Built in 1761 by a local man, John Martin, the Long Rooms were situated opposite the entrance to Simnel Street on West Quay. Martin had previously owned and managed baths on an adjacent site. They were the centre of the town's fashionable entertainment in the spa period, the venue for summer balls and dances. Elegantly furnished, the rooms were designed to attract rich visitors to the spa and there were strict codes of dress and conduct. They consisted of a ball room, card rooms, dining salons, and a billiards room. A bathing establishment was located at the rear of the building.

The rooms suffered from competition from the Royal Gloucester Baths, built on the Platform in the 1820s, and then from the Royal Victoria Assembly Rooms, built on Portland Terrace in 1830. The Long Rooms were refurbished in 1829 in an attempt to stave off competition from the other venues, but their popularity declined nevertheless. They were demolished in the late 19th century.

Long Rooms

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A contemporary print, possibly made in 1829 at the time of a major refurbishment.

Long Rooms

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A view of Western Esplanade and the Long Rooms by Henry Pether (published by T H Skelton), c.1830

See also

Further reading:

Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p16. (HS/h)
Georgian Southampton’, by Elsie Sandell in Collected Essays on Southampton, by J. B. Morgan (ed), p75-76. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, 2nd Series, by ‘Townsman’, p17, 29, 42, 72. (HS/h)
Georgian and Victorian Southampton, by A. J. Brown, p7-8. (HS/h)


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