Lockwood Spa Baths, Lockwood

Lockwood Spa Baths, later Lockwood Public Baths, is a former baths and now a listed building.


James Crosland Fenton, together with land agent Frederick Robert Jones and surgeon George Wright, obtained the lease of "Lower Spaw Field" on 1 March 1826 for the "full free and uninterrupted use of taking and using all mineral and sulphurous spring and springs of water arising and flowing within or under the said ground". By then, a private company had been formed with a capital of £1,758 15s.[1]

Lockwood Spa Baths was opened on 1 May 1827 at a time when Lockwood was still relatively rural. The spa building was designed by architect John Oates of Halifax who had advertised for masons and carpenters in Decemeber 1825:[2]

PUBLIC BATHS, at LOCKWOOD, near HUDDERSFIELD. — MASONS, CARPENTERS, and other ARTIFICERS, desirous of contracting for the different WORKS, required in erecting PUBLIC BATHS at Lockwood Spa, near Huddersfield, may inspect the Working Drawings and Specifications, at the House of Mr. John Kaye, the Woolpacks Inn, Huddersfield; or at the Office of Mr. Oates, Architect, Halifax, from Thursday the 15th, to Saturday the 24th of December, inclusive.

A trade directory from the period described the township as a suitable summer retreat:[3]

The village of Lockwood is beautifully and delightfully situated in the valley of the Holme about three quarters of a mile from the market town of Huddersfield and lies in a romantic and finely sheltered country. The private lodgings in the village and in Huddersfield are excellent and modern. There are daily coaches to all parts of the Kingdom from Huddersfield and, in short, as a summer retreat Lockwood cannot be surpassed.

White's Directory of 1837 gave a more detailed description:

About half a mile south of the town are Lockwood Spa Baths, in a handsome building erected in 1827. The water is highly esteemed for its medicinal virtues, and it is particularly limpid and sparkling. Its smell and taste are strongly sulphureous, and not saline, though it contains a portion of carbonate of lime and sulphate of magnesia, and its gaseous contents are composed of 35 per cent. of carburetted hydrogen, 17 sulphuretted hydrogen, 7 carbonic acid, and 41 azote. The baths are neatly fitted up with every convenience and comfort, and are abundantly supplied with the spa-water, pumped from the spring by a steam engine. Besides a swimming bath, 13 yards long, 4 yards broad, and 4 feet 6 inches deep, here are separate cold, tepid, warm, vapour, and shower baths. They are within a few minutes walk from Huddersfield, and occupy a finely sequestered spot, sheltered by a lofty ridge on the east side of the river, covered with wood.

In the first edition of his Huddersfield: Its History and Natural History, published in 1859, Charles C.P. Hobkirk wrote:

About a mile on the Sheffield road, beautifully situated on the left bank of the river Holme, are the Lockwood Spa Baths, a neat one-story building in the Grecian style. When viewed from the road, or the high ground above, it presents a very pleasing aspect, embosomed in the trees of the spacious garden which surrounds it, and backed by the craggy and precipitous steep of Spa wood, on the opposite bank of the river. The waters are chalybeate. Some few years ago there was a spring whose waters were strongly impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen, but it has been diverted by Mr. John Shaw, and conducted into Rashcliffe for the general supply of the inhabitants there. During the past season there have been nearly 30,000 bathers at this establishment.

The 1851 Ordnance Survey map of the area shows that the spa was approached along a tree-lined boulevard with ornamental gardens, which branched off from Lockwood Road towards the river. The Bath Hotel was situated on the main road, facing towards the spa. Fields lay either side of both the spa and the hotel. Behind the spa, a wooden bridge spanned the river and gave access to Spa Wood on the far bank.

A contemporary article gave the following description of the spa:[4]

A handsome range of buildings, comprising of warm, tepid, vapour, cold and shower baths, with a large swimming bath and every requisite arrangement for the internal and external use of the water, which issues from a spring and is pumped into the baths by a steam engine.

The following advertisement appeared in the Leeds Intelligencer (27/Apr/1833):


The Public are respectfully informed that those well-constructed and commodious BATHS will be OPENED for the SEASON, on the 1st of 5th Month (May).

All the Baths are undergoing a thorough Repair, and an abundant Supply of SPA WATER to meet every Emergency can now be commanded. A SULPHUROUS FUMIGATING BATH is at present erected on the Principle most generally approved of by the Medical Faculty, and recommended by the them as a most efficacious Remedy in many Cutaneous Diseases, and in Chronic Rheumatism. HOT AIR and VAPOUR BATHS are also in Preparation, so constructed as to allow those powerful Agents to exert their full Influence. A SHOWER BATH is about to be suspended over One of the Warm Baths, in order that those Persons who experience a Determination of Blood towards the Head may have the Benefits of a cold Dash upon the Part affected, whist the Rest of the Body is immersed in Warm Water. William Gaylor and Son, of the Manchester Infirmary Baths, are at present superintending the Erection of these new Baths. The Manager has been many Years afflicted with Spinal Affection, and having derived very decided Advantages from SHAMPOOING, he is desirous of affording Relief by the same Means to Persons similarly affected, when this Mode of Treatment can be adopted under the Sanction of their respective Medical Attendants.

The Baths are pleasantly situated in the Valley of the Holm, Three-Quarters of a Mile from the Town of Huddersfield, and in the immediate Vicinity of the Village of Lockwood, in either of the Places, or at the Bath Hotel, excellent private Lodgings may be obtained on moderate Terms.

Tickets for the Season may be had of Joseph Whalley at the Baths ; the Bath Hotel ; and the Stationers in Huddersfield.

The "private lodgings" were in a row of extant properties on Bridge Street.

Yorkshire Gazette (24/May/1834)

According to an advertisement placed in May 1834, "upwards of ten thousand" had visited the spa during the previous season. At that time, the spa was managed by Joseph and Margaret Whalley, and it was Joseph who had suffered from the "spinal affection" mentioned in the previous advertisement. During the 1834 season, the spa was open from 7am to 8pm.[5]

Another article appeared the same month in the Yorkshire Gazette:[6]

At these baths, near Huddersfield, the Indian mode of shampooing, which found so delightfully refreshing, — those rather painful in its first operations, — is introduced ; and as the water is well adapted to relieve persons suffering under debility, cutaneous disorders, rheumatism, &c., we have no doubt, but this pleasant and romantic retirement will become a fashionable place of resort during the summer months.

Heavy rain in July 1834 was blamed for a landside on the hill behind the spa on the other side of the river. A stretch of the hillside measuring 30 yards in width gave way and "shook the whole neighbourhood, as if it had been the shock of an earthquake". The spa was undamaged, but the force of the slip "was so great as to remove the foot-bridge attached to the baths, four feet from its original station, thrusting it into the bath gardens."[7]

The Leeds Times (22/Aug/1835) reported that despite the drought that had left many rivers nearly dry, "the springs which supply these beautiful and retired baths continue to send forth their ever-spouting streams with unabated vigour" and were still producing around 3,000 gallons of "valuable mineral water" per day.

Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (24/Apr/1852)

By 1845, Jabez Todd was named as the proprietor of the spa.[8] The following year, it was reported that "the much frequented Lockwood Spa Baths, near Huddersfield, have been leased to Mr. John Ellam, of the Bath Hotel."[9] In 1852, the managers were named as William Wood and his wife.[10] Wood was a reknowned swimmer and, despite reportedly being stout and weighing 18 stone, was the winner of an eight-mile endurance swimming race held in the River Thames in London in September 1865 — whilst his fourteen rivals all retired through exhaustion during the race, Wood ended "as fresh as when he started, having swum the distance ... without resting once."[11]

Several articles during the 1850s reported that the first Sunday of May was known locally as "Spa Sunday" and "according to an old custom" is was traditional to partake of the waters.[12]

The Holmfirth Flood of 1852 caused some minor damage:[13]

The pump and trough were removed out of their place ; and a private wooden bridge, leading from the baths to the other side of the river, was splintered in several parts. Being at a great height, the elevation prevented the great force of water from catching it ; which will account for its having received so little injury.

In the summer of 1869, The Rev. D. M. Crane of Greenfield, Massachusetts, visited Huddersfield and wrote a letter back to the editor of the Greenfield Gazette and Courier, which briefly mentioned the spa:[14]

In the southern part of the town are the Lockwood Spa Baths. These are a great resort in the warm season for bathing. The water is strongly impregnated with chloride of sodium, sulphate of soda, and carbonate of lime.

Lockwood Public Baths

By the 1860s, the population of Lockwood had expanded and new mills been built along the riverside. The spa was no longer a peaceful rural retreat and the new Albert Street cut across the ornamental gardens. In 1869, the newly-formed Huddersfield Corporation acquired the baths for £910.[4][15]

Following renovations, William Wood and his wife were appointed as the Superintendent and Matron of the Public Baths on salaries of £70 and £20 per annum respectively.[16] He likely died in 1874 and in October that year, the Corporation advertised for "a man and wife (without children) ... to take charge of the Lockwood Public Baths", but with the Superintendent's salary reduced to £50 per annum.[17] The same salary was offered when the posts were advertised again in the summer of 1881 and again in December 1884. In February 1895, Mr. Eli Shaw and his wife were appointed as Superintendent and Matron on a joint salary of £70.[18]

Until July 1879, when the Ramsden Street Baths (formerly the Apollo Gymnasium) opened in Huddersfield, Lockwood Public Baths were the only baths in the district.

On 29 March 1881, a public meeting was held "to take into consideration the advisability or otherwise of carrying out certain repairs and alterations required at the Lockwood Public Baths, which are in a dilapidated and dangerous condition ; or whether the Baths should be discontinued and disposed off."[19] Evidently the outcome of the meeting was favourable, and the baths were enlarged so that they comprised two slipper baths (male and female) and one large pool measuring 17 yards by 6 yards.[15]

Until the late 1930s, when a United filter was installed, the baths lacked a filtration system. As the most popular bathing days were Monday and Thursday, the pool was instead completely emptied and refilled on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. During these periods, the water was sterilized by the addition of liquid sodium hypochlorite to the pool.[15]

The takeover by the Corporation also saw the baths being used by local schoolchildren, with Mount Pleasant Board School beginning swimming lessons there in 1874. By 1896, "the baths were also used by Stile Common, Crosland Moor, Newsome, Berry Brow Church and Board Schools and also by Royds Hall Secondary School".[4]


The site continued to operated as a public baths until shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War. Following closure in April 1941, the baths were used as a gas storage depot.[15]

In 1946, the Corporation took the decision to close the building and, in November that year, the company of J. Shaw, Son and Greenhalgh purchased the building and converted it into an engineering works.

Discovering Old Huddersfield

Extract from Discovering Old Huddersfield (1993-2002) by Gordon & Enid Minter:

One third of a mile after turning into Albert Street stop somewhere in the open space just before Shaw Valves to consider the building on the left, now the premises of Messrs Sykes and Dyson. Described at the time of its erection as "a handsome range of buildings" this was once Lockwood Spa Baths, considered at the time to be the "most complete establishment of the kind in the West Riding of Yorkshire".

The chalybeate spring waters which rise at Lockwood have a sulphurcontent and in the nineteenth century it became fashionable to administer such water to the body both externally and internally. In 1827, to exploit the fashion and, hopefully, to establish at Lockwood a spa town that would rival Harrogate, a private company built large spa baths over a sulphur spring on the river bank. At the same time an hotel was built nearby, lodging houses were provided in Lockwood, gardens were laid out in front of the baths and a new "rustic" bridge behind led to more gardens across the river.

In 1828, the charges at the baths were:

Swimming bath — 6d.
Private cold and shower bath — 1s. 0d.
Buxton bath 86° — 1s.6d.
Warm bath — 2s. 0d.
Vapour baths — 3s. 6d.
Annual subscription (swimming bath) — 10s. 6d.
Family to all the cold baths — one guinea.

Interestingly, parties could be accommodated with tea, by the bathkeeper at one shilling each. For the time, these charges were quite high and it is likely that the baths were patronised more by the better off members of the community than by the factory workers who lived all around. By the 1860s, in addition to the above, sulphurous, shampoo and fumigating baths were available and the spa was attracting some thirty thousand visitors annually, promising them cures for "glandular, rheumatic, gouty, dyspeptic, scorbutic and all other kinds of cutaneous complaints."

At the time of its building the Spa's promoters, naturally anxious to attract custom, truthfully described Lockwood as "...beautifully and delightfully situated about ¾ of a mile distant from the Market-Town of Huddersfield (it) lies in a romantic and finely sheltered country with good roads in every direction." How sad that such an idyllic scene was so soon to be overwhelmed by ugly — but profitable — industry. Doubtless though, Harrogate was much relieved.

In 1869 the Huddersfield Corporation bought the baths and, after alterations, reopened them to the public on 30th May 1870. They were finally declared redundant in 1945 and sold in 1946 for conversion into an engineering shop.

Historic England Listing

  • Grade II
  • first listed 29 September 1978
  • listing entry numbers 1134412 & 1220283

BATH STREET. Lockwood Former Lockwood Baths. Mid C19. Built to complement the Spa Hotel, Lockwood Road. Ashlar. Pitched slate roof. One storey. Coped gable in centre. Sides have moulded eaves cornice; blocking course. Ends break forward slightly and have 2 Tuscan pilasters each. Centre has tetrastyle Tuscan porch (one column missing), with pediment. Door with 6 moulded panels and semi-circular fanlight.

BATH STREET. Lockwood. Wall and gatepiers to former Lockwood Baths. Mid C19. Dwarf wall; hammer-dressed stone; coped. 5 ashlar piers, panelled, with triangular pediments.


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Notes and References

  1. "Dreams of a spa!" in Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (11/May/1974) by Stanley Chadwick}}.
  2. "Public Notices" in Leeds Mercury (10/Dec/1825).
  3. "Denis Kilcommons: Spa towns" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (24/Jun/2014).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The History of Lockwood and North Crosland (1980) by Brian Clarke
  5. Advertisement in Leeds Times (10/May/1834).
  6. "Lockwood Spa Baths" in Yorkshire Gazette (17/May/1834).
  7. "A Singular Phenomenon" in Leeds Times (02/Aug/1834).
  8. Leeds Times (02/Aug/1845).
  9. Leeds Intelligencer (18/Apr/1846).
  10. Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (24/Apr/1852).
  11. Sporting Life (20/Sep/1865).
  12. For example, see Huddersfield and Holmfirth Examiner (08/May/1852) and (07/May/1853).
  13. Huddersfield & Holmfirth Examiner (07/Feb/1852).
  14. "An American's Opinion of Huddersfield" in Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Sep/1869).
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 At Your Service: One Hundred Years of the Huddersfield Corporation (1968), pages 4-5.
  16. "Huddersfield Town Council" in Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Mar/1870).
  17. Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Oct/1874).
  18. Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Feb/1895).
  19. Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Mar/1881).