Column: Taking a dip in the municipal baths

Carol Foster
Carol Foster

Well dear readers, this week I have a memory that I’m sure many of you will recall with great fondness, or alarm!

Many moons ago, we used to visit a place every week and be joined by most of the town, it seemed.

Of course, I am talking of Kingsway Baths - the place which has now been transformed into an architectural creation.

It was quite a fascinating place with many a large wooden closed door that made you wonder if there were a million pools lurking behind. The main pool was large with an eight feet depth at the deepest end, which seemed Mariana trench-like to me as a kid.

It was difficult to find safe passage across the waters, it has to be said, so thronged was the place – hence the alarm bit!

I had only been party to the crabbing pool in Morecambe before this.

My friends and I enjoyed going, however, and practised our new swimming techniques in between the others.

However, it certainly wasn’t the place to try out your butterfly stroke, unless you didn’t mind lamping a few people en route!

I remember seating going up quite high and the cold shallow pool to walk through on the way to the changing rooms.

It has to be said that it was pretty freezing in there – none of your pampering warmth – and I recall small curtained changing booths.

Green perhaps? The bit I enjoyed most, however, was the hot chocolate from the vending machine afterwards.

We also had the pleasure of a weekly school trip to Ripley baths from the age of 10, where we learned to do the six length marathon and retrieve a brick from the depths. The baths seemed very warm in comparison, though also a lot smaller. At least we were spared the indignity of the French pool.

I recall being told, while on holiday there, that a coloured chemical was put in the water to show offenders of the urinating kind, thus important not to ‘faire pipi’.

How embarrassing that would be! I’m sure Kingsway would have been bright pink...

Kingsway was a huge and grand old building which was quite buzzing back then in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

I would love to hear readers’ memories.