Read in the Bathtub Day (but at your peril)

#HOB2014

thestreetnames

Moorfields Hospital Moorfields Eye Hospital

This day in London’s history: 9 February is, apparently, Read in the Bathtub Day and there is a Bath Street in Clerkenwell, leading to Peerless Street (location of the Moorfields Eye Hospital), which takes its name from a luxury swimming bath that was once a dangerous pond. The name is more of a disguise than an indication of any superlative quality.

The name comes from a spring that overflowed and formed a pond – Perilous Pond – so-called, says London historian John Stow, because “divers youths, by swimming therein, have drowned”. The pond, with its unfortunate propensity for drowning people, was finally closed off.

In 1743, William Kemp, a jeweller, converted the pond to a luxury swimming bath with a well-stocked fish pond next to it. In the winter the pond was used for ice skating. Both were available to visit at the price of one guinea…

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