Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Jewess’s bath on Trippett Street

Detail from 1853 OS map showing the Public Baths
During my research into Jewish culture I found out that, outside of London, Hull was the first Municipal Authority in England to construct a mikvah for the Jewish community. 

The Trippett baths, designed by David Thorp for Hull Corporation at a cost of £12,00 opened in April 1850 and included an excellent plunge bath, called the ‘Jewess’s bath, intended solely for the use of the ladies of the Hebrew nation.’ 

This plunge bath was situated on the first floor in the first class ladies section but unfortunately no plans exist to illustrate this. Trippett baths closed in 1903 and the building was destroyed during the Second World War.

View showing Trippett Baths (ref C DJC/4/1/20)
There is even earlier evidence of the existence of a mikvah in Hull. One may have existed as early as 1845 when a questionnaire was sent by the Chief Rabbi to all of the communities under his authority to ask if there was a bath in their locality. Hull replied ‘yes’ but unfortunately I am unable to corroborate this with any of our documents. In 1866 some baths opened in George Street, not far from the History Centre, and, from an unspecified date, the communal bath was situated there but these baths closed in 1918.

When Hull Corporation opened East Hull Baths in Oct 1898 it was not long before the Jewish community had a new mikvah. In 1919 Hull Corporation Baths Committee agreed to make alterations to meet the tenets of the Jewish faith. With financial contribution from the Jewish community, a pool that was once used by the nuns at a local nunnery was altered so that the water came directly from the mains rather than through a meter. This made it ritually fit and it remained so until the building was modernised in the 1980’s.

There is more information about Hull's baths and wash houses if you are interested, whilst our next blog will look at what a mikvah is, how they are used and some of the rituals that surround their use.

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