Most people in Brighton and Hove did not have hot running water a century ago in their homes.

The only way to have a bath at home was in a tub in front of the fire using water that had been heated on the coals.

No wonder families did not even bother even when they were doing dirty work. No wonder some of them were disparagingly referred to as the great unwashed.

But help was at hand for those who wanted to be clean even if they were poor. Councils were encouraged to provide public baths for them.

They were often known as slipper baths because when towels were draped over the baths to protect the bather’s modesty, they looked very much like slippers.

These baths came in during the late 19th century, particularly in its last decade, and most of them somehow staggered through to the 1960s.

Typical of them was the baths in Livingstone Road, Hove, not far from the railway station. This was in what was generally considered at the time to be a poor area.

The baths were built on the south side of the street in the 1890s after thousands of people signed a petition asking for some to be provided in the neighbourhood.

Even those most destitute could afford to go there. To have a bath cost just one halfpenny in pre-decimal coinage and another halfpenny was requested from bathers wishing to have a towel.

Hundreds of people would enjoy these baths, more men than women because generally they had the dirtier jobs.

There were similar baths at the King Alfred leisure centre when it was opened just before the Second World War.

In Brighton there were also slipper baths, the most prominent of these being at the Aquarium.

But there were also some attached to the public swimming baths at North Road and another set was in Cobden Road, part of the Hanover area.

But the baths I remember best were at Park Street in east Brighten close to Queen’s Park. I had to write a feature on them before they closed in the late 1960s.

Few people were using them by then because old houses had been modernised and new ones invariably contained bathrooms. But Park Street were still an impressive site with huge baths serviced by a vast boiler. There was a lot of copper piping and everything was immaculately clean.

This was thanks to the superintendent, Percy Tyson, who at 77 was of much the same vintage as the baths and well past the council’s retirement age. The baths closed shortly afterwards and Sloane Court was built on the site but as a memento, plaques from the old baths were retained.

At Livingstone Road, a stained glass painting was commissioned showing the baths in full use. There is little other sign left of those old baths which in most cases have been replaced by housing.

Many folk under 50 have no idea of what they were but anyone who used them will never forget the luxury of lying in a huge bath full of piping hot soapy water ready to be wrapped in large white towels on emerging.