Legh Street Baths

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Why does your auntie always seem to come round when you're sat in the tin bath in front of the fire?

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This page launched Tuesday, 23 August 2011
and was last updated Sunday, 31 May 2015
Don't wait for your ship to come in - swim out to it. Anon.

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

If you have any memories or stories you wish to share, feel free to Email Me.

1948 Olympics at Legh Street Baths    Reader Memories of the Baths    Bath Street Health and Wellbeing 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. There is still time for you to send in further memories. Just click the email link at the top and bottom of each page or click here.

The first public baths in the town opened on Church Street on 1 May 1851 (see a photo of a flyer here). 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...

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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. legh_street_baths_makeup.jpg (93514 bytes)
The photo, above left, shows the baths from the rooftop of Legh Street car park on 4 April 2005. The image, above 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).

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.

Before we continue with the story, it's time for a bit of nostalgia. The following three photos belong to Albert Hickson.

The photos were taken on the 5th and 6th of May, 1984. The first one shows the Teaching Pool (the first to be demolished in 2011) and the one where I learned to swim. After we had timidly walked down the steps in the shallow end for the first time, we were then encouraged to jump in at the deep end, one at a time, while the tallest boy in the senior school stood in the water to help us if we got into difficulty.  legh_street_baths_1984_0505-6_ahickson1.jpg (101707 bytes) legh_street_baths_1984_0505-6_ahickson2.jpg (62801 bytes) legh_street_baths_1984_0505-6_ahickson3.jpg (88066 bytes)
Teaching Pool Bath time Ding Dong Bell

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 Pool   Two’s  
Family Pool     Ladies' Plunge   Four’s  
General Pool   Gents' Plunge   Six’s, Seven’s
Gala Pool Mixed Plunge Nine’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:

All dimensions are metric (imperial), are approximate and rounded up or down for clarity.

Pool

Length m (ft)

Width m (ft)

Average depth m (ft)

Capacity in litres (gallons)

Teaching Pool

16.2 (54.0)

7.5 (24.5)

1.15 (3.75)

140,928.79 (31,000)

Family Pool

17.8 (58.5)

10.7 (35.0)

1.25 (4.0)

236,396.68 (52,000)

General Pool

23.8 (78.0)

10.8 (35.5)

1.25 (4.0)

322,772.39 (71,000)

Gala Pool

22.9 (75.0)

13.3 (43.5)

1.65 (5.5)

502,342.95 (110,500)

 

Total 1,202,440.81 (264,500)

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.
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The foyer looking towards the ticket office and main entrance. As you can see, rainwater has flooded the area through leaking roof and drains.

The ticket office has been saved by Warrington Market. It will be rebuilt and turned into a stall.

How about allowing me to promote the mywarrington website from it the first time it is used? What do you say, Steve?

 

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.

 

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.
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In the Gala pool there were actually two high diving boards, around 3 metres or 10 feet high, again removed for health and safety reasons. The Gala pool was around 6'6" (2 metres) deep at the deep end (diving pools nowadays need to be a minimum of 16' or 5 metres). The one in the Gents' pool was just six blocks, each about a two-foot cube, arranged as a sort of triangle. I wonder if anybody was ever hurt in the 50 years or so they were there?

 

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Two views of the Family Pool/Ladies' Plunge/Four's. In recent 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 (right) 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!
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This next story comes from the Warrington Guardian of 28 June 2012:

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.

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

 

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.

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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.
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.
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. 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! legh_street_baths_pdelahunty_06.jpg (119512 bytes)

 

During these late 1970s summers there were three of the four pools open all day with 40-minute changeovers because it was so busy. A member of staff stood outside the main entrance to get the kids to queue up for the next available session! Phil adds that he has seen the pools so full you could have walked across the water on people’s heads! After 40 minutes – everybody out and let the next lot in from the queue.
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Looking down the corridor towards the fire exit opening onto Legh Street. Doors on the left used to be to the ladies slipper baths - housing sunbed rooms and store room in later years.

I remember our bus from Hamilton Street school (off Battersby Lane) used to stop outside this entrance to drop us off and pick us up again later.
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.
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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.

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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.

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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.
My next two photos were taken on 16 February, 1996 from the top of Legh Street car park.
legh_street_baths_1996_0216_1.jpg (73140 bytes) 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? legh_street_baths_1996_0216_2.jpg (44726 bytes)
The next ten photos show how the baths looked on 7 March 2003 during its final year of service.
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Bath Street. The part of the building to the right of the waste bin in the
second photo was the Bath House where the 'Baths Superintendent' once lived.
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Legh Street
legh_street_baths_110706_1.JPG (108888 bytes) 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, left, shows the logo of the Warriors of Warrington swimming club. It was one of three circular boards about 3 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!
On 4 April 2005, I was on the top of Legh Street car park once more to produce the two panoramic views of the baths seen below, left. This was during the time of Golden Square's extension, hence the bollards on the road. The blue building in the background is Crosfield's soap powder works, although it doesn't go under that name any longer, but will always be known as Crosfields to Warringtonians of old. You can also see Fiddler's Ferry power station in the distance. The third and fourth views show Bath Street from the west and east respectively. They were taken on 14 August 2008.
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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.
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The foundation stone for
the 1912 extension.

 The baths viewed from
Golborne Street on 12 Aug  2003 after they closed.

Demolition begins. My first visit was on 19 April 2011. Bath Street sign hangs on... for now The main entrance viewed through the safety fencing.
The developers 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.
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The circular stonework in the third image was originally a window, as
viewed from the opposite side now the wall has been removed (image 4).
On 1 July 2011 new road bollards were put in place to allow demolition work proper to begin on 4 July 2011, when edging stones were carefully removed, as seen in the series of photos below. The contractor told me the swimming pool floors will not be demolished - they are of such good quality that they will fill the space with concrete and spoil and use them as foundations for parts of the new health centre. The materials from the demolition will be recycled and some of it will be used in the new construction.
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In conversation with the contractors they informed me the 1912 foundation stone on Legh Street is not on the list of things to save. I emailed the council about it and I have since been informed by Anthony O'Connor & Sons Ltd that they have donated it back to the council, which I am pleased about. Let's hope it is used with respect somewhere in the town centre.

So now let's have a look at the demolition work, starting with the chimney. Everybody wondered how they were going to do it. You couldn't blow it up with dynamite as it was too close to the houses. And Fred Dibnah is no longer with us, so they couldn't use his method, which was to remove a small section of bricks and prop up the gap with wood, such as railway sleepers. As more bricks were removed, more wood was used to prop up the chimney. When sufficient bricks had been removed, Fred would light a fire around the props. The props would burn, and the chimney would collapse.

So, it's Tuesday 12 July 2011 and the chimney is held together with metal bands all the way up. They started at the top to break apart the metal bands and took it down a few bricks at a time until they reached the bottom. But it wasn't straightforward. The metal bands were tight around the chimney and when they pulled at the metal the chimney wobbled, so the demolition crew took it easy. In the end they had to snap the metal first, making it easier to knock down the brickwork. The task attracted a large group of spectators, including a group of school children who happened to be passing along Bath Street at just the right time. In total, it took a couple of hours to complete the job.

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British jobs for British workers, Mr Brown? Well in this case, yes.

The workers in question are from Galliford Try and Anthony O'Connor & Sons Ltd.

legh_street_baths_110715.JPG (43289 bytes)  Without them the next set of photos would not have been possible. Due to health and safety rules, I wasn't allowed on site, so during a quiet moment they kindly took the photos for me. The one on the right is the Gala Pool where all the swimming competitions were held. I created the panoramic view from the ones taken on 8 July 2011. The flag, left, is flying from the Town Hall roof on 15 July 2011, taken by me from Legh Street. legh_street_baths_110708_2.jpg (129567 bytes)
The three main photos below show the remains of the Ladies' Plunge pool (also known as the Four's and later the Family Pool) on the Legh Street side. The fourth image is my panoramic creation of all three photos, which took quite some time to get right, although it isn't perfect due to the original angles of the three individual viewpoints. They were taken on 12 July 2011.
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The next two photos, below, belong to DJKenny, a friend of mine. They were taken onsite on his behalf on 18 July 2011. Before we go into the photos, let's give Kenny a plug. He has his own website www.djkennylive.me.uk with photos of Warrington. He is called DJKenny because he has his own show on Radio Warrington, the online radio station broadcasting from Cinnamon Brow Farm Community Centre in north-east Warrington. His shows are on a Tuesday between 8 and 10 p.m. and Saturday from 8 till 10 p.m. You can email him live while he is broadcasting. If you do email him, mention Gordon at mywarrington.
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The photo, left, is taken from inside the gym, which was located to the right of the reception area on Bath Street. The photo, right, is the deep end of the Gala Pool. Notice the commode chair - I can't think of any logical reason for it being there so it must have been thrown in after it was drained. Either that, or somebody is stuck down the drains... One of my personal memories of the Gala Pool is from the annual school swimming competitions in senior school.

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I wasn't a brilliant swimmer, but I had a go at the 100 metres (2 lengths) front crawl/freestyle and was in the inside lane. I wasn't confident at diving in (I always seemed to perform a belly flop), so I just jumped into the water on the starting whistle and was soon left behind by the more powerful swimmers who gained a few metres from their dive. On returning to the start after my second length I was congratulated by the teacher for achieving the swim, albeit in last place. It was my one and only attempt at the swimming competition.

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Back to the modern times. In early July 2011, demolition of the gym and offices began. On 14 July 2011 they started to work on the west end of the gym (middle photo), but due to the proximity to the council office next door, the work was started by hand, one brick at a time.
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12 July 2011 General view from
Legh Street 13 July 2011
14 July 2011 Smileyman and Smileyman Not!
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The message on the door, left, is from Golden Gates Leisure, the council department responsible for the baths in its later years. It says "Our aim is to maintain the highest standards at all times. This area is checked on a regular basis and cleaned when necessary. Should this area fall below this standard, please report it to a member of staff immediately".

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12 July 2011 Nobody unplugged the telly before going to
bed in 2003
Bath Street 19 July 2011
Time for a smile. The first photo here shows two of the cartoon characters painted on the Teaching Pool wall. They were originally some distance apart so I put the frog and duck together in the same view, with a mirror on the wall. The second is a fire safety message blowing in the wind. And if you do have a fire, use the stand pipe in the street. This was used to spray water to keep the dust down. Notice the water meter on the pipe.
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The image below, left, is one of the old windows which has been taken away to be restored and reused. The photo in the centre, is my first souvenir of Legh Street Baths - a child's T-shirt. I saw a recent episode of Flog It! on BBC2 and a scruffy, battered toy of Muffin the Mule from the classic TV show went for £40. Wonder how much my T-shirt will go for in years to come? Probably 40p (as much as that?). The photo on the right is of me holding a better souvenir - a plaque from 9 April 1994 when Adrian Moorhouse MBE opened a new gym at the baths. The gym was part of a £60,000 refurbishment of the leisure centre. The photo was featured in the printed edition of the Warrington Guardian on 18 August 2011 and also appears in my Legh Street memories thread on Warrington Worldwide. Copyright for the photo belongs to me. I also have a brick or two from the demolition.
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Photos taken between 12 and 14 July 2011
 

It is now 20 July 2011 and the gym has been demolished (first image below, left). The second image shows a couple of keep fit exercise charts  for the arms and chest on the gym wall. The third image shows the beginnings of the demolition of the west end of the Gala Pool (the east end wall has already been removed). As with the gym, it is close to the council building next door at the Town Hall annexe, so careful removal of bricks and wood was undertaken by hand.
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Meanwhile, back on Legh Street it is time to begin demolishing the roof of the Ladies' Plunge pool (first photo below, left). The middle photo shows the removal of the part of the roof closest to Legh Street. Safety was the main concern here, as you will notice from the dust blowing into the road. But everything was okay as all traffic on Legh Street was stopped in both directions, and we were quite some distance away. The roof was removed without incident. The third photo shows where the crew had got to by the end of the day.
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So now we move on to Thursday 21 July 2011. The next six images show sections of the demolished Ladies' Plunge. The first image in the first row shows the scene from alongside Golden Square on Legh Street. Remains of the pool can be seen in the second photo, with a close-up of the changing cubicles in the third.
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My personal memory of that pool was from senior school when the boys shares cubicles for changing. The boy in with me accidentally put his arm through a small hole in the cubicle curtain and made it bigger. He thought that was funny so he deliberately did it again and again and again saying "Sorry about that!" to the curtain, until he got the shock of his life when he saw the teacher's face over the door to tell him off. The blood drained from his face as he tried to make the excuse it was an accident. Teacher told him the first time might have been an accident, but the next three definitely were not! For the record, it was one of the cubicles on the opposite to the ones in view here. I'll save my memory of the General Pool for when they get round to demolishing it!
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The first photo above, left, shows the south-west corner of the Ladies' Plunge pool. The building behind is Garven Place medical centre and dentist. Once the baths demolition is completed, construction of the new medical centre will begin. I remember going in there to have treatment for my verruca as a primary school pupil. I eventually had it removed at the Infirmary on Kendrick Street, now the site of the court buildings on the northern section of Legh Street. The second photo, above, is a health and safety notice. It says no back diving, acrobatics, spitting, bombing, ducking, throwing, smoking, pushing, shouting or running. Apart from that, have a nice day! The third and final photo of this section looks like a 'ladies only' section. How do I know? Well that machine on the wall issues something from a certain company called Tampax. Moving swiftly on...
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On the left is another of my souvenirs: a brick from the site. Well, they're only going to crush all the bricks and stones for reuse on the site.

I didn't steal it, by the way - I did ask for it! Perhaps I should have asked for a lorry load to build myself a swimming pool in my back garden.

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 On the subject of stones, I had a suggestion for the council: why not add the 1912 foundation stone to the new build when it opens in 2012 and commemorate the centenary of the opening of the baths extension that has now been demolished? It didn't happen...

The photo above, right, was supplied by a great guy, Dave, who was also photographing and videoing the demolition. He asked the crew to reassemble the Warrington stones from the Legh Street side of the baths so he could photograph them. All his photos are on film using a good old Praktica camera, the type I used at school to start my interest in photography. Mind you, I couldn't afford to take all the photos of the demolition on film - I had taken precisely 2,736 to this point on digital cameras. Imagine how much that would cost to print out from film. Well let's work it out: 36 images per film @ £8.50 a time for two sets of prints would have cost me £646 from one famous supplier! And we hadn't finished with the demolition at that point. In total I took over 5,500 photos and my bill would have been over £1300. Thank goodness for the work of William Boyle and George E. Smith at AT&T Bell Labs in 1969. Who were they, you might ask? Well their invention of the charge-coupled device (CCD) was a major step forward in digital photography. What is a CCD you might ask? Well it's a...oh read it for yourself here!

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Meanwhile, the three photos, above, were taken by Dave on Friday morning, 21 July 2011. They show the demolition of the Ladies' Plunge pool roof. By the time I arrived at the site, having burned the candle at both ends editing the photos from the previous few days, it was completely demolished. It was a good job Dave was around. Thanks, Dave! While I got souvenirs of the baths, Dave also got himself a little something - part of a drain pipe. The six photos below were taken by Dave on 20 July 2011.
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The two photos, below, show the whole site from the south, taken three days apart on 18 and 21 July 2011. By the way, you will of course have noted by now that the swimming pools have been emptied of their water, so you might ask how can I still refer to them as 'pools', but I'm sure you know what I mean...
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On Friday 22 July 2011, I took myself back to Golden Square shopping centre management office to ask for permission to go on top of their car park to photograph the site (regular readers will be familiar with my photos on the Golden Square page). They gave me a visitor pass and up to the gods I went. I'd forgotten what is was like on top of the car park and suddenly realised it doesn't go to the edge of Legh Street like the original car park did, so I had to use the zoom lens to get closer.
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Anyway, the panoramic shot above, left, shows the whole site. In the distance, in blue, is Crosfields soap works (it has a new name these days, Ineos Silicas). Also in view is Fiddler's Ferry power station at Cuerdley. The second photo is a close-up of the Gala Pool. In the far left corner of the photo is a very long set of steps into the former pool. As a child I thought I was going on a voyage to the bottom of the sea when walking down there. I soon retreated to the shallow end! Almost back on the ground now, but first let's take a look at the latest view from the north (third image).

The next two images are panoramic views of the site on 22 July 2011, first from Legh Street looking to the north-west and then the view from Bath Street looking south-west.

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The next eight photos show the room where the pool water filtration tanks were housed. There were four tanks which were filled with stones and sand. The water flowed through the filter from top to bottom 24/7/365 and the sand trapped the impurities (solids) and the water flowed out clean/clear at the bottom. From there the water returned to the pool after first being adjusted for chlorine (automatic addition as required) and Ph levels and heated.
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Photos taken 22 July 2011

The first photo, above, left, is a general view of the building before demolition. Then it's time to raze the roof, first on the west side (second image), then on the east (third image). When removing the roof on the Legh Street side, traffic was once again stopped in both directions to prevent any accidents. There were no problems. The fourth image shows the view towards the tank room at 5.22 p.m.
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Photos taken 22-25 July 2011

It is now the end of the week. And what do you get at the end of the week? A weekend! But it isn't two days off at Legh Street, for the demolition crew or for us photographers! The first photo, above, left, shows a flowmeter (part-hidden behind the pipe) which indicates the amount of pool water flowing through the filters in gallons per hour. The second photo shows the view towards the tank room from Legh Street. The third photo is a notice to prompt the operator to arrange a delivery of CO2 if they switch to the back-up tank. Carbon Dioxide is used to adjust the Ph levels of the water. Notice I have masked the company name and phone number? I'm not daft: nobody is holding me responsible for a joker who tries to arrange a delivery to a non-existent baths! The fourth photo is one of the filtration tanks, which was still full of sand. To the right of the tank is the sign for the deep end of the Ladies' Plunge, with a bit of the pool wall in view.
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I'll bring Saturday 23 July 2011 to a close now with these six photos (below). First we see the sign for the deep end of the Ladies' Plunge pool, followed by the opposite view from Legh Street, and the remains of the pool in the view from the north in the third. Next follows the first of my urban art shots (or is that criminal vandalism?) (second row). I am talking about the graffiti on the side of the Gala Pool. Somebody entered the building just to say "I was here". The fifth photo is one of my favourites from the whole series. It was a very hot day (I burned my neck that day with the sun beating down from the south-west). The sky was a perfect shade of blue with lots of fluffy clouds so I decide to make a portrait-orientated panorama of the site and the sky. If you fancy some boxing practice you can take the punch bag in the sixth photo.
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To the west of the tank room was an office area. This was demolished on Sunday, 24 July 2011. The following photos show the demolition, with a bit of commentary from me.
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How it looked the day before. Seems a shame to destroy this building. Wonder what they will find inside? The guys from Anthony O'Connor & Sons Ltd get to work. They have over 30 years of experience in the excavation, haulage and demolition industry, so if you need a demolition job doing well, get in touch with their office. They both entertained and informed us as they went about their business in a professional manner, keeping us safe at all times. From a distance...with permission from the owners of the former Warrington A1 nightclub, who opened up again on 20 August 2011.
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Walls Come Tumbling Down. Do you know the name of the group who had a hit with that song in 1985? The answer is The Style Council (1983 to 1989). Who was the lead singer? Paul Weller. When asked what he did for a living he said "I work for the Council" (honest!).

The song got to number 6 in the charts. His first group was The Jam (1976-1982). 
Here we see a fridge, microwave, telephone, desk, filing cabinets and, now the roof has gone, a red bucket to catch the water if it rains! They've been there for nine years, and no Kenny, I am not opening that fridge door, not even with a mask and goggles! Later it was all gone - just a chair, with the view of Legh Street and Golden Square to consider. Later still, and now the
chair has been taken away. Indeed, the whole building has gone. But those filtration tanks have made an appearance again.
At the same time, the Gala Pool was being prepared for its fate with the jaws of death.
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On Saturday 23 July 2011 the old seating around the pool was partly removed (left). At 2.37 p.m. on Sunday 24 July 2011, the high reach excavator began to work on the remains of the Gala Pool roof (right).

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There was precisely one hour between the first and third images below, starting at 2.50 p.m.
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The honour of photographing the last shots of the roof of the Gala coming down goes to DJ Kenny who captured the five shots below. I tossed a coin to see who would get the privilege of displaying their photos of that event and he won. Actually that isn't what happened! Read what really happened below the photos.
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Kenny was in position on Bath Street and I was on my way round there, still on Legh Street, but I got distracted by a passer-by who began a conversation about the baths and old Warrington, so I stopped to promote the website by giving him a card and describing what he can find on the website.
At this point I happened to look towards the Gala to see the final bit of the roof come down, with no camera ready. So I missed it...and Kenny nearly missed it too. He told me after that he had used all the memory up on his camera - but, as he put it, "I've always got a back-up".

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He swiftly took out his camera phone and switched it to continuous mode to capture the shots. If I had been ready with my camera on Legh Street I would have captured the best shot because I was looking straight on. The shot, left, is the view I had from the road after the dust had settled.
Almost time to shut up shop for Sunday, but here are some shots to finish off the day. The first is another urban art/graffiti/vandalism shot, this time looking inside the old office on the south side of the site. I'll let you make your own mind up on whether you think it is art or vandalism. The next two are panoramas of the whole site, first from the ground on Legh Street looking north and west, and then from higher up looking north.
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The first of the next batch, below, is my goodbye shot of the General Pool (Seven's) in the south-west corner, showing the changing cubicles and what remains of the pool area. Once again, I am grateful to the demolition crew for assistance with that photo. I am also pleased with the content of the second and third shots. The crew made a special point of telling me they had carefully rescued the 1912 foundation stone. I really hope this is displayed in the town centre for all future generations to appreciate. In the early days of the demolition work one member of the crew thought there might be a time capsule behind the stone, but as the wall surrounding it came down, it became clear there was nothing there. It would have been nice if there was.
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I haven't forgotten the fourth photo. It doesn't look much (and it isn't really) but there is a story. It was taken a short while after the office building had been demolished. A piece of wood suddenly appeared where it lies in the photo and the two of us (Kenny and I) nearly jumped out of our skin because we couldn't work out where it had come from. We were looking round to see if anybody behind us on Legh Street was playing a trick on us, but there was nobody there. Spooky! We came to the conclusion that it must have been standing up against the fence next to the blue sign and, because we hadn't seen it, the wind must have blown it over.
Just before I wrap up for today, I'll let you know that I sacrificed a Rugby League Challenge Cup quarter-final match on TV between Hull FC and Leeds Rhinos to take the photos on the Sunday. I might have been better sacrificing the match the day before when Wigan slaughtered Warrington Wolves 44-24 to end their hopes of a hat-trick of Cup Final victories in the competition. Warrington were so confident after their previous achievements that they paid for this advert on a bill board on Winwick Road. The only ones eating any kind of pie after that performance were Warrington Wolves - humble pie! If we were in Yorkshire I'd have called them puddings!  warrington_wolves_advert_challenge_cup_110723.JPG (95193 bytes)

And so we reach Monday, 25 July 2011. On site it was a tidy-up day. One half of the crew continued to clear out the Gala Pool for recycling, while another worker was taking slates off the General Pool roof. Not much for us to see, so I walked around the outside of the site to see what I could spot in the rubble through the fence. I don't know what soup of the day was because the pan and lid have tipped over (below). And it looks like somebody has run off with the red pan and left the lid. The wooden shelf must have come out of the cleaning store because the labels on the edges, which I have superimposed over the photo, say 'floor pads' and 'brush head'. The fourth image shows the guide sheet to a storage heater, which was next to the office demolished on Sunday.
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The first photo below, left, is part of an advertising campaign for some of the various fitness and sports centres around the town. These include Fordton Leisure Centre at Orford (which closed when the facilities moved into the new Orford Park Project in 2012), Birchwood Leisure and Tennis Centre and Broomfields Leisure Centre in Appleton. The second photo shows a fire alarm bell in the only pool still standing, the General/Seven's pool, due to be demolished on 27 July 2011. The third photo shows one of the cubicles in the same pool and illustrates the story from earlier about my school classmate who put his hand through the curtain in the Family Pool when getting dressed.
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The last two photos for today (below) show the whole site from the viewing point behind Warrington A1 nightclub. The second photo shows the site from the entrance to Golden Square shopping centre opposite Warrington A1, which now houses a Polish food shop on the ground floor. I will tell you a bit more about the building in a short while. In a few days time blue boards will be erected around the baths site as building work gets underway.
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On Tuesday 26 July 2011, it was the same procedure as the day before, tidy-up and slate clearance, so again I had a wander round the perimeter fencing to produce the following three photos. The first image in the top row shows the roof of the General/Seven's pool where they are removing slates for recycling. The chimney is on the council building next door and shows just how close it is to the baths building. The second photo shows one of the windows on the outside wall of the pool. The third view shows Garven Place medical centre from Bath Street, a view never possible until now. Garven Place wasn't here when the baths were built. You'll see the date it was built later on.
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In the first photo below, left, we see the scene from Legh Street looking towards Bath Street. Notice the filtration tanks in the former Ladies' Plunge pool. I suppose they should have names, so I'll call them Freeman, Hardy and Willis! The middle photo shows the former Warrington A1 nightclub, which was being renovated for its new opening on 20 August 2011. The viewing platform was my location for the photos in the third image. The top half of the photo is the view from the top of the platform, with the lower section producing the one at the bottom. Thanks to the nightclub owners for permission to be up there, which came in very useful on Sunday when a community police officer came round asking me what I was doing.
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It is now Wednesday 27 July 2011, and as promised, a little bit more on the former Warrington A1 nightclub building. It dates back to 1884 and was originally an auction house. The occupiers were preparing the building for reopening night on 20 August 2011 and wanted a new name for the nightclub. When they took the boards off the building from its previous use, it revealed the beautiful black and white arch decor over the door (second photo below) and decided to name it after what they found. So Osale Rooms it will be. I have seen a photograph of the building from September 1975 which shows it was used as Pennywise Discount Clothing, with the shop sign over the black and white archway we see here. It's a good job I don't have copyright clearance for the photo because it looks awful - thank goodness Osale Rooms decided to revert back to the original structure.

 

The Osale Rooms is no longer operating. In April 2013 Warrington Borough Council gave permission for a new nightclub to be opened in the building. Delicious will feature lap dancing and strip shows.
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The Osale Rooms nightclub launched on 20 August 2011.

The next three photos show the current state of the former Ladies' Plunge/Family Pool. In the first image you can see Garvin Place medical centre. This was later demolished for car parking spaces.
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I don't know, you see two Anthony O'Connor & Sons Ltd trucks on Legh Street, turn your back then there are three, and then four. It's like buses - nothing, then three at once (below). The guys were delivering spoil to fill the empty spaces left by the swimming pools, but they arrived at lunchtime with nobody on site to let them in. The rules say that all trucks reversing onto or driving away from the site must have a banksman, i.e. a guide to ensure safety. And this was the only place to park the vehicles near the site. Everybody was on the lookout for the Parking Attendant (Traffic Warden if you like). Actually, those attendants were walking round the site all the time and got to know the demolition workers quite well.
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I got some very puzzled looks when the trucks first arrived because once the drivers were out of their cabs I began to take the first three photographs above. But they were happy when I revealed that I edit the mywarrington website and their boss was fully aware of what I was doing. In fact, the boss was delighted to see a link to the company website on here. I got lucky with the photo of the three buses in the fourth photo - but they didn't show up until 26 hours later on the Thursday!

The trucks served a dual-purpose - delivering recycled spoil from a previous demolition to Legh Street and removing waste from this site for processing and subsequent use on a future site. Recycling is not just an emotive issue in the 21st century, it is also a good way to reduce the cost of new materials for construction. Notice the tree growing out of the brickwork of the Gala Pool in the fifth photo, below, right. I wonder which recycling bin that went in. Actually, I do know, but I'm not telling!

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Let's finish off Wednesday 27 July 2011 with a last look around the site. The first image, below, left, shows the remains of the Gala Pool from Legh Street.
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The second photo, above, was taken from Boots Corner. Regular readers of the website will know where that is, but for those that don't, Boots Corner is the name I have given to the south-east section of Golden Square shopping centre on Legh Street. Why? Because this is where Boots the Chemist relocated to in the extended Golden Square after they moved from Bridge Street. In the olden days Boots was located on the corner of Sankey Street and Bridge Street and the area became known as Boots Corner by locals because, for one, it was where many met up with their sweethearts for that first night on the town together. Can you remember that first meeting with your partner at Boots Corner? Why not share your memories of life in the town on the Memory Lane page?

The third and fourth photos show the General Pool as it is prepared for its final day in existence - it is being demolished tomorrow. And the fifth photo - what do you see? Yes, it is a group of four bricks. But look closer at the black bit. What do you see now? Do you see a face? You do? Of course, it is just one of those random patterns we often see, so don't panic, it's not the end of the world! The bricks here have been turned on their end by the demolition. It was DJKenny who first spotted this pattern.

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And now it's Thursday, 28 July 2011. Today the final pool building is coming down, but let's build up to it with these images. The first, below, left, is a noticeboard for the Golden Gates Leisure Warrington Swim Scheme, which received an Award for Excellence Charter Mark and also an accreditation for Investors in People. The second photo is my latest batch of souvenirs: a section of a tile from the General Pool, a curtain from one of the pool's changing cubicles (the beige sheet the tile is lying on) and both sides of a float. The floats were all white in my day, but in more recent times they came in allsorts of colours emblazoned with logos, in this case Speedo on the blue side and Penguin biscuits on the red. And yes, that is real water they are floating on, but not from the baths - it is from my own personal 'swimming pool' in my back garden. No begging letters, please - I HAVEN'T won the Lottery - the pool in question is the result of a leaking pipe which I was waiting to get fixed at the time. But enough said on that... Anyway, I didn't keep the float - having carried it home in a sealed bag, I destroyed it on health and safety grounds after the photos were taken - one verruca in my lifetime is quite enough, thank you very much! More urban art/vandalism in the third photo.
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We are nothing but resourceful at the Legh Street Baths site and have everything we need, including the kitchen sink (fourth photo). Actually it isn't from the baths - somebody hurled it over the fence one night when they weren't looking. Not sure if the plug in the fifth photo is part of it, but I spotted that on the north side of the site. It did fit the security fence post holder quite neatly, though.

And so it's time to destroy the final swimming pool. We were told the day before that it would be coming down on Thursday after lunch. Well, before the roof came off they had to separate the building from the back wall because part of it was shared with the Council building behind it. That was painfully slow for us watching as each brick come down one at a time by hand, but essential for safety reasons. The first photo was taken at 11.20 a.m. At 12.21 p.m. we were getting ready for lunch and were about to walk away from the site when we noticed the excavator making its approach to the front wall of the pool. It happened so fast that all four of us photographers missed the main bit coming down. I only caught the shot in the second photo before moving to what I thought would be a better position. By the time I got round the corner the wall was down. Nevertheless, we could now see into the pool when returning to Legh Street (third photo).

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The next two photos, below, left, show my zoomed-in shots from that same position on Legh Street. More urban art/vandalism to greet us. Not a bad view of the cubicles though, if I may say so myself! From my viewing platform at Osale Rooms, I wondered what was written on the bunting, so I zoomed in to take the third shot. It turned out to have Speedo on it and but one of the demolition men gave it me as a souvenir. I still have it and I'll keep it - until I don't need it anymore... The fourth images was taken later in the day, again from Osale Rooms.
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The scene, below, first photo, shows an excavator removing piping that was part of the filtration system around the General Pool. Each pool had inlets and outlets, which were generally of 9-inch diameter cast pipework, running to and from the four filters in the filter house. The ducts around the underneath of the pools were full of both heating pipes and pool circulation pipes. The one here is a pool circulation pipe. Once the piping was removed they filled in the pit (third photo). My freeze-frame shot of that looks a little strange, but that is exactly what the camera saw as part of a high speed sequence.
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Okay, it is now 3.56 p.m. on Thursday, 28 July 2011. Lunch time is now well and truly over and it's time to take the roof off. The first photo, below, left, is the very moment when demolition began, quickly followed fifteen seconds later by a wide angle shot of the same scene in the second photo. In the third photo we see the orange and yellow excavators from O'Connor's working in unison on the General Pool roof. Readers familiar with the Golden Square page will know I had names for the excavators: Crusher, aka DinoSaur Machine, and Big Daddy. Well, I never told you the names of the two working at Legh Street Baths. So, ladies and gentlemen: allow me to present to you, Desmond and Thomas, the O'Connor brothers!
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The fourth photo looks quite dramatic with lots of the roof caving in. But that is nothing compared to what happens in the next five photos. Talk about saving the best till last. Well that's exactly what they did. The fourth photo above was taken at 5.18 p.m. Then there was a pause for six minutes. During that time Mr Demolition Man climbed out of his cab and walked round the south side of the building to carry out an inspection. We all wondered what he was checking for. We soon found out. As he walked back towards the cab he spoke to Ken, our man on the ground (not to be confused with DJKenny), who signalled to me that he was about to take the last section off in one go. I called down to DJKenny on the platform below me and asked if he got that message. "I did!", came the response, so between the two of us we had a video camera and two stills cameras ready to capture the dramatic scene as Mr Demolition Man moved the arm of his excavator up towards the roof, and once he had it in the position he wanted, he pulled the whole lot towards him and the final section of the roof came crashing down in about 8 seconds. It was spectacular, and well worth waiting all afternoon for. So how do you top that? You couldn't! If Fred Dibnah was around he would definitely have said, "Did you like that?" And yes, we certainly did.
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So what next? Well the five photos below show what was left on the site by the General Pool after the dust had settled...
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...and here, below, are three panoramic views of the whole site from the north, south-east and north-east.
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The fourth photo, above, shows the former General Pool the day after demolition (Friday 29 July 2011). The fifth photo shows one of the surveyor's measuring devices on a tripod. I promised you my own memory of the swimming in the General Pool, so here goes. Some swimmers, including me, were tested on their ability to swim, especially in the deep end, so they use to get you to swim a length to assess you. I don't know if everybody was tested, or just those that didn't look too sure of themselves. This might have happened to me in the Gala Pool too, especially in the summer playschemes, but I can't remember. Read Dizzy's memory later about the same thing.

We start to wind down a bit now. The main part of the demolition is almost complete, so I took the weekend off. DJKenny, though, called at the site and took the first photo below, left, on Sunday, 31 July 2011. It looks like they have sprung a leak. Don't talk to me about leaks! It took nearly eight weeks to fix mine! The second photo was taken on Monday, 1 August 2011 and shows the whole site from the Osale Rooms viewing platform. The third was quite an achievement for me because I took a series of images without looking through the viewfinder or the screen. I poked the camera over the security fence and turned it on its axis to get it right first time! Perhaps I should take all my photos that way - I have taken over 5,500 at the baths and used just over 200 on the website. The fourth photo shows the council building in a view never possible in the 20th century. The fifth photo shows the excavations along Legh Street where an engineer was given the task of locating utility pipes and cables in preparation for the laying of the new foundations for the health centre.

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The next batch of photos were taken on 5 August 2011. The first photo below, left, shows the site from Boots Corner. Notice the blue boards on the north-east perimeter of the site. In the coming days the whole site would be surrounded by these boards and scenes of what the new health centre will look like are to be pasted onto them. The second and third photos show the remaining walls of the General and Gala pools from the south. Now I know what Red Rum felt like - would you agree with me that the second photo looks like a jockey's-eye view of the Grand National fences, except the ones at Legh Street are made of concrete? The third photo shows the scene from the Osale Rooms platform, with a wide angle shot of the whole site in the fourth photo.
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The final five photos for 5 August 2011, below, are all panoramic views of the site from different angles. The first four, below, are from Bath Street. The fifth one shows the site from the south-west beside Garven Place medical centre, where I met one of the staff from the centre. She informed me they hadn't decided on a name for the new health centre at that point. I wonder what they should call it? Any ideas?
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After a few days away from site, I revisited to take some further shots on Thursday, 11 August 2011. Demolition is now complete - just the task of preparing the site for the forthcoming construction of the new health centre. It is already looking a bit different. The three photos, below, show (from left to right) the former Teaching Pool and Family Pool, what looks like an underground passageway to the west of the General Pool and the council building attached to the General Pool. Notice just how close the baths wall is to the council building. That's why extra care had to taken when demolishing the General and Gala pools, but Anthony O'Connor & Sons Ltd are experts in their field of work.
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The next three photos show (from left to right) panoramic views of the whole site from Osale Rooms viewing platform, the view from the south-west corner at ground level and the scene from the north-west corner, also at ground level. The blue boarding erected around the site allows two access points for construction vehicles. The three positions (below) along with a fourth location on Legh Street (fourth photo) will form the main viewing points for my photos of the new health centre construction. I might have a new, fifth, viewing point in the future but I'll keep that to myself for now...
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I would like to take this opportunity to thank the contractors, demolition
company and security staff for their assistance in creating this section.
Also to the readers who have contributed to the text and the memories.
Thank you all for your contributions.
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Don't forget to email your memories of the baths. Read general memories of the town in Memory Lane.

If you wish to see what the inside of the baths looked like since they closed in 2003, visit the Flickr website.

Reader's Memories of the Baths

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, see 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 cafe 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 cafe 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.

 

 

Do you have your own memories of the baths? Email them directly, or use my thread on www.warrington-worldwide.co.uk. Also, don't forget to send your other memories of the town for the Memory Lane page.

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.

bath_street_health_and_wellbeing_centre_130318_1.JPG (111619 bytes) 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.
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The site on 3 Sep 2011 21 Nov 2011 16 Apr 2012 4 Jan 2013
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Bath Street 14 Feb 2013 The old baths stonework on 18 Mar 2013

For more on the subject, click the image below for the excellent Lost Lidos website!

Garven Place

Garven Place Medical Centre was officially opened on 16 May 1959 by Dr Edith Summerskill MP. It served the town until the facilities were moved into the Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre alongside and the old building was demolished. The site is now a car park for the new medical centre.
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28 July 2011 28 July 2011 19 Sep 2011
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Seen from the Town
Hall lawn 21 Mar 2012
Demolition
14 Feb 2013
The site as seen from Bank
House car park 14 Feb 2013

Warrington - A Town of Many Industries

mywarrington - created by Gordon I Gandy
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Local Radio - Local Issues - Local Presenters - Proud to be at the Heart of your Community.
Click the station banner, above, select 'Listen Live' and choose your media player.
Or install the TuneIn app on your smartphone or tablet and search for Radio Warrington
The mywarrington Radio Show every Friday lunchtime between 12 and 3 on Radio Warrington.

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