Thornaby Municipal Baths

t14614I have lots of memories of this place I loved the building. We used to play on the steps, used them as a stage when it was closed. I didn’t learn to swim until senior school, I used to hate getting ducked under by big daft lads so I didn’t go much even though we just lived across the road. When I was about seven,  mum had a knitting machine so she knit me a swimsuit and also trunks for dad, you can guess the rest… yes we soon left the pool never to go again for years. It is such a shame it was knocked down as the driving boards are not there anymore but the water is warmer. We used to be frozen walking back to school, no buses for us.

Image and details courtesy of Judy Heslop.

26 thoughts on “Thornaby Municipal Baths

  1. Thornaby-on-Tees Swimming Baths.

    In 1931 the Thornaby-on-Tees Municipal Corporation recognized the necessity for the provision of a municipal swimming bath and plans and estimates were prepared for a scheme which was to cost £25,000, but, due to the national financial situation of that year (the Great Depression) the scheme had to be filed away with great reluctance. However, in 1935, a sub-committee was set up to report on a suitable site for the baths, subsequently the Corporation approved the plans and proposals of the Borough Engineer and Architect, Mr. Philip Brown, M.Inst.M., responsible for the design and the supervision of the whole work. Erected at a cost of £17,000, the new baths were opened in March 1938, by the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Feversham. J.P.

    The front of the building faces due east and the site is admirably situated for the convenience of the residents in both the old and the new areas of the Thornaby borough. The centrally situated main entrance to the building is reached by a short flight of steps, the doors open into the small hall, on the left of which is situated the manager’s office, and on the right the staff room, immediately in front is the booking office. On either side of the booking office there are situated the rooms for the storage of bathers’ clothes; each room accommodates 125 basket and rail clothes hangers for adults and 25 tray baskets for juvenile bathers. The dressing rooms comprise 80 “metal” cubicles, 40 for each sex. Separate shower baths and foot baths are provided for each sex, and these are placed in such positions as to render it compulsory for the bathers to enter them before proceeding to the swimming bath. One wonders how many airmen from RAF Thornaby nearby, regularly used these baths and we can only speculate about the storys they could tell? God Bless Them All.

    The swimming bath is 100 ft. by 35 ft. and the depth varies from 3 ft. to 9 ft. It is constructed of reinforced concrete lined with glazed tiles, and recessed scum channel drain is fixed at water level. The underwater floodlighting units, 14 in number, are capable of penetrating the water to the full width of the bath for use on gala nights, etc. The diving board is of the “Stanley” design – a series of three fixed boards at graded heights from 1 m. to 2 m. The diving equip-ment also includes a standard 1 m. children’s spring board. The gripfoot walking surface more commonly described as pinhead, is, it is claimed, absolutely non-slip even under wet conditions. Accommodation is available for about 130 spectators seating and 278 spectators standing. The plant for the continuous circulation and filtration of the swimming bath water is capable of dealing with 31,000 gal. per hour, giving a complete circulation of the whole of the contents of the bath once every four hours. A car park is also included in the scheme. Mr. J. Farrington, M.N.A.B.S., was the 1938 baths manager. Messrs. Moorhouse and Barker, Ltd., of Thornaby-on-Tees, were the main building contractors, and the structural steelwork was provided by¬ Head – Wrightson and Co., Ltd. (Derived from www-pages and public domain information) Bob Wilson.

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  2. My uncle worked there in the late 60s when the baths got refurbished and the high board looked even higher looking down on a empty pool

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  3. Loved going to the baths especially during school hols, then going to Robinsons café afterwards. I remember hearing “Cathy’s Clown” by the Everley Brothers on the juke box. We also went at evening time at the baths with St. Theresa’s Girls Club.

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    • Hello there I’m Alf’s daughter. Dad died May 22 1974 with leukemia. I just wanted to know if anyone out there remembered him regards Judy

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  4. I would regularly cycle, with my mates, from Roseworth to Thornaby baths for a swim session – sometimes two. We always visited the cafe next for a cup of my favourite “mock turtle” soup. Remember well the high diving board, pushing off the back wall and diving off at a full run to land close to the deep end/shallow transition slope. Happy days of a happy and carefree childhood.

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  5. I lived in Lanehouse Road two minutes walk from the baths my brother and his friends used to take me to the baths a couple of times a week when I was about three I could swim by four, used to go to the baths regular in the winter we would go to Percy Robinsons dairy cafe for a oxo great times I also played in the cornfield and along the river we always had our bonfire in the cornfield. Back to the baths we had swimming with the Arthur head school we would walk to the baths then back to the school going up Lanehouse Road so I used to throw my wet towel and trunks into the passage in the front door of my house I used to be in the school swimming team and it was Stockton schools swimming gala so they were held at the old Stockton pool it was terrible you could not see the lane lines on the bottom it would have been much better to hold the galas at the best pool in the area at the time Thornaby pool why they changed it and removed the boards and the beautiful frontage I don’t know I could go on for ever with stories from the middle fifties and early sixties from this part of Thornaby where I grew up I remember some great times

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  6. Use to go with my 2 brothers here from Billingham on a Friday night by bus. This was much better than Billingham baths,. Had some good times there, and always went next door to the coffee bar for a cold drink and to hear the jukebox, “Halfway to Paradise” was the favourite at the time in the early 60s. Happy days……

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  7. I lived in Cambridge Road not far from the baths and I learnt to swim there. I remember the killing, very tragic. I was also in the Army cadets for a while.

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  8. I used to love the cornfield next to Thornaby Swimming Baths, it ran 250 yards dowhill towards the River and formed part of it’s river bank. If you walked the side of the baths to the River Tees you could turn left at the bottom and follow the River Tees past Foggins Allotments towards the Horseshoe Bend, adjoining the bend was two very large fields used for sheep grazing, I was once walking across this land following the river, and the farmer fired a shotgun at me from about 500 yards away to make me stop, after catching up to me he was red faced incensed about me trespassing on “his land”. I was too young to know age 9, that he had committed a serious offence and my parents should have reported him for this unlawful discharge of a firearm. Around about this time a young boy who attended my school was shot and killed whilst walking along the same riverside path in the Foggins Allotments area, this killing was the work of one rather infamous young man, a tearaway, who with 2 others had stolen the .22 rifle from the T.A. hut situated somewhere in the area. All three youths were sentenced to be detained during Her Majesty’s Pleasure, which meant a life sentence until they were paroled for good behaviour. Two of these youths were good kids, they are today fine men, and it is a very big pity they were led astray by the shooter. The intention was too shoot birds, they ended up killing a fine young boy who today would be approximately 74 years of age, his father worked at Head Wrightsons engineering works.

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    • Hello Bob I’ve never heard that story about the boy who was killed down the allotments we always played in the cornfield there has recently been someone firing bow and arrows down there

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      • Hi Judy, this killing was sensational Evening Gazette news at the time, made sadder for me because I sat next to the boy who was killed in school – we both attended the Nashy School in George Street, I won’t name the three boys concerned because their conviction/s are long spent and, if they are still alive it would be unfair to name them. The circumstances of this crime were: that together they broke into the T.A.Hut, situated near the aerodrome, the guns were not locked up inside it which caused a quite a stir in Court, from it they stole a .point 22 rifle and being youngsters they then set off down to the river bank to shoot birds, whilst walking along the river bank they spotted the boy they shot walking towards them, the ringleader, said to the two other boys words to the effect off “Watch me shoot him” (they should have stopped him by words or deeds but failed to do so which made them an accessory to murder) having shot this boy through the chest dead, they then ran to the Queens Cinema situated in Mandale Road, Thornaby to attend the Saturday afternoon matinee, they went inside solely to establish an alibi “that they’d been at the pictures all that afternoon.” Inside the pictures the lights were switched on by Thornaby Police Officers who arrested all three of them. I think they were tried at York Assizes but could be wrong on this point. All three got life sentences but being kids it was reduced to a “Life sentence until her Majesty’s Pleasure was known”, meaning they would be released early.

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        • Hi Bob. I was in the Green Howards Cadets when this shooting happened. The Cadet Hut was next to the tunnel under the railway line. It was a short cut to Stockton along the river to Auto Electrics. We turned up one night to find the wall into the Armory smashed and a 2.2 rifle missing. Then we heard a lad had been shot. The story was they were shooting the gun and did not realise they shot a lad behind the hedge opposite. I knew these lads also. D.Brittain.

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    • I remember this well Bob. I lived next door to one of the boys involved. Also my mam Rhoda was involved in the refurbishment of the Baths there is a plaque inside stating this. Many happy hours spent there.

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    • His father worked a lot of his working life in the Fitting Shop at the Malleable & finished his few years before retiring in the Heat Exchange Shop, Head Wrightsons, Thornaby.

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  9. Yes, this was the best Teesside pool by far in the 1950s. There was a 5 metre diving board plus 1 metre and 3 metre spring boards. Always very clean and well supervised. I remember you were given a clothes basket for changing which had a number. When your number was called your session had finished -all too soon. I think it was 33 and one third yards long.

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    • I remember the high diving board. With wobbly legs a queasy stomach and almost able to touch the roof it took a lot to jump, but to climb down was worse! Do you remember walking home eating a small loaf of fresh bread?

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      • Was your bread from Snowdens? wish I had the recipe, my favourite memory, walking home from Snowdens walking home bread still warm picking off the crusty bits mmm

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      • Yes, Alan, we walked everywhere in those days. Home to Thornaby Swimming Baths was a good hour on foot. I didn’t get my first two wheeler bike until I was 12 (from Bill Tillston’s shop near the Five Lamps). My Dad used to pass this shop on his bike every day on his way to work at Dorman Long from Newham Grange.

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  10. When I was at Cleveland School in Eaglescliffe we used to have swimming lessons. We had to get the bee line coach from the end of the school drive to Thornaby where we had our lesson. I remember once going to the top of the diving board which was quite high, then losing my nerve and having the embarrassment of going back down the steps.

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  11. We would be waiting on the steps every Saturday morning in the early 60s for the first session. The best baths in the area by far. Also the only ones with decent diving boards. We could even leave our bikes outside without fear of them being stolen.

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  12. Taught myself to swim here during the summer holidays of 1961 before I went to the grammar school because I knew we would have to learn once there. I loved the ‘blue’ water as opposed to the green at Stockton and Billingham. Used to travel from Roseworth on the No 7 bus.

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    • I also taught myself to swim here, as none of the schools I went to gave swimming lessons. Started in the shallow end doing the dog paddle hopping along with one foot on the bottom, then progressing to the crawl. Taught myself to dive in too. Best baths in the area by a long shot.

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