Replace the Porchester Spa sign with its appropriate and original name: Turkish Baths

Replace the Porchester Spa sign with its appropriate and original name: Turkish Baths

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The Porchester Baths Users Group started this petition to Westminster City Council

What is currently branded as the 'Porchester Spa' was originally called 'Turkish Baths'. Many current users believe that our Baths should return to this original name. Here's the story:

As early as 1870, Richard Metcalfe (a hydropathist) was responsible for urging the adoption of the Baths and Wash-houses Act in Paddington, and championed the installation of Turkish Baths for the working-classes. It took until 1929 for the Turkish Baths to be opened on the current site in the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington. The Porchester Centre houses the last surviving example of a Turkish Bath in London. Today, Westminster City Council (WCC) are the current custodians of the Baths.

In the 1970's (WCC) suggested knocking the entire building down but an outcry from the Paddington Society managed to quash that idea. In 1994 the building was given Grade II listed status; this listing is currently undergoing an amendment assessment to Grade II*.

In recent times, WCC have ceased managing the Baths themselves and have instead passed the Baths from one operator to another. At one stage, the previous operator Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) had the contracts to run the three remaining Turkish Baths in London: York Hall, Ironmonger Row, and the Porchester. York Hall and Ironmonger Row became 'day spas', the intention being that the Porchester would follow suit. To help manage this transition (or more accurately, demise), GLL transferred their 'Spa Manager' from York Hall to the Porchester Turkish Baths to initiate this calamity. Thus, the battle to save the Baths began.

Everyone Active (EA) are the current operators now in favour with WCC and they have been awarded the contract to run the Westminster Leisure facilities for ten years, with an option to extend this for another five years if they so wish.

EA do not have any experience of running an authentic Turkish Bath, and turning the Porchester Turkish Baths into a 'one size fits all day-spa' solves that issue. The users do not wish to see the Porchester Turkish Baths turned into a bland metropolitan spa along the lines of York Hall and Bethnal Green. These are now ghost spas whose communities have been destroyed.

By reclaiming the name Turkish Baths, it more accurately ties into the various social and cultural traditions that are still preserved there today. Schmeissing, the celebrated art of cleansing introduced by Jewish immigrants, is now uniquely practised at only two Bath Houses in the UK; the Porchester and Canning Town.

So, the aim of this petition is to urge WCC to honour the history and authenticity of the Baths, this jewel in the crown that WCC runs on our behalf. Returning to the original name would be a positive first step, a starting point that will hopefully then lead to the Baths being restored to their full glory.

Thank you for your support.

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