The building from the southeast, pictured in September 2013
|Former names||Medina Baths; Hove Baths|
|Address||Kings Esplanade, Hove BN3 2WA|
|Town or city||Brighton and Hove|
|Opened||13 September 1894|
|Owner||David Gilmour and Polly Samson|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||P. B. Chambers|
After falling into disuse it was squatted for several years. During this period Sirus Taghan, the then owner, agreed that the occupants could remain, so long as the property was kept in the same condition as before occupation. It was finally evicted in September 2006, although it was re-occupied for a week at the end of January 2007.
Taghan submitted several applications to demolish the building. However, they were turned down by the council and opposed by local residents. There were fires in May 2013 and December 2014. It was finally demolished under new owners in 2018.
Medina House was built in 1894 as a ladies' turkish bath. An adjacent building housed a ladies' swimming pool, although that has since been demolished. It was built for the Hove Bath and Laundry Company to the design of the architect P. B. Chambers.
As part of Kings Esplanade, it now forms part of the Cliftonville Conservation Area within Hove. Its listing describes it as a "Strange and whimsical building" that "Possesses some charm and character as well as historical significance."
Previously owned by Hove Borough Council, it was at the end tenanted from the 1940s to 1994 by a firm of diamond cutters, Monnickendam, who tried to buy the premises from the Council and were refused. Around the time that Hove Borough Council was merged with Brighton Council to form the Brighton and Hove unitary authority 1997-8, they instead sold it for circa £300,000 to Sirus Taghan.
In 2001, the building was squatted by a group of artists known as the Chalk Circle who used the space for artist development, community workshops and exhibitions. Their aim was to create a 'free space' that the local community could use for whatever they thought most appropriate. Though initially the rent was minimal (£1 per year) this was soon increased to about 20 pounds per squatter per week; in essence a 'peppercorn rent'. Around July 2006 the house became divided into drug abusers and non-drug abusers. Consequently, internal conflicts arose and the small rent ceased to be collected. It was squatted until 2006, when it was evicted owing to complaints about noise and rubbish. The court ordered the eviction. The squatters appealed against the decision but were eventually evicted. City councillors had been campaigning for four years over the problems.
In 2007, the building was briefly re-squatted for about two weeks. One morning, Elijah Smith opened the door to the fire brigade and police who escorted them. The police kicked electric sockets inside the building, causing them to become a fire hazard. Under this pretext the squatters were evicted and a fire prohibition order was then placed on the building.
Following purchase in the late 1990s, Sirus Taghan obtained planning consent for a low-rise small development which would have seen Medina House demolished. Whilst the Royal Doulton-tiled main bath house area was part demolished and the pool filled in with concrete along the way, the consent was allowed to lapse and ideas of putting a tall building on the site have instead proliferated ever since (unsuccessfully).
One idea, for a 'spinning plates' tower, appeared on the front page of the local newspaper, The Argus. A local architect recognised it as having been inspired by a development in Scandinavia. No planning application was submitted to BHCC for this proposal.
Sirus Taghan has wanted to demolish Medina House and build a new tower block. He first put in a planning application for an 18 storey building in 2002, but this was rejected. Subsequently, he planned a smaller tower but never put in a formal application. Taghan's 2006 proposal for Sirus Tower, a 12 storey building which would house 25 flats, also failed to gain planning consent. Taghan claimed that the building is structurally unsound.
In late October 2015 it was announced that Taghan had sold the building.
Following receipt of a letter from Hove MP, Mike Weatherley, in January 2011, Brighton and Hove City Council opened an Enforcement file. A six-months s215 notice was raised in November 2011, a one-month extension granted soon after and the deadline of June 1, 2012 passed without compliance. At the time of writing a 2nd s215 notice was to be raised concerning refuse within the bath area and a letter was to be sent advising the owners of the council's position: prosecution and/or repairs by the council to be recharged to the owners and asking them what their position is.
A fire occurred in the afternoon of Friday 31 May 2013. The cause is unclear. Another fire occurred in the evening of Saturday 20 December 2014. The initial assessment by the fire service was that the cause was arson.
After the fires, view of the surveyors was that Medina House was damaged beyond repair. A plan to erect a new structure which echoes the old one was approved. The Victorian building was demolished in April 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Medina House.|
- Middleton 2003, Vol. 9, pp. 23–26.
- Montagu Evans (May 2012). "Heritage Assessment: Medina House" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
- "Medina House and former Turkish Baths: Conservation Management Plan" (PDF). University of Birmingham. March 2010.
- Squatters are finally evicted, The Argus, 21 October 2006
- Squatters move back into seafront property, The Argus, 23 January 2007
- Seafront squatters evicted, The Argus, 1 February 2007
- Quirky tower plans anger campaigners, The Argus, 16 October 2006, archived from the original on 2 October 2016
- Vowles, Neil. "Developer claims it's 'not viable' to keep historic bath house in Brighton". The Argus. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- "Medina House in Hove on fire". The Argus. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- Kiely, Melita. "Arson not ruled out at historic Medina House baths". The Argus. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Fire takes hold at historic seafront bath house". The Argus. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Vowles, Neil. "Public baths blaze thought to be arson attack". Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- Vowles, Neil (30 October 2015). "Multi-millionaire rock star and author wife are new owners of historic former bath house". The Argus. Newsquest Media (Southern) Ltd. Archived from the original on 30 October 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- Wadsworth, Jo (19 April 2018). "Medina House demolished as Dave Gilmour's plans to rebuild it progress". Brighton and Hove News. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- Middleton, Judy (2003). The Encyclopaedia of Hove & Portslade. Brighton: Brighton & Hove Libraries.