BATHS FOR THE POOR.

Among the numerous proposals for promoting the health and comfort of all
classes, especially the working classes, few are more important than the
establishment of public baths, at such rates of charge as to be acceptable
to all, and public wash-houses where the poor may easily and cheaply wash
their clothing without rendering their little houses damp and uncomfortable
by that necessary operation.  The following excellent prospectus has been
forwarded to us from London, and we publish it with pleasure, for it merely
requires the alteration of the names of places to be perfectly applicable to
our case.  We earnestly beg the attention of our readers to the facts and
arguments it contains: -

Pent up by their occupation in the midst of London, a large proportion of
its vast population can only, on rare occasions, find time to go to the
necessary distance to obtain the advantage of a bath, and the comfort of a
clean skin;  and when they do so, their difficulties are not at an end.

They are now prohibited, by penalties, from bathing in the Thames.  The Lea
and the Serpentine-rivers are only open to them at particular hours.  The
warm bath is to them a costly luxury, the price in private establishments
being rarely less than one shilling and sixpence, while few mechanics can
even afford to part with sixpence as often as the bath would do them good;
and it may safely be said, two-thirds of the working classes toil from
childhood to the grave without ever enjoying it.

To procure a warm bath at home, which is never thought of except when
disease makes it necessary, is almost an impossibility.  Under these
circumstances, it is not surprising they scarcely ever indulge in a practice
so essential to health and the full enjoyment of life.

In the one close room in which a poor man's family is frequently found to
live, even if the wife is lying-in, or there are sick or dying persons in
it, the whole of its washing must now be done.  There the fire must be made,
the water boiled, and the clothes washed, dried, and ironed.  It is needless
to dilate the misery which this must occasion;  and it cannot be doubted,
that the habitual dirt of many of the poor is an inevitable necessity
resulting from a choice of evils.

That great benefit will thus be bestowed on the poor, may reasonably be
expected, at the same time that their feeling of independence will not be
interfered with.  They will pay for what they have, though they will pay far
less than the expense of washing at home.  For the price of a pint of beer
they can have a warm bath, and thus insure the greatest amount of
cleanliness which the nature of their daily labour will permit.  For the
price of a glass of gin, they can be saved all the cost of firing,
washing-tubs, irons, ironing-cloths, and the life;  and thus they will
derive a positive pecuniary benefit while making use of the means which will
free them from serious domestic evils.

The poor are dirty, partly in consequence of the nature of their
employments, but chiefly because they can only be cleaner through a
sacrifice of food, or other necessaries, or the poverty of their parents.
That this is the fact must be evident to all who are acquainted with our
collieries.  The miners in coal-pits, although their occupation is one of
the dirtiest, are among the cleanest of our population:  because, in
addition to their wages, they have abundance of coals, and can easily afford
the luxury of hot water.  It is with them almost a universal practice to
change their clothes, and get well washed by the aid of one of their family,
immidiately on returning from the pit.

Let equal facilities be afforded to the labouring population of London, and
it may reasonably be hoped that a similar result will follow;  and, as they
will be enabled by their greater external cleanliness, to avail themselves
of many opportunities afforded by existing institutions, for bettering their
condition, which their dirt now almost precludes their enjoying, they will
progressively rise in the social and moral scale.

In appealing to the inhabitants of London for the means to provide, in a
very essential point, for the comfort and welfare of many thousands of its
hard-working population, and to supply it with those accommodations for
cleanliness which were deemed absolutely indispensible in the cities of
antiquity;  it is felt that liberality and Christian charity may be
confidently relied on, and that a vigorous effort will be made to carry out
a plan which has already stood the test of a judicious trial, and been found
productive of indisputable benefit.
==============================================


LIVERPOOL BATHS.

The Corporation of Liverpool have lately built baths and wash houses for
their poor, and are on the point of building more, the experience of about
two years having satisfied them of the great advantages derived from the use
of their existing establishment.  In Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee,
Paisley, Greenock, Bolton, and Ashton-under-Lyne, the example of Liverpool
is being more or less followed.

The original establishment in Liverpool was small and inconvenient;  but
under all its disadvantages, and notwithstanding its first year was of
course little better than exerimental, the number of baths taken by the poor
was more than 10,500, and the number of articles washed exceeded 231,000.
In the second year the number of baths exceeded 12,600, and the articles
washed 305,000.

During the first year and part of the second, the charge for the baths [the
use of the towel inclusive] was - for a cold bath one penny, and for a warm
bath two pence.  During the latter part of the second year the charges were
raised respectively to two-pence and three-pence.

At the wash houses poor women have the use of washing tubs, with an ample
supply of hot and cold water, the clothes being first boiled to soften the
dirt.  When washed they are rapidly dried in a hot room, and then
conveniences are afforded for ironing them.  The charge at the wash-houses
was originally one penny, but has been lately raised to two-pence for every
six hours' use of a tub.  It is understood that six hours are in general
sufficient for washing the clothes, &c of one family.

In a detached building is a wash-house, for clothes and other articles which
have been used by persons in fever or suffering under infectious disorders.
On the certificate of any medical man, they are washed free from charge to
the poor;  and at an expense of about £10 during the two years, a great
benefit has been thus conferred.  Care is taken to prevent infection by the
use of chlorides, &c.

Detailed returns respecting these baths and wash-houses will be found in the
Appendix to the first Report of the Health of Towns' Commission, page 195,
where it is stated that the annual cost of the establishment is £281 6s;
and that the income of the first year was £159 11s 1d, and of the second
£280 2s 6d;  so that it is now almost self-supporting.  It is now proposed
to carry out in London, on an extensive scale, the plan of which the success
and usefulness has been so fully confirmed.