In the 19th century, most houses didn’t have indoor bathrooms. If people wanted to bathe, they had to fill a bath with water heated over the fire and washing was usually hung across the streets to dry. To avoid both these problems, Titus Salt built the Bath and Wash houses in 1863 at a cost of £7000 (over £600,000 today). These housed 24 baths, 12 each for men and women and a Turkish bath.
A warm bath would cost 6d. and a cold one 3d. The wash house contained everything people would need to wash and dry their clothes: 48 washing, rinsing and steam tubs, 48 drying closets, a steam dryer and mangles, meaning clothes could be cleaned and dried in under 1 hour.
As in the rest of the North of England, the Bath and Wash Houses did not prove popular. People preferred to bathe in the privacy of their own homes and wash clothes in their own kitchen where they could also complete other tasks.
The buildings were converted into houses in the late 1800s before being completely demolished in 1936. Today, a community garden has been planted on the site, following consultation with residents in 2011.