Crewe Corporation Public Swimming Baths - March 2017
Visited with Humpa
The official opening of Crewe’s new Swimming Baths on 6th November, 1937 was an occasion of great civic pride. The Mayor, Alderman F. Bott, said in his opening speech that the day “… marked the fulfilment of a long and ardent desire on the part of the Corporation to give the fullest opportunity to develop a healthy, happy and virile people.” Mr. J. W. Bowen, Crewe’s Labour M.P. for 1929-35, declared the new Baths to be “money well spent” and proof that the Council were once again “…living up to their motto of `Never Behind’.”
A ridiculously good history of the baths can be found at the Baths and Wash Houses Historical Archive, along with some amazing photos that I've linked to within this report.
I'd been aware that the baths had been due to shut for some time with the new "Lifestyle Center" having opened last year, but for some reason it'd never really occurred to me to even look up any history of the old baths let alone go and take a look at it. Me and Humpa were on our usual weekend travels at a bit of a loose end, our earlier plans had all gone pear shaped and a quick browse of the forum brought up the Leads and Rumours topic for the baths so we thought it'd be worth checking it out to see if it was doable. It was far better than I'd ever thought it would be. Luckily a number of original features have survived to the present day, including a lot of the tiling, impressive entrance lobby area and original belt driven laundry equipment. Sadly as is to be expected some parts were lost through modernisation over the years, particularly in the changing areas where the original teak changing cubicles had been dispensed off to be replaced with more modern equivalents.
Cheshire East Council are currently seeking a developer to take on the site, it's their preference that the Art Deco façade is retained, we shall wait and see what does happen I guess.
This area of the building once contained the "Ladies Slipper Baths", the Mens being on the opposite side of the building. The original tiled floor can be seen exposed where the newer covering has been pulled back. As mentioned before the original teak cubicles were at some point removed. The basement contains all of the plant necessary to run the baths including the boilers, water treatment system etc, it also has a series of corridors that circulate around the baths with viewing windows for inspection purposes. There was originally also the club room for the resident swimming club, this was more recently used as a fitness area. A nice surprise was to find the original belt driven laundry equipment still in situ, including the washing machine named "Big Bertha" as well as a drying cabinet manufactured by Thomas Bradford & Co. of Salford, the renowned laundry engineers.