During the tidal storm of 3rd and 4th January 2014, a breach in the front of the sea wall below the Bathrock shelter revealed the remains of basement walls relating to a historic bath house.
The Marine Baths were built in 1810 by Doctor Rice Williams at the north end of Marine Terrace. By this time salt water bathing had acquired a reputation for curing a wealth of medical ills, and bath-houses were being built for those who did not want to or could not brave the open sea.
Within the bastion of the promenade wall, the remains of basement walls belonging to the Marine Baths have been revealed. Cast-iron pipes ran far out into Cardigan Bay to ensure a supply of clean and sand-free saline water. Basement boilers heated the water for those wanting baths of a less invigorating nature.
Salt-water bathing had been claimed as curative from the late seventeenth century, and bathing huts became a common feature of many resorts by the early nineteenth century.The bath-house offered more privacy, containing a series of private rooms each furnished with a large bath, lined with Dutch tiles and equipped with hot and cold salt water taps. The rooms were also furnished with a fireplace, which in addition to the hot water taps would have made seawater bathing much more acceptable to those of a less robust disposition. The building also offered a cold plunge pool, a shower bath and one of the latest inventions to Britain at the time, a vapour bath.
Water was brought into the basement via an iron pipe which ran out into Cardigan Bay as far as was needed to pipe water from a ‘rocky, sandless portion of the ocean’. A large boiler, capable of holding 500 gallons, heated the water before pumping it to the ground floor baths. On the first floor were a number of guest bedrooms for clients, while a ground floor living room was provided with a bow window allowing advantage to be taken of ‘an expansive view of the sea’.
The baths were later taken over by Lewis Lewis, but closed in 1892 and were subsequently demolished to make way for an extension and improvement of the northern stretch of promenade. The Bathrock shelter was built around 1924.
The Promenade around 1860. The Bath house of 1810 is to the right. The plot to the left of where the promenade extension terminates would be used for the Queen’s Hotel in 1866.
See more images on the RCAHMW site Coflein