Baths and Washhouses

The provision of public baths and washhouses was an important aspect of the improvement of public health in the nineteenth century.

They were desirable because they encouraged cleanliness of person and clothing.  During the early and mid-nineteenth century, many in the medical profession believed that disease was caused by miasma, or bad air.  A prime cause of this was filth and therefore anything which encouraged cleanliness was considered to be an important part of disease prevention.

Public baths and washhouses made it much easier for people living in cramped and often dirty houses to wash themselves and their clothes.  Offering facilities for drying laundry was also important, as the practise of drying laundry in the home contributed to unhealthy levels of moisture in the air.

Find out more about baths and washhouses in Sunderland by visiting the pages below.

Baths and Washhouses Act

In 1846 an Act was passed to encourage local authorities to build public baths and washhouses.

Sunderland’s First Baths and Washhouse

The first baths in Sunderland was established in 1851 under the new powers.

Baths and Washhouses further developments

The first baths in Sunderland were a success, and the Corporation went on to build additional baths and washhouses.

Baths and Washhouses poster

The Corporation had built three public baths and washhouses by 1859.