warmly welcomed the opening of the New Baths which had been built by a Mr George William Travis beside the harbour in Queen’s Square. A detailed description of the facilities was given.

“On the upper floor which is in fact on a level with the road, are Ladies’ Baths which comprise Turkish, Russian or Vapour, and hot or cold salt or fresh water Baths. Each Bath-room is fitted up and furnished with everything appropriate. Descending to the floor beneath are Gentleman’s Baths, arranged in much the same manner and equally convenient and comfortable”

The Bridlington Free Press report also described how a supply of sea water was siphoned from the bay and fresh water was obtained from a tidal spring beneath the building. The phenomenon of these ebbing and flowing fresh water tidal springs around the Quay had been first discovered in 1811 by none other than the previously mentioned Benjamin Milne. A steam engine provided both pumping effort and a supply of hot water.

If his business venture was successful Mr Travis intended to use some adjacent land to build a swimming bath and also for baths of a “third class nature”.


In 1879 the Old Baths on Cliff Terrace, providing Hot and Cold Sea Water, were still in use, being run by Edward Henry Rycroft. This appears in the Post Office Directory for Yorkshire and the North East Ridings of that year
alongside a reference to the New Baths of Mr Travis. These baths in Queen's Square were still going strong nine years later, in 1888, but under the new management of Mr William Pool and with the addition of a Steam Laundry. This is described in the advertisement below which appeared in Bulmer's History and Directory of East Yorkshire of that year.
Pool's Baths Advertisement

Below is a view from Langdales Wharf of Pool's Baths and Laundry in about 1900

Pool's Baths 1890

The details of the facilities provided at the Baths and Laundry are revealed in the transcript below from the Bridlington Quay Illustrated of 1892 which promotes the Victorian ethic of cleanliness.

POOL’S
BATHS AND STEAM LAUNDRY
QUEEN’S SQUARE

In providing Bridlington Quay with the great advantages that his dual businesses offer Mr. Pool has been a public benefactor. The two are akin to each other, in that they are both aids to health and cleanliness, two qualities which are absolutely essential to the proper enjoyment of life.

Turning our attention in the first place to

THE BATHS,

we find an institution that could do credit to a much larger town than Bridlington. The place is arranged and constructed in the most suitable manner, offering a really surprising amount of accommodation. It may possibly be asked, what do we want with baths at Bridlington, with the sea so handy? Well, in the first place, Mr. Pool offers visitors much more than an ordinary sea-bath, and in the second, there are many days when even accomplished swimmers would not care to face the elements, and to the ailing or delicate, of whom so many come here in search of health, a tepid sea-bath is a positive luxury. Again, it is a great relief to mater-familias to know that her young charges are enjoying a good sea-bathe without any suspicion of danger attaching to their juvenile freaks. The swimming bath, although a fine one, is not however the greatest object of importance at " Pool's; " Turkish baths are provided, as well as shower and slipper baths, and the scrupulous cleanliness characterising the whole of the arrangements is particularly noticeable. The baths are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on week-days, and in addition the swimming bath is open from 7 a.m. to noon on Sundays. Towels and bathing dresses are supplied if necessary, and female attendants are retained to wait on lady-patrons. The abundant supply of fresh and sea-water, direct from theBay is a great convenience, and adds no little to the baths' attractions; the place is well patronized, as it deserves to be', "Pool's Baths " having become quite one of the Institutions of Bridlington Quay.

Of no less importance than the Baths, is the capitally managed

STEAM LAUNDRY,

worked by the proprietor. Although we look to allow ourselves a certain licence in our mode of dressing when at the sea-side, we are as particular as ever about having our things clean and well "got up." The ways of the ordinary rural washerwoman are, however, very often peculiar, and it is something to be desired to find a place where satisfaction in laundry matters can be assured. To meet such a want Mr. Pool started his Steam Laundry, and having, at considerable expense, fitted it with all the necessary appliances; can guarantee work being turned out here that certainly cannot be equalled in Bridlington Quay. The place is divided into suitable departments, and whichever we visit, be it the receiving, sorting, washing, drying, ironing, or folding rooms, we find the work going forward with the utmost regularity and despatch. No injurious chemicals are used in washing the clothes, and in fact they are subject to far less strain here than they are when washed by the old primitive methods at home, and in that they are "got up" in a far superior manner cannot be denied. When possible all articles are dried in the open, but good drying rooms are provided for use in unfavourable weather.

Around 1920 Albert Collard Gautier arrived in the town from Islington, London with his wife and two sons and took over the running of these baths. He proceeded to make the baths very much his own, renaming it the Royal Baths and, in the years that followed, became very well known in the town having taught very many Bridlingtonians to swim. He was also renowned for his swimming feats and gave regular demonstrations of trick swimming and escapology from the North Pier.  He died on 30 December 1939 after a long illness and his interment was attended by many Bridlington worthies.

The following year, in August 1940, the baths were destroyed by one of Hitler’s bombs so ending 66 years of use. The extent of the destruction is shown in the photograph below.

Bombed Baths

 Being unsafe, the buildings were demolished and the site was left derelict for many years. This is shown in the view below from the 1960s, which looks across the Chicken Run jetty. Some years later the current harbour walk was constructed across the site.

Baths Site 1960s

Bridlington was then without indoor swimming facilities until 1987 when Leisure World incorporating the current pool was opened on the Grand Pavilion site.

Last updated  20 November 2012