BATH AS SPA AND BATH AS SLUM: The Social History of a Victorian City

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This is an intensively researched study that examines the history of Bath and makes a contribution to an understanding of the way urban communities worked. The rhetoric of the city and the slum are both challenged and the interconnections between them examined in detailed case studies. In reality, the municipal politics of Bath, particularly in the field of sanitary provision, was shaped by competing attitudes to the poor of the Avon Street district. This book contains seven color photographs and eight black and white photograhs.


“Graham Davis’s book thus also takes its place amongst studies of local nineteenth municipal politics – showing not so much a unique city learning how to be ordinary, but the ordinariness of city life, in the nineteenth century and in our own times, demanding a dialogue with the city’s uniqueness.” – Patrick O’Sullivan, University of Bradford

“His exploration of the slum is a masterly exercise in historical recovery that tears down many myths and stereotypes. He treats the inhabitants of the Avon Street district with a welcome respect. He has a great deal of interest to say about the Irish living in the city. Moreover, he successfully establishes that Avon Street had its own elite, made up of publicans, shopkeepers and master craftsmen.” – Prof. John Newsinger, Bath Spa University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Maps
Foreword by Patrick O’Sullivan


1. The Genteel Image of Victorian Bath
The Selling Of Victorian Bath
Social Structure
2. The Reputation of the Avon Street District
A Tour of the Avon Street District
The Battleground of Public Health
Inside & Outside Perspectives
Political Symbolism
3. The Social Structure of Avon Street
An Irish Colony & Lodging House District
A Ruling Elite
Education & Social Aspiration


4. Dirt, Disease and Death
Sanitary Provision
Mortality Rates
5. Public Health and Public Relations
The Avon Street Lodging-house Scandal
6. The Wants of Bath

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