Legh Street Baths

This page features a history of Legh Street swimming baths and leisure centre.

I am extremely grateful to Phil Delahunty for his memories and technical information on the pools. Phil Delahunty had various roles during his working life at the baths, including the position of lifeguard. In later years he was responsible for all the WBC Leisure Centres, looking after the pool plant, water quality, chemicals, maintenance etc. He was the one responsible for draining all the Legh Street pools for the final time and was the last keyholder for the baths, being the one who was called out for break-ins etc. He has also donated some of his photos for use on mywarrington, which will be featured later. I would also like to thank Albert Hickson for his memories, photos and assistance with compiling the notes. And finally, a word of thanks to Warrington-Worldwide and Warrington Guardian readers who have contributed memories of the baths, which appear at the end of the page.

The first public baths in the town opened on Church Street on 1 May 1851. The foundation stone for Legh Street Baths was laid in 1865 and they opened in 1866. They were originally privately owned by the Warrington Baths Company who went bankrupt. The council purchased them in 1873 and added two extra pools in 1912. This was commemorated in a foundation stone on Legh Street. More on this later…

The baths from Legh Street car park on 4 April 2005.

The baths closed forever on 31 July 2003 and stood empty until the demolition company Anthony O’Connor & Sons Ltd from Salford moved in on Saturday 16 April 2011. They had a contract to clear the site in preparation for the construction of a new health centre.

The image, right, is my mock up photo of the two signs which were positioned on the triangle sections on Legh Street and are each about 6 feet wide. Another “Public Baths” sign was on the section of the building between the two sloping roofs down Bath Street. They were retained and used in the construction of the new health centre (more on this later).

Town’s taste of Olympics in 1948

WARRINGTON had a taste of the Olympics in 1948, when a team of water polo players faced masters Australia in a gripping encounter at Legh Street Baths.

The Warrington and District side included Charles Brand, captain of the Great British team in the London Olympics.

At 32 years old he was also the oldest player to participate for Great Britain in water polo.

The game took place on July 19 and the result went to the national side who won 7-3.

The game had huge interest with all tickets sold out a week earlier.

My thanks to the Warrington Guardian for permission to reproduce the story.


So let’s have a look at the baths in a bit more detail

The baths consisted of four swimming pools, a steam room, laundry, and slipper baths for both ladies and men. The early boilers were typical ships’ boilers (there were two of those) running on heavy oil. Phil recalls spending many a happy hour warming the oil line with a blowlamp in order to get the oil thin and warm enough before the boilers would fire up.

Once we had got over our initial fears you couldn’t get us out of the pool. The boys changed into their swimming trunks on the benches shown here, while the girls enjoyed their own cubicles in the pool next door, which was the Ladies’ Plunge, and later became the Family Pool. Of course, in the early days the baths was also where some people had a bath (second photo above) as they didn’t have the

luxury of a fitted bath in their house (nor a tin bath in front of the fire).And if you think health and safety is something new, then take a closer look at the sign over the bell (third photo, above, right). One thing puzzles me though: how were you supposed to ring the bell if you had fainted? Nowadays you would wrap a cord around your wrist so that if you did slip down you would pull the cord at the same time.

The four pools from 1912 to 2003 were:

Pool Name (on closure)Previous Name(s)Local/colloquial name
Teaching Pool  Boys’ Plunge  / Children’s poolTwo’s  
Family Pool    Ladies’ Plunge  Four’s  
General Pool  Gents’ Plunge  Six’s, Seven’s
Gala PoolMixed PlungeNine’s, Ten’s
The local/colloquial names referred to the admission prices for each pool – Two’s (2 old pence), etc.

The four pools contained a total of over one million litres/264,500 gallons of water between them. Of course, being built in Victorian times they were all imperial sizes, so no 25 metres here. The dimensions of the pools were as follows:

PoolLength m (ft)Width m (ft)Average depth m (ft)Capacity in litres (gallons)
Teaching Pool16.2 (54.0)7.5 (24.5)1.15 (3.75)140,928.79 (31,000)
Family Pool17.8 (58.5)10.7 (35.0)1.25 (4.0)236,396.68 (52,000)
General Pool23.8 (78.0)10.8 (35.5)1.25 (4.0)322,772.39 (71,000)
Gala Pool22.9 (75.0)13.3 (43.5)1.65 (5.5)502,342.95 (110,500)
All dimensions metric (imperial) are approximate, rounded up or down for clarity. The total capacity was 1,202,440.81 litres (264,500 gallons)

Phil personally did all these measurements in the 1990s when he was employed as the Pool Plant Supervisor. Obviously when dealing with pools, chemical additions and water quality etc. it is useful to know the dimensions and capacities.

One lady I met outside the baths informed me that they had dancing competitions in the Gala Pool. Obviously they covered the pool over first – dancing in the deep end would never have caught on! Between the Family Pool/Ladies’ Plunge/Four’s and the General Pool/Seven’s was the location of the baths featured in Albert’s photos further up the page.

The foyer looking towards the ticket office and main entrance.  Rainwater has flooded the area through leaking roof and drains. The kiosk is now a stall in Warrington Market.

The brilliant thing about having four relatively small pools, as opposed to one huge pool – which Widnes went for – is that you could close one, two, or three pools, as they did in the winter, when demand was slack, or for repairs and maintenance. Albert remembers going once, and, finding the Boys’ Plunge closed, had to use the Ladies’ Plunge, with cubicles on one side for males and the other side for females.

All pools used to have a three-tiered diving block at the deep end (similar to a Formula 1 winners rostrum, if you know what I mean).

The Teaching pool also had a diving platform, even though the pool was only about four feet deep at the deepest! These were removed for (in this case, legitimate) health and safety reasons.

The Teaching Pool/Boys’ Plunge/Children’s Pool/Two’s.

This pool was coated with fibreglass added to stem the water leaks through the walls. It looked big when viewed through a child’s eyes, but of course as adults the reality is that it was quite small.

Notice the “NO DIVING” sign. I assume this sign was added after the diving platform was removed.

A view of the Family Pool/Ladies’ Plunge/Four’s. In later years this pool tank was also coated in fibreglass. The original construction is tiled brick. Notice, again,  the “NO DIVING” sign (photo, left) leaning up against the wall.

Another view (bottom) of the Family Pool looking at the shallow end. Note the stainless steel handrail down the steps. Again, another health and safety absurdity only added recently – The place was probably being used for 90 years before these were installed!

The male and female changing areas for the Gala used to be referred to as the Gents and Ladies ‘cage’. This was because they were large open areas (except for just a handful of cubicles in the ladies) with a lockable ‘cage’ room at one end. Swimmers used to get undressed and put their clothes, etc. into a large wire hanging basket which was then handed to an attendant, who worked in the cage. The attendant would hang the basket up on rails and basically secure people’s belongings, in a similar way to how a nightclub cloakroom works.

Phil has witnessed staff diving into the pool from the top tiering! They must have been mad, although there was water in it then. I have this vision of cartoon characters diving into a swimming pool and the villain pulling out the plug for the victim to crash head first into the concrete floor! And what about those guys who dive into paddling pools with only a few inches of water? Crazy or what? Not a case of health and safety, but health and insanity! You don’t believe me? Well, have a look at this You Tube video. mywarrington is not responsible for external websites and advises you NOT to try this at home!

The Gala Pool/Mixed Plunge/Nine’s/Ten’s tiering. Note the shrubbery and greenery growing up and down the walls. The entrance on the left is from the changing rooms. You had to walk through showers (pre cleanse) before you got in the pool (that’s how all pools should still be run). In later years the changing rooms were split to form a gym and dance studio, etc.

During the late 1970s, there used to be ‘Play Pool’ sessions in the summer holidays for the kids. These were in the Gala Pool with rope swings, inflatable rafts etc. Staff used to supervise these sessions and although the rope swings (2 inch thick rope) operated from the top of the tiering, there were (fortunately) very few accidents. That said, as one of the lifeguards, Phil recalls the first time he used one – the knot in the base of the rope swung back into his face and split his lip! Of course, before the sessions started, someone (staff) had to climb across the roof rafters to hang the rope!

I (Gordon) remember people lying inside a large rubber ring with arms and legs outside in those summer playschemes, and then transporting themselves through the water by using their arms and legs to move. This is known as sculling.

General Pool/Gents’ Plunge/Six’s/Seven’s. (The final nail in the coffin.) The scaffolding was erected for a safety inspection, which discovered rotting roof rafters, and left in place as something of a safety net should the roof fall in.

DJKenny had asked if there was something else on the site of the gym on Bath Street previously as he noticed another tiled floor under the current one when it was demolished. Phil says the gym was previously the ladies changing rooms for the Gala Pool, so it is thought the tiled floor was the original flooring.

There was also a small ancillary room (down a couple of steps) next to the gym, which also had its own entrance from Bath Street. This floor was also tiled so this could have been the one spotted. It was to the far right of the front of the building (next to the Drill Hall –

read Peter Spilsbury’s memories of the Drill Hall later). Phil remembers this being used as a boxing club at one stage and then later it had one full-size snooker table in it.

There was a single door to the left of the main entrance (looking from outside). This was known as Bath House, and was indeed a house within the building where the ‘Baths Superintendent’ used to live. A Leisure Department employee and his family were still using it as a house in the late 1970s. At some later stage the house was turned into offices.

Laundry. These steel doors (left) slide out and contain racks. They used to hire out towels for use in the slipper baths. These were later washed and dried in the laundry.

You would load your towels onto the racks, shut the doors and turn on the fan which forces hot air across them. Dries stuff in minutes. Laundry was also taken in from the Infirmary just around the corner in Kendrick Street.

There was a single door to the left of the main entrance (looking from outside). This was known as Bath House, and was indeed a house within the building where the ‘Baths Superintendent’ used to live. A Leisure Department employee and his family were still using it as a house in the late 1970s. At some later stage the house was turned into offices.

Looking down the men’s slipper baths corridor towards the rear of the building (Garven Place). All these doors opened into a slipper bath years ago. More recently they were converted into changing areas for school children/groups. There were, however, two slipper baths in operation right to the end.

The photos were taken on 16 February, 1996 from the top of Legh Street car park.

The car park was demolished in two stages during 2005 and 2006 to make way for the extension of Golden Square shopping centre. The double-decker bus (right) belongs to Maine, who took over the former Barry Cooper coach company. It reminds me of the trips to the baths at my first school (Hamilton Street) when a guy in the class thought he could tip the bus over by leaning on one side as we turned the last corner back to school. Of course, he never did manage it. How are you doing, Keith?

The next ten photos show how the baths looked on 7 March 2003 during its final year of service.

In 2004, former Olympic swimmer Helen Slatter expressed sadness at the closure of the baths. She trained there with the Warriors of Warrington.

The photo, right, shows the logo of the Warriors of Warrington swimming club. It was one of three circular boards about three

feet in diameter and were propped up against the wall behind some other bits the demolition crew had put on one side.

I simply asked them to stand it up against another wall so I could photograph a piece of the town’s history through the security barrier. They were good like that!

In July 2007, plans for a town centre swimming pool were dashed by the Lib Dem-Tory controlled council. It was back in May 2008 that plans were first announced to demolish the baths and build a health centre on the site. The plans were announced again in August 2009 and the council approved them on 28 October 2010.

However, those plans were scrapped by NHS Warrington to plug a budget deficit of £24 million. The plans were later put back on the agenda after consultation with the developers and a new revised plan was put forward in September 2010.

Demolition

The demolition company informed me on 19 April 2011 that the original five-story plan for the whole site would only have three storeys in parts after consultation with residents on Bath Street. It will also be constructed a few metres further away from those residential properties. mywarrington followed the demolition process and also covered the construction of the new health centre. Parts of the old baths decor were incorporated into the health centre.

Have a look at the slideshow on the demolition process.

Some observations during the demolition

Reader Memories

Eric Caddy, Texas USA writes:

The baths were a Victorian wonder. They had three swimming pools [there were actually four pools after 1912], the ‘two’s’, the ‘sixes’ and the ‘ten’s’ – it cost tuppence, sixpence and ten pence respectively for admission. The ‘two’s’ had no facilities at all, just a small bath with a tiled surround. The ‘sixes’ was a larger bath surrounded by changing cubicles. The ‘ten’s’ was the largest bath with tiered ‘bleachers’ and was where the swim meets and water polo was held. For two shillings you could also take a regular bath; an attendant would fill a large wood-lined bath tub and hand you a big white fluffy towel – very handy for the people with no bathrooms. I also remember the dancing at the baths. I spoke to my son last night who lives in Philadelphia. I took him to the swimming classes in the ‘twos’ around 1964, he sank like a stone but about two years later he graduated in that same pool with a gold life saving certificate.

Dizzy, via Warrington-Worldwide Forum, writes:

One of the pools had a temporary maple floor that used to be put over it to change it into a dance hall in the 50’s/60’s (maybe earlier/later too I don’t know). As for the demise and demolition of the baths, it’s very sad and half of me wishes I hadn’t just looked at all your demolition photo’s while the other half of me was glad I did as it brought back some happy childhood memories of the fun we used to have there.

During school holidays one of the pools used to be laden with rope swings from the rafters and other fun things like rafts. You could stand on the seating at the edge of the pool and swing down into the pool. Guess that wouldn’t be allowed these days as thinking about it, it was quite dangerous as one slip and we’d have hit the concrete sides. I must have only been in my early teens then and I could hardly swim. To be allowed in you had to prove you could swim a whole length and I still have no idea how I managed to get from one end to the other, but I remember my cousins distracting the ‘watcher’ a few times so I could grab the side then swim off again as he turned round unaware. I guess the adrenalin of needing to swing from the rafters got me there.

I’m sure I have some of my mum’s very old photo’s somewhere showing the swimming team from there many years ago. She was in the Warriors (50’s/60’s maybe so were they called that years ago) and I’m sure there are some older than her swimming days too. I’ll try and find them out and see if there is any info on the back.

Sorry… I’ve gone into rambling mode there haven’t I? See what your wonderful website and pictures have done to me.

Nabber, via Warrington-Worldwide Forum, writes:

At junior school (St James Latchford) we were taken once a week to the baths for swimming lessons, taught by Mr Anderson, whose wife [Sunny Lowry, Sporting People for her profile] swam the English Channel. She taught the girls. At the end of the lesson we had 5 minutes to get dried and changed, otherwise the bus would not wait for us. After learning to swim I went at weekends with my mates in the large pool. For some reason it was called the tens. There was a café opposite where the multi storey is now and I went in for pop and crisps because it was cheaper than the shop in the baths. Then I went home with wet hair and soggy towel.

Harry Hayes, via Warrington-Worldwide Forum, writes:

My memories will be much the same as the others. Possible exceptions would be the bus loads of trainee policemen from Bruche – in full uniform on entering; and the large crowds who used to watch the water polo team, results reported in the Guardian each week. Did they have wrestling there at one time? (as apart from the Parr Hall). Happy days.

Peter T, via Warrington-Worldwide Forum, replies to Harry:

Yes, Harry. They did have wrestling there. The pool was covered just like for the dances.

From G Berry:

Like Harry, I was also a police recruit, at Bruche in 1964, and once a week my intake would be bussed to the baths for swimming lessons in order to gain the bronze Life Saving Society medal. The swimming was always in the “sevens” with the police women in the intake using the left-hand side changing rooms and the male constables in the right-hand ones. Before joining the Warrington Borough Police Force, my friends, including my future wife, spent many a Saturday night dancing on the wooden floor covering the “tens” pool in the winter time. Happy Days. So sad to see another piece of Warrington’s history destroyed.

Stallard 12, via Warrington-Worldwide Forum, adds, in response to Harry:

Hi Harry, Couple of things, yes they did have wrestling at the Baths and the star was a guy in a Spiderman mask! Don’t know how many times they hyped the show by claiming that he would finally unmask. That tiered seating came in handy. My uncle was a butcher for Joe Arrowsmith (local businessman from Latchford) who did the catering and also made the finest meat pies – I used to get in free with my uncle when he covered it for Joe. I Used to drive a John Hoey (Poplars Taxi) taxi whilst in college and often carried the police recruits (mixed) from the Rope and Anchor back to the training camp – never heard such language !!!! They told me one time that the instructors encouraged it to help the female recruits get over the shock of what they would hear on the street.

This bit from me:

The Spiderman unmasking in the wrestling reminds me of another wrestler, Kendo Nagasaki, on World of Sport every Saturday afternoon in the 70s and 80s. One week they did actually unmask the guy, who wasn’t impressed – or was he just being a good actor? Kent Walton was the commentator in those days. Since then it was part of the act to do it almost every time he appeared. See a video of one unmasking ceremony on You Tube. But don’t let me interrupt the reader from the baths memories!

Before we do, read this great story about the wrestling from Baz via Warrington-Worldwide Forum:

I always remember my dad telling me of the wrestling at the Parr Hall and how one night he went to watch, but had to leave early to catch a train back to camp in North Wales. Just before he had to leave, there was a big commotion in the ring and one of the wrestlers was taken out on a stretcher, with the commentator telling the crowd that he was badly injured and had to be rushed to hospital – gasps all round from the audience… Dad left and whilst stood at Bank Quay waiting for his train, who should he see on the same platform? The wrestler, who wasn’t off to hospital, but had to get out early to catch the last train home!!

I too love the site, Gordon….especially that photo of the blue Corsair at last year’s classic car show!!

Back to the baths… More from Harry Hayes via Warrington-Worldwide Forum:

We were a ‘tin bath in front of the fire’ family – your auntie somehow always called when you were in it. Lots of people took baths (as you would expect) at the baths during and after the war. Did that stop in later years? Was there also a laundry? [Yes there was, and there are now a couple of photos of it further up the page. Gordon.] We used to park our bikes in an opening between the main door and the Drill Hall. In later years it was best to lock them up. For eons the general factotum at the baths was a very cheerful chap, Tommy Jeffers. Always nice and pleasant with us children. Like the Anderson’s, he went with the building.

From an associate of Dizzy via Warrington-Worldwide Forum:

In the mid 80’s I was privileged to be involved in running the canoe club at Warrington’s Leigh Street Baths where we taught children to canoe in the safety of the pools. At the time I was chairman of the committee along with a few police officers and others who’s names sadly escape me at the moment.. I was in my mid twenties at the time.

Once the children were more able, and we knew they could Eskimo roll safely and raft up if they capsized, we took them to Trearddur Bay, Anglesey, for a weekend so they could test their skills and get a feel of real canoeing. I have many a happy memory from our years at the baths.

There also used to be canoe polo matches held at the baths. I remember those very well as I must have been the only person to ever have been ‘sent off’ in a match. Whilst attacking the ball in the water was allowed, intentionally hitting an opponent’s hand with full force across the knuckles with your paddle was not! I blame it on the adrenalin rush.

Sadly there was talk even back then of closure. I, along with many others from the clubs and societies that used the facilities, went as representatives to Warrington Town Hall to try to stop the council closing such a great and well used local amenity. The council didn’t get their way at the time as we successfully stopped the planned closure, although years down the line it seems they finally beat us after all. I seem to remember that at the time Warrington Baths was one of only two (or certainly only a few) baths with four pools under one roof and it is such a shame it has now gone.

From Algy via Warrington-Worldwide Forum:

My most vivid memory of Warrington Baths was of going there with a gang of lads from Latchford where I lived and almost drowning. It was 1948 and I was eight years old, but I had pestered my mum until she allowed me to go with my pals to the baths. As I could not swim, I had received a stern lecture from her about being careful and to promise her I would only go into the shallow end. So kitted out with my knitted wool trunks that went two sizes larger and soggy when entering the water, off we set.

Arriving at the baths we all donned our ‘cossies’ and went into the pool area. Although my memory is hazy with the passing of time, I remember the leading boy climbing up onto a diving board or platform and diving at the deep end. Stupidly, and in the heat of the excitement, I did exactly the same. To this day I can remember struggling to reach the surface and must have grabbed the waist of an older lad’s or man’s trunks, but he must have thought I was fooling about and pushed me away and under. I don’t remember anything else about my under water experience – all I remember is coming round choking on the floor at the side of the pool. Needless to say, I was taken home where I received no sympathy, but a good long lecture from mum and felt very fortunate that dad was at work or I’m sure I would have received a good hiding from him.

The result of this traumatic experience is that to this day I have never learned to swim. I have tried over the years, having been to the baths many times from school and had mates who have been good swimmers that have attempted to teach me, but all have failed. Although that initial experience seems to have prevented me from learning to swim, I have never been afraid of being on or near water. Over the years we have owned a couple of canal boats and in the past I have been a keen fisherman. It has, however, taught me to be extremely careful when being by deep water and the one thing I have made sure of is that both our children are competent swimmers.

From Knock Off Nigel From Moore via Warrington-Worldwide Forum:

So sad it’s gone. I learnt to swim in there.

From Peter Spilsbury via email:

The comments from the ladies you spoke to on the “sixes” and “nines” were in my time referring to the admission prices to visit the baths. The sixes were for the “Gents” (General) pool at sixpence admission and the nines were for the “Gala”, or mixed pool, at nine pence. This eventually became the “tens” – inflation was slower in those days. In the winter the Gala pool was indeed boarded over for dances and the Gents pool became mixed. On the “long” side of this pool were cubicles on each side, one side used by the ladies and the other by the gents. The lifeguards supervised the general behaviour. Next door was the “Drill Hall”, which also held dances at the weekend. Both were very popular. The Drill Hall belonged to the Territorial Army who did their training there. I was also told that the (regular) army band practiced there. The Baths cycle shed was between the Baths and the Drill Hall. As Harry Hayes commented, it was risky leaving your cycle there in later days. One lad had his pedals, saddlebag and cycle pump taken in one visit.

From Richard J. Delahunty Jnr in the USA (Uncle of Phil who supplied the technical info on the baths):

A long way from Warrington now but reading so many comments concerning Leigh St. Baths brought back many memories. I am sure many of us in our declining years will recall that the ‘10’s [Gala Pool/Mixed Plunge] with the addition of the wooden floor, served as an emergency first aid centre for a large part of World War II. Philip Delahunty’s grandfather, Richard J. Delahunty, was in the ARP [Air Raid Precautions] at that time and despite his full time occupation in charge of the Roastery at Walkers Brewery (the inventers of the famous Christmas brew ‘Winny’ after Churchill, of course) spent many a night there as well as fire watching.

It was a place I knew well as a child, not just for the swimming baths but with an in depth knowledge of the exterior also. You see, the managers of the Drill Hall were Mr. & Mrs. Packwood and their son Derek and I were great pals. We would leave the Drill Hall through upstairs windows and clamber all over the roofs, finding our own way of breeching the gap between the baths and the Drill Hall.

As children, those war years held no fear for us and all the military practice that went on at the Drill Hall were just great fun for us, specifically having ‘friends’ who would provide us with mercury(II) fulminate, or Hg(CNO)2 from hand grenades (and yet I am still alive!). Happy days and then scampering home across Bank Park hoping that ‘Daddy Owl’ the park keeper would not catch us for cutting across the park lawns.

From David Knibb:

My main memories of the baths are from taking the whole school (St Johns) there once a year for the annual swimming gala. This was a noisy and frantic occasion, but enjoyed by a majority of staff and pupils. Over the years, it tailed off quite a bit as (mostly) girls would bring notes from home that they couldn’t take part – usually because they didn’t want to be seen in swimming costumes. This was quite the opposite of my experiences as a young lad! On the few occasions we took our own children of a weekend, it was a time for most of our neighbours to get together and have a great time in the water. Sadly, none of the current pools have the same sort of facilities, unless you travel out to Sankey Forum.

From Eddie Newall via Warrington-Worldwide Forum:

Those illicit photos brought back many happy memories. I was a pupil at Richard Fairclough Secondary Modern School (Dickie Flourbags) from 1956 to 1960, and we were taken regularly by bus to the Legh Street Baths for swimming lessons by Mr Anderson. I was mad keen on swimming in my teens, so much so that I had a season ticket. The baths had a workshop where my grandfather Jim Gibbins worked. He was a carpenter by trade and I would go and find him in the workshop after I had been swimming. I knew that area of Warrington well; I was in the army cadets which used the drill hall for training. I spent a year at Warrington Infirmary out of the three years that I did training as a nurse.

From Observer via Warrington-Worldwide Forum:

There was a café opposite the Baths, where we used to get a hot dog on the way home, or we’d call in the old market for stuffing butty.

From E. Berry in the United States:

I love your coverage of the Warrington Baths. I think I spent half of my childhood in that place. In fact I loved swimming so much that I used to cycle to the baths on my lunch break when I worked at The B A ( British Aluminium) at Bank Quay. I earned every badge and medal from the Royal Life Saving Society plus the Austin Pitchford Cup for style swimming plus a teaching certificate – having been taught well by Sunny Anderson!! We also used to do synchronized swimming, which was a lot of fun. When the (big) pool was covered over I would go there to dance. So sorry it has all gone now, but my memories never will!!

From Denise:

The Warrington Lifeguard Corps Club was a great club and it was only a couple of pounds a month to be a member. It was run by volunteers who used one of the pools for most nights of the week, but on a Friday night the club took over all of the pools (and the building). The Teaching Pool was used for non-swimmers (you had to be 8 years old and a non-swimmer to join) and improvers went in the Family Pool. In the General Pool you started to learn life saving skills. The Gala Pool was for the more advanced swimmers doing badges from the bronze, silver and gold and honours lifesaving badges to 1500m distance badges and then, like myself, becoming a voluntary teacher if you wanted to take it further. The Bronze Medallion could be used to get you a job as a paid lifeguard or you could just do the course. You didn’t have to be a member of the club. These days you have to sit an intense ‘National Pool Lifeguard Qualification Course (NPLQ) to get a job as a lifeguard and resit it every 2 years! It was a great social experience and every Christmas they would organize a huge party for the younger children at Parr Hall with games and gifts galore! It’s still going now but very much reduced in size and only on a Friday night at Great Sankey Leisure.

From Andrew Buxton in Canada:

I worked at the baths in 1970 and 1971 after moving from Canada to Chester with my family. I saw an article in a newspaper saying that the baths needed staff so I hitch hiked from Chester to Warrington and talked my way into a job, having been a lifeguard in Canada. As a bath attendant I mostly covered the family pool, since the others were generally in use for lessons. The police all had to go through a basic life saving course at the baths, and Roy Cetta taught schoolchildren eight hours a day in the smallest and oldest pool. I also recall covering for old Jack on his half day and working the private baths (one and sixpence for a bath then). And climbing inside the huge filters to shovel out the sand and pound the residue off the sides every so often. Great memories of the baths and my mates there, so it was a little bittersweet to learn they had been demolished.

Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre

The Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre on Legh Street has been built on the site of the Legh Street baths and opened in December 2012.

In the Warrington Guardian on 26 January 2012 it was reported that the public would have the final say on the name of the new health centre. The choice was between “The Baths Health and Wellbeing Centre” and “Legh Street Health Centre”. They finally settled on Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre, which maintains the name ‘bath’ in the title in tribute to the Victorian baths. The building is now the base for around 20 district nurses as well as providing dental services including special care dentistry, paediatric dentistry, out-of-hours dentistry and minor oral surgery to around 600 patients a month. Garven Place Medical Centre staff have also moved into the new building.

The new building also incorporates the stone work from the original baths, as can be seen in my series of photos here.

Garven Place Medical Centre