12 thoughts on “Stockton Swimming Baths

  1. I remember that outside the main entrance on the opposite side of the road was a small shop that sold fresh baked bread. We would share a loaf between us, and tear the bread apart, it tasted wonderful, no butter, no spreads, just fresh baked bread. I can not imagine the modern kids getting so much pleasure out of a simple loaf of bread.

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    • How times have changed Ben, the Harburn brothers who you knew were all good swimmers, in fact there is a photo on this site when Bill was the Stockton schoolboy champion.

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  2. In the 1950s you got forty minutes in the public sessions at a cost of 4d old pence. (Just over 1.5 p in modern money and in today’s value, about 30-50p. Very cheap!)

    I think that one wore some kind of coloured armlet which allowed the lifeguard to tell you when to get out. But given the normal water temperature, which was probably in the 15-18 deg C range, 40 minutes was more than one could stand. After about 25 minutes most boys would climb out and sit on the steps while their bodies recovered, before a final dip..

    At the end of the evening session, the boiler would be shut down with the water temperature falling to probably around 12 deg. You could detect the in flow of the unheated or barely heated water, and at that you just had to get out.

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  3. In the late 1950s early 60s it was possible to go to Stockton baths to have a hot bath. That was much better than a tin bath in front of a fire for those who lived in houses with no bathrooms.

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    • George that was true though it went back much further than that. Slipper Baths they were called and in an area of mass street housing all with no bathrooms as we know them much needed. You paid your coppers after standing in a queue, the attendant filled the bath, enough water to wash in not up to your chin, you got a threadbare towel a piece of soap and in you went.
      There was also a wash house, the women would take baskets or even pram loads of clothes to the wash house and do the weekly wash. It would become a local gossip meeting as they all scrubbed away they then took the clothes home to dry on lines in the yards and back streets. You would see lines criss crossing the back streets as washing dried. Monday was the normal wash day for most women then.
      Young people today have no realisation as to what their Grandparents put up with and even parents though things improved rapidly when the war and austerity finally ended. Saying that the old tin bath had many uses, we killed our own pigs so I would light the boiler in the wash house and fill the bath with boiling water. The pig would be killed and bled then on a hand cart into the truck garage and into the bath. We would all scrub the hair off the skin then the carcass hauled up on blocks and butchered. It was a fact of life, I do not think they would have let us do that in the slipper baths.
      Frank.

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  4. I was at a swimming competition there in the 60s. I was swimming for the Billingham South Modern. My swimming style was the Crawl and, we did two lengths of the pool. I was leading until the 1st, length when I stopped. I had held my breath for the whole length and was completely disoriented. I don’t remember being taught how to breath properly then. It was just, dive-in, swim and if you are the fastest your in the team.

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  5. Learn’t to swim there. Trying to remember if it was Miss Creek who taught us there, or have I just made that up?. Fairfield Sec Modern used to take us there on a double decker bus. But also as little kids if you had 6d pocket money, used to go there and it was 4d to get in and after spending hours in there off to Pete’s snack bar and getting a two penny dip bun then across the road to watch the unfortunate sheep/cows going into the slaughter house.
    Dave.

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  6. What an excellent set of pictures, dating from the late 70s perhaps. Only the vestiges of the original Bath Lane street system are left as can be seen in the picture which shows the Lord Nelson pub.

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  7. I remember going there just once with school, in the mid to late 1970’s I think, I guess the modern baths were out of action or busy as it never happened again. I remember the cages that you put your stuff in and then hung them up on a rail. I remember it being a bit cold and the light was strange, due to it not having the large windows or lights that the more modern pool (now demolished) had. It was even a bit spooky, like you weren’t meant to be there, it made the water look and feel different. It does look a bit derelict in these pictures which couldn’t be much later than my visit. The pool itself was also a bit small, I remember having to swim straight down the pool till halfway and then had to go diagonal to the far corner to try and get a distance equivalent to a width of the modern pool 🙂

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    • I think they moved the school swimming sessions into the old baths for a while, can’t remember why now. I used to do swimming training in there with Stockton ASC on a Monday and Friday night and on a Saturday morning, and train in the ‘new baths’ on a Thursday night. The old baths were always much colder, but I suppose being in there so often, we got used to it!

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  8. Remember this place well, my dad used to take me and my brother occasionally on a Sunday morning. The water was always cold and people used to stand against the back wall, must have backed onto the boiler room I imagine, to get warm. We used to go round to a café on Norton road called Pete’s and buy a penny dip bun!

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  9. I loved going to those baths. On the way home got a bovril drink from the machine then walked to Pete’s snack bar and got a penny dip bun! One time in Pete’s snack bar no other than Adam Faith was sat at the bar having his lunch. Those were the days.

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