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Gordon I Gandy

Legh Street Baths

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I would like to point readers to my website www.mywarrington.me.uk as I am covering the demolition of Warrington Baths on Legh Street and am looking for reader's memories of visiting the baths/leisure facilities to add to the section currently on the Home Page (it will have its own dedicated section soon). Did you learn to swim there or maybe take your children to swim there? Or maybe to take advantage of the leisure facilities available? What do you think of the closure and demolition? You can use the email address gigan@mywarrington.me.uk to send your memories. It will be assumed that all contributions are intended for publication on mywarrington unless otherwise stated. You are welcome to use your real name, a pen name or remain anonymous. Contributions may be edited for clarity. Other memories on the town are also welcome for the Memory Lane page. Thanks. Gordon Gandy. Email me

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Welcome to the forum Gordon.

 

I'd just like to say that your website is absolutely fantastic and I have viewed it many times in the past.

 

Funnily enough some of us were talking about the old Baths Hall on here only yesterday under another topic. (photo's of warrington... anyone remember these'. 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 :shock:

 

I must only have 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 very old photo's of my mums somewhere of 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 :lol:

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AT junior school St James Latchford we were taken once a week to the baths for swimming lessons,taught by Mr anderson whos wife swam the 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 went in for pop and crisps because it was cheaper than the shop in the baths.Then went home with wet hair and soggy towel

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Gordon. 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 waterpolo team, results reported in the Guardian each week. Did they have wrestling there at one time? (as apart from the Parr Hall)

 

Happy days

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

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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 meatpies - I used to get in free with my uncle when he covered it for Joe.

Used to drive a John Hoey (Poplars Taxi)taxi whilst in college and oft times 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.

Already talked to Mr Gandy re: other memories - care to join me Harry?

Didn't see the other responses before posting.

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It's lovely to read about all these other things that went on at the old warrington baths...I had no idea about any of them until this week.

 

It's nice to know that some of theses have now been remembered and shared for others to enjoy and hopefully to share on again years down the line through the likes of this forum and also Mr Gandy's website too.

 

This forum is great is it not for finding out about things you never knew... shame we have lost some of the much older stuff and memories during the forum upgrades over the years though as it would be great to read back to day one.

 

Maybe Gary could create an archive section of all the older interesting local history/memories type topics that have now gone from view for us... how about it Gary :D

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The spiderman unmasking in the wrestling reminds me of another wrestler, Kendo Nagasaki I think his name was, on World of Sport on Saturday afternoons 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, wasn't he? But don't let me interrupt the reader from the baths memories! Keep them coming.

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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 comotion 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!! :D

 

I too love the site Gordon....especially that photo of the blue Corsair at last years classic car show!! :wink:

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As afterthoughts, (we were a tinbath 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?

 

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 craggy chap, Tommy Jeffers. Always nice and pleasant with we children. Like the Anderson's, he went with the building.

 

Nice posting, Stallard.

 

Happy days

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Not my memory but I have been asked to put this on by someone rather 'close' to me who is now reminiscing about the good old days thanks to Gordon's topic and website. Gordon you of course have his permission to include this on your website if you feel it is relevant

 

"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 the them to Treadur 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 which 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 main man pressing for the closure in the 80’s was a Councillor (Jeff?) Orange (from memory so ‘allegedly’) but they didn’t get their way. We successfully stopped the planned closure although years down the line it seems they finally got their way 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."

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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, 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 or mans trunks, 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 and 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, 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 and 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, the one thing I have made sure of is that both our children are competent swimmers.

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Thanks Algy for your memory and to Dizzy for the new memory and Yes Please! on the offer of Stockton Heath school photos. It might help to batch the photos in groups of three per email as the server can block files which become too large. I usually publish them between 640 and 800 pixels wide. An alternative email address for readers is mywarrington@talktalk.net. I met the maintenance guy and last key holder from the baths last weekend who has provided some great info and pics for the website and is looking up some extra stuff on the pools (dimensions and capacities of the pools, etc) to add to what he has sent me already. I'll let you all know when I load it to the site. Demolition is virtually complete now, sadly. Contractors say there was lots of decay and deterioration. Question is, if the council kept it open, could that have been prevented? Thanks again to one and all for your contributions. I'll add the latest ones later tonight.

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Re the baths, I can't help but still think that if it had been maintained a little better in the past and of course hadn't been closed and left empty for so long then YES the demise and decay could and should have been preventable !!

 

Ah well another one bites the dust as they say.

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I agree with you Dizzy. Great shots, but very risky to go in there, especially when you look at my photo on the website of the General pool with the scaffolding in - it was put in there for an inspection by the Council and left up because of safety concerns about the roof collapsing. :unsure:

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Just for interest on here there are some internal photo's the baths on the following link (taken in June 2010). I obviously don't condone how the people got these pictures but I'm glad they did. :wink:

 

Dodgy site that one Dizz, (28Days Later) they get up to all kinds of high jinks entering sites that they shouldn't I've been on before and there's some really interesting content though. :wink:

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While I was photographing the demolition I was presented with this plaque commemorating the visit of Adrian Moorhouse MBE in 1994. He opened a new section of the baths but the plaque doesn't say which section. In conversation with former employees of the baths we think it might have been a new gymnasium. Can anyone confirm that for me?

 

warringtonbathsplaquegordon.jpg

 

Image replaced by Dizzy as requested by Gordon

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No idea sorry Gordon and so far I cant find anything in press archives etc. They did have a health suite which I guess comprised the gym but I've no idea when that opened.

 

The council should know though as it was obviously an official opening... or Gary/David might remember the opening by Mr Moorhouse as they may have covered it :wink:

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