Turkish baths? Let’s see if they scrub up!

Workmen have uncovered a Turkish bath while carrying out renovations on the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool.'General Manager Alison Gilmore studies a vent through which steam entered the hot room.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'24-9-2014

Workmen have uncovered a Turkish bath while carrying out renovations on the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool.'General Manager Alison Gilmore studies a vent through which steam entered the hot room. PIC BY ROB LOCK'24-9-2014

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It’s part of Blackpool’s heritage that was feared lost forever...

But history buffs have today revealed how they are painstakingly recovering a relic of the town’s past left unseen for more than five decades.

Blackpool Civic Trust has begun work to restore the turn-of-century Turkish Baths at the resort’s Imperial Hotel, which for more than 50 years have been derelict

The project came about after Trust members were given a guided tour of the hotel by its general manager Alison Gilmore.

Joan Humble, chairman of the Trust, said: “When we visited it was dirty and dusty and full of boxes, but Alison said she was interested in trying to rediscover the Turkish baths.

“As a follow-up she invited her friend (museum consultant Andrew Gladwell) to come up, but he needed volunteers so our members of the Civic Trust volunteered willingly and had a really interesting time removing the plaster that had covered the walls.”

She added: “It was interesting, it was hard work, but we saw results from our hard work.”

In 1901, a suite of Russian, Turkish and seawater plunge baths were built in the basement of the former wing of the hotel.

However, they later went into disrepair after major renovations at the venue during the 1960s.

Mrs Humble added: “Thankfully nobody took hammers and chisels to the walls and destroyed them, so we are hopeful that working with Andrew and with Alison we can make more progress in turn to reveal more.

“It’s important because it’s a part of the history of the

Imperial and also it shows how tastes change and how Blackpool responds to the changing needs of its visitors, so I’m pleased that the Civic Trust is part of the project which is revealing an aspect of the past of a hotel that has always been a landmark in Blackpool.”

Alison added: “I’m thrilled at the discovery of the tiles and can’t wait to see the development over the next few weeks.

“Thanks so much to the support and enthusiasm of Blackpool Civic Trust and Blackpool Heritage who’ve been getting down and dirty in our Turkish baths.”

The volunteers are expected to carry out more work on the site at the end of November which will help restore the find further.