Victoria Baths were public baths on Queens Road. Over the years, they had a number of different configurations. They provided salt-water or fresh water baths, baths for swimming or baths for washing or "turkish" baths for cleansing the pores, hot, cold, or tepid baths, individual or shared baths. In their last configuration as Rainbow Rapids in the 1980s, they provided water slides and other plastic ways of enjoying the water. Today, they are a sorry sight of decayed and vandalised buildings, rusted fittings, and the stench of decay
Baths were important in a society where sanitation was primitive, and where disease was rampant. Baths were important in a town which had aspirations as a centre for tourism and for seaside holidays.
In the 1830s, Kingstown was a brand new town. The railway arrived, giving Kingstown a massive advantage in terms of accessability compared with any other town in the British Isles. The harbour and related works were still unfinished, but the town was recognised as one in which there was potential. As a result, builders and developers poured into the area with new proposals for construction of houses, churches, schools and other private and public developments.
Victoria Baths was proposed about the time that Victoria came to the throne in 1838, but did not actually open for business until about 1843. It was a commercial development by John Crostwaithe. The DLRCOCO website states "The original Baths east of the East Pier were constructed in 1843 by John Crostwaite and named the Royal Victoria baths. In 1896 Kingston Urban District Council purchased the baths site. The firm Alexander Fraser was engaged to build the new baths on today’s site. In June 1908 the works were completed and are largely what is in existence today. The baths were improved and extended in the 1930s and were in use in various forms until they were closed in the early 1990s"
In fact, the site of the Crostwaite baths was much further west (i.e. much closer to the East Pier) than the later baths. Much of the original site has been lost due to a realignment of Queens Road which occurred around 1918 or later. Pictures from the Lawrence Collection show that most of the buildings of the earlier Victoria Baths were west of the centre line of the railway bridge, whereas most of the later development of baths was east of that bridge.