Learning & Outreach
Discover Our Heritage from Your Home!
We are very proud of our baths building, which is a beautiful example of Edwardian architecture. But did you know that Govanhill has kept more of its Victorian and Edwardian tenements than any other part of the city? This means that many of our homes are doorways into the past. Read on to learn more and to discover some activities you can try while stuck indoors.
Govanhill Baths has always been known for its beautiful tiles and glazed brickwork. This is one of the glazed brick spittoons, used back in the day by swimmers who chewed tobacco while swimming and needed somewhere to spit. Glazed bricks could be made to any shape, and curved ones were often used in baths to avoid sharp corners. After all, nobody wants a stubbed toe!
Anyone who used the slipper baths in the old building will remember the pink Terrazzo! Did you know that it’s made from concrete and chips of Italian marble, and was a common feature of Edwardian swimming baths?
However, you don’t need to visit the baths to see some amazing tiles. Have a look in your close: are there any colourful tiles there? Tiled closes are called ‘Wally Closes’ in Glasgow slang: ‘Wally’ means anything made from white china. Like the tiles in the baths, wally closes were introduced as a way to improve the cleanliness of flats, helping to protect the health of people who lived in them. Why not try drawing the ones in your close? Then check out Tenement Tiles on Twitter or Instagram which has a range of family activities to try, including tile-rubbing! (Photo credit: Tenement Tiles.)
As well as using these beautiful tiles, Edwardian builders had a clever way of getting around the flats they were working on. Do you have a shelf or cupboard which looks a lot like a doorway? There was originally a passage here which went all theway along the street, allowing the builders to move from flat to flat without ever going outdoors!
Edwardian Home Life: A Recipe
The first users of Govanhill Baths lived through some very uncertain times too: it was the middle of the First World War, and nobody knew when it was going to end. Food was also in short supply, so people had to make do with what they had. Why don’t you have a go at this Edwardian cake recipe? It doesn’t use eggs, which makes it very cheap to make. If you don’t have ground ginger you could use cinnamon or cocoa powder, or simply make a plain cake which you can eat with jam. If you have children why not get them involved, and don’t forget to share a photo of your creation on our Facebook page!
Things you will need
- An oven
- If you don’t have a weighing scales you can use a mug
- A cake tin. If you don’t have one you can use any oven-proof dish or bowl.
- A dessertspoon (the kind you eat cereal with)
- A big bowl
- A cup
- A teaspoon
- 175g/1.5 mugs of self-raising flour (or plain flour and 0.5 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda)
- 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
- 50g/8 dessertspoons of margarine
- A little cooking oil or extra margarine (for greasing the cake tin)
- 50g/0.5 mugs sugar
- About 0.5 mugs water
- 12 dessertspoons of milk
- 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
- 2 teaspoons of vinegar (you can use lemon juice)
- Heat the oven to 190C (gas mark 5).
- Use your fingers to rub some oil around the inside of your cake tin.
- Mix the flour (and baking powder if using) with the ginger in your bowl.
- Use your fingers to mix the margarine with the flour, then add the sugar and milk and stir with your dessertspoon.
- In the cup, mix together the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar using the teaspoon. The mixture will be fizzy: this is how the cake rises without eggs in it!
- Stir this into the cake mixture. Add enough water to make a mixture that is quite sloppy, like thick porridge.
- Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and cook for 20-30 minutes. The time it takes depends on the size of your cake tin. You can check if your cake is done by piercing the top of it with a knife. If the knife comes out clean the cake is done! If not, put the cake back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes and then try again.
- This cake is best eaten warm, so dig in!