Off to the Baths

Off to the Baths

Did you get blown away with the wind on Monday night? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and yesterday was sunny with a wind, but not extraordinary, thankfully. We had a nice day in on Sunday and watched the rain lash down outside from the warmth of our home. You can’t beat it can you. As I was looking at all the rain coming down, I don’t know why, but it made me think of swimming pools. Maybe because I thought I wouldn’t like to be in the sea, who knows. Anyway, I let my mind wander, it does a lot of that I know. But I remembered when I was a child and going to our local swimming baths.

A Handy Place for the Swimming Baths

We were lucky to have the swimming baths just a few yards off our street, along the main road. A bit of a funny place to have a swimming pool I thought, but very handy, especially as my junior school was near to the back entrance.

My old Junior School. Now flattened and the site of houses
My old Junior School. Now flattened and the site of houses

I would imagine it was built at the turn of the century, remembering the style of it, but I did love to go there. There weren’t swimming classes then like there are today and even when Jane was young, you just got into the water and had a lot of fun. The small pool was only 3’ at its deepest and that was where people who couldn’t swim headed for, me included. The main pool seemed huge to me and I only went in there when I got a bit older.

My mum bought me a life belt, as arm bands weren’t invented in ‘the olden days’ and I can still see it now. It was made of rubber, bright yellow on one half and  bright green on the other, you couldn’t miss me, that’s for sure. I used to blow it up before I went and with that I managed to go in the big pool although I didn’t stray much from the 3’6 end!

Out of my depth

It didn’t half support me and to me was wonderful as there was no hope of drowning! That was until my brother pushed me into the 8’ end without it, knowing I couldn’t swim. I can still see me going down and down into the water and the colour and feel of it as I knew I could well drown. Luckily I bobbed up eventually, like a cork, and was near to the side thank goodness. I was met with my brother standing there, laughing at me. How stupid was that, I could have drowned for all he cared! It certainly scared me about going out of my depth I can tell you, and I was very happy when he got into trouble for it.

Off to the Baths

In the Summer when I was at Junior school, me and my friends would take our little ‘train cases’ to school with us. It was just a small bag that made us feel grown up. Packed inside was a towel, my costume and deflated life belt along with the pennies it cost to get into the baths. When the last lesson was over at school, we would charge out of the classroom. We’d head across the road to the back door of the baths in the roasting sunshine to enjoy an hour’s swimming and playing before we went home for tea.

Swimming baths. Photo: Dave Bevis
The back door of my old swimming baths. Photo: Dave Bevis

It always amazed me how hungry I was when I’d been there, I used to walk in and eat like a horse. I think I’d better take up swimming again and see if it makes me hungry, as I don’t have much of an appetite as I’ve got older!

Happy Days

I loved the smell of the chlorine. And the huge glass ceiling that poured light into the pool, making rippling dancing wavelets. The changing cabins were all lined up either side of the pool. There was only just enough room to get in them, but we didn’t care. We just got undressed and into our costumes. Not forgetting that we always wore a skin tight cap that just about crushed your head. That was supposed to stop your hair from getting wet but it didn’t work with me, I always looked like a drowned rat when I got out!

The screams of the children as they played still rings in my ears, and the fun we had splashing about and trying to swim. We had wonderful times then, all for the sake of a few pence. There’s one thing for sure, I’ll never forget those school days where life seemed so happy.

Now, my old primary school is no longer and instead is the site of new houses. And the swimming baths has been converted into flats.

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