Ironmonger Row Baths

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Ironmonger Row Baths
Ironmonger row baths.jpg
General information
LocationSt Luke's, Islington, London
Address1–11 Ironmonger Row
Coordinates51°31′36″N 0°05′41″W / 51.526643°N 0.094830°W / 51.526643; -0.094830Coordinates: 51°31′36″N 0°05′41″W / 51.526643°N 0.094830°W / 51.526643; -0.094830
Opened1931 (1931)
ManagementGreenwich Leisure Limited
Design and construction
ArchitectAWS & KMB Cross
DesignationsGrade II Listed
Other information
Facilitiessteam room, hot rooms, massage slabs, plunge pool, launderette

Ironmonger Row Baths were built as a public wash house and later upgraded to a Turkish Bath. They are located at Ironmonger Row, in the St Luke's district, near Old Street, Islington, London.


The baths include a steam room, a Victorian-style Turkish bath[1] comprising a series of three hot rooms of varying temperature, marble slabs for massage and body scrubbing and an icy plunge pool.[2] In addition there are two relaxation areas.[3] The swimming pool is 100 feet (slightly over 30 metres) long. There is a small sauna next to the pool, as well as a well equipped modern gym located within the building. There is also a communal laundry facility (launderette) in the building.

Extensive renovations to the entire building were carried out between May 2010 and December 2012[4]

The facility operates numerous programs, including a branch of the Tom Daley Diving Academy.


The baths were designed by architects AWS & KMB Cross, and built in 1931. They have been managed by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) since the 2012 refurbishment.

From just after the Second World War until the new complex at Crystal Palace was built in the late 60s, the baths were the home of the world-famous Highgate Diving Club, who held their club night there every Friday and also met during the public sessions on Saturday mornings. The Olympic diver, Brian Phelps (Bronze medal – Highboard diving in 1960 Olympics) trained there regularly with his coach, Wally Orner, as did many of the club's international and Olympic divers, such as John Chandler, John Cooze, John Miles, Billy Wood, and Alun Roberts.

It was listed grade II in November 2006 and is located within St. Luke’s Conservation Area.[citation needed]


Year Event
1931 Public Baths. Finsbury Metropolitan Borough Council, Proprietors (Proprs). Turkish Baths planned in the basement
1938 Public Baths. Finsbury Metropolitan Borough Council (Proprs). Extension, including Turkish baths, opened 22 October
1950 During the 1950s and early 60s the facilities included 'slipper baths' where local residents with no home bath or shower could take a hot bath. There was also a communal laundry area with open wash troughs and slabs.
1966 Ironmonger Row Baths. London Borough of Islington (Proprs, following merger of Finsbury and Islington Metropolitan Boroughs). Including Turkish baths
1990 Finsbury Leisure Complex. London Borough of Islington (Proprs). Including newly refurbished Ironmonger Row Turkish baths
2007 A notorious fight scene from director David Cronenberg's film, Eastern Promises, was filmed on a custom set[5] based on the Ironmonger Row Baths, which involved Viggo Mortensen's character fighting Chechen gangsters to the death in the steam room.[6]
2009 £16 million refurbishment plan announced. The work is planned for completion in 2012.[7]
2010 Baths closed for refurbishment in May 2010.
2012 Refurbishment finished

Archival records[edit]

Islington Local History Centre holds plans, photographs and commemorative material related to Ironmonger Row Baths.[8]


  1. ^ "Ironmonger Row Turkish Baths". Victorian Turkish baths. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  2. ^ Oxford, Esther (3 August 1994). "Bath Time: Faded grandeur, a few hours' relaxation and the chance to pick up delicious gossip. Esther Oxford samples the pleasures of Turkish baths for women". The Independent.
  3. ^ Mowbray, Nicole (22 January 2006). "The Escape guide: 50 best spas". The Observer. These baths, in a Thirties building near Old Street, are far from luxurious but retain a charm with their dark wood and velvet-curtained relaxation area. Be sure to have a scrub, carried out with simple soap and a scrubbing brush on a marble slab. There are male- and female-only days.
  4. ^ "Refurbishment of Ironmonger Row Baths". Islington Council. 2008-10-19. Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  5. ^ Per DVD commentary.
  6. ^ French, Philip (28 October 2007). "Film: Grievous bodily harm". The Observer. The film's unforgettable climax sees two knife-wielding Chechen criminals in black leather attacking the naked Nikolai in Ironmonger Row municipal steam baths (renamed Finsbury Public Baths in the film), turning the place into an abattoir as the other bathers run for their lives.
  7. ^ "£16M To Scrub Up Capital's Oldest Turkish Baths". The Evening Standard (London). May 18, 2009. Plans to restore the 71-year-old art deco Ironmonger Row Baths are expected to be approved by Islington on Thursday. The council will contribute £12 million and the Government almost £4 million... It is hoped the work will be completed by 2012.
  8. ^ "Local History Collections". Islington Local History Centre. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 28 Sep 2013.

External links[edit]