Halls Turkish Baths Wellington

Halls turkish baths

Hall’s Turkish Baths ad.

In my evening class on Wellington’s architectural heritage I give the following figures for buildings in Wellington in 1900:

  • 7,478 dwellings
  • 681 combined shops and dwellings
  • 215 shops
  • 97 workshops
  • 80 stables
  • 40 warehouses
  • 57 hotels
  • 36 factories
  • 12 restaurants
  • 6 timber mills
  • 3 schools
  • 2 theatres
  • 1 Turkish Baths

This comes from Geoff Mew and Adrian Humphris’ book, Raupo to Deco: Wellington styles and architects, 1840-1940; Wellington: Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2014.

I was asked if I knew where the Turkish baths were – at that time I didn’t, but a little research has found they were located at 85 Manners Street. Today this address is near the corner of Manners and Cuba Streets but in the early 1900s it was further towards Taranaki Street. This map was made about 1891 – although it doesn’t show the street numbers, the Turkish baths were not far from the Police Station (circled) on the same side of the street.[1]  This is all now part of Te Aro Park.

Ward map for Halls Turkish baths circle



This advertisement appeared in a Guide to New Zealand, the most wonderful Scenic Country in the World, the home of the Maori, the Angler’s and Deerstalker’s Paradise, authored by Charles Baeyertz, published in Dunedin by Mills, Dick, 1906.[2]

Halls Turkish Baths were owned by John W and Mary Hall – they first advertised in the Evening Post in 1892. This, for example, appeared on page 4 on 1 April:

Halls advert 1892

They must have become well known as other nearby businesses would often advertise that they were ‘opposite’ or ‘next to’ Hall’s Turkish Baths. In 1911, when the opera house company acquired the land the Opera House now occupies in Manners Street it was described as being ‘nearly opposite Hall’s Turkish Baths’ (Dominion, 21 October 1911, Page 4).


In 1897 the Halls youngest son Samuel died at his parents residence – the Turkish baths – he was in his 21st year[3]. His father advertised for builders to erect a concrete and plaster vault at Karori cemetery.[4] John Hall died on 22 May 1900. His wife’s name is given as Mary, but according to Wises Directories an Ellen Hall continued to run the baths (she was called Mrs Hall, so I don’t know what relationship she was to John Hall – she was born about 1841 so too old to be his daughter.)[5]

John Hall death 24 May 1900 Star

Star, 24 May 1900

Two other deaths had some connection with Hall’s Turkish Baths. In 1902 it was reported that ‘a Civil Servant takes his own life’.[6] Mr Robert Talbot was the Deputy Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages. It was his habit to go to the Turkish baths and take one. On the day of his death he took a bath – he then went into the cooling room where he asked for a cup of tea and bread and butter. Later in the day he was found dying there as he had taken prussic acid. In 1905 another suicide, George Wallace, shot himself at the Oriental Hotel. He had lived in a room at the Turkish Baths for 11 years.[7]

In 1914 this ad appeared. The address is now 134 Manners Street – I don’t think they had moved, more likely that the street numbering had altered:

Halls turkish baths 1914 ad

Evening Post, 26 March 1914, Page 6

In 1914, the City Council announced a plan to widen the road and the building would be demolished. This report appeared in the Dominion, 5 February 1914, Page 6:


In 1915 the Council approved purchase of the plant and fittings at the baths (Dominion, 19 March 1915, Page 4) – the building had already been acquired in 1914:

Halls Turkish Baths 1915 Dom

However, perhaps the war intervened and the street widening plans were put on hold as this advertisement appeared in 1922!  (Evening Post,  15 September 1922, Page 12). Mrs Ellen Cox Hall died at the Turkish Baths on 8 September 1922, in her 81st year (Evening Post, 8 Sept 1922).



The fact Wellington had a Turkish Baths for a few decades reflects the fact that many private houses did not have a bathroom at this time.


[1] The Thomas Ward map can be accessed on the Wellington City Council’s Archives website: http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/archives/whats-in-the-archives/historic-thomas-ward-maps

[2] Digitised by NZETC; see: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/Stout78-fig-Stout78P009155a.html

[3] Evening Post, Volume LIV, Issue 3, 3 July 1897, Page 6

[4] Evening Post, 23 July 1897, Page 8

[5] Evening Post, 23 May 1901, p. 6 ‘In memoriam’. Ellen Hall was listed in Wises Post Office directories in the early 1900s as the occupier. As his wife’s name was Mary, I’m not sure who Ellen was.

[6] Evening Post, 18 February 1902, Page 6

[7] Evening Post, 19 December 1905, Page 7


2 thoughts on “Halls Turkish Baths Wellington

  1. Thank you for this very interesting article about Hall’s Baths. I had no idea that my 3x great-grandfather owned this establishment. However, I would like to point out an error in the above article. The death of John William Hall is recorded as happening at the baths on 22 May 1900, which is correct, however, his wife is listed as Ellen. This isn’t correct however, as his wife’s name was Mary Hall (nee Alexander). The proof is the death notice for John Hall as found in the Star, Issue 6803, 24 May 1900 on Papers Past. John owned bath houses in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Unfortunately I don’t know who Ellen is, but I suspect she may have been the manager of the female section of the baths.
    I hope this is helpful.
    Kind regards,


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