Turkish history in Australia
Susan Aykut explains how the impetus for building Turkish Baths in Australia came from the “Turkish Bath Movement” established in Britain by a maverick Scottish politician, David Urquart, who had often visited the baths in Constantinople (Istanbul).
So, after reading her paper, I had to reluctantly give up my imaginings of an exotic Turkish hamam on the edge of Hamilton!
Hot chamber of the men's baths in the Bey Hamam, ThessalonikiFrom an 1880 article in the Maitland Mercury , we learn that a patron of the Baths first undressed in the Frigidarium, and was attired in a suitable bathing costume, to be then conducted into the first hot room, the Tropidarum (heated to 100 degrees). After a time, the attendant escorted the patron to the Sudatorium, where the temperature could reach 160 degrees. Next was a sulphur room, then a shampooing room, where an expert shampooer “in the person of a coloured man” was on hand (although – the article hastens to add - ladies would be waited on by a person of their own sex). Then to the washing room, for a through cleansing, and finally the drying room. The article proclaims that after this experience, the patron is so invigorated they “could easily jump over a four rail fence”! All for five shillings (single bath), 6 baths for a pound, or a quarterly ticket for five pounds.