Although provision for pithead baths was advocated by Royal Commission mining reports of 1907 and 1919, only around thirty had been constructed in Britain by the late Twenties. The Miners' Welfare Committee (MWC) was formed in 1921 to administer the Miner’s Welfare Fund which was established the previous year; one of its principal objectives being the provision of pithead baths. In 1937 £657,690, two thirds of the total grants from the fund for that year, was allocated to the construction of such buildings. By the end of that year, 208 baths had been completed providing facilities for nearly 275,000 miners, and a further 70 baths were under construction.
The pithead baths (18) at Chatterley Whitfield was constructed in 1936-37 at a cost of £36,000. Prior to its construction there were no washing facilities of any description at Chatterley Whitfield. When built, it was the second largest pithead baths in the country, providing accommodation for over 3,000 men. It opened in January 1938 and was described as 'undoubtedly the finest of their kind in the country'. There were three distinct but inter-connected zones to the first floor: the clean locker area where miners would leave their home clothes, the area containing dirty lockers where pit clothes were stored, and thirdly the shower area. The locker areas are said to have each contained 3,817 lockers, a number of which survive. The ground floor provided offices and laboratories, and also contained a canteen (19) and a medical centre (20). The three-storey tower at the west end of the baths acted as a calorifier (storage vessel with the capacity to generate heat within a mass of stored water) at ground and first floors, and as a plenum chamber (part of the heating and ventilation system) above.
The canteen was extended with a 'feeding centre' circa 1950, though this was subsequently converted to a mine rescue station for disaster management, and a noise laboratory was added at the west end of the complex. Part of the pithead baths complex was used for storage and visitor accommodation during the tenure of the mining museum in the late C20.