The New Brighton Bathing Pool

... .... . .. ........................ One of the first things my mother did when we reached the age of about 7 years was to send us for swimming lessons, with living so near to the sea she had no alternative. Once we were 8 and old enough to go swimming on our own, we were bought yearly passes for the local baths which meant we spent most of the summer holidays in New Brighton Bathing Pool. My youngest brother and myself were always the last to leave the pool and normally the lifeguards resorted to getting a boat out to try and retrieve us from the pool. It was all in good fun and we used to leave through the staff entrance with them!!

picture of the pool

From the look of the costumes this was little before my day!

My eldest brother, was constantly getting into trouble at the pool for bombing from the highest board, even after the boards were roped off and declared dangerous he would sneak up and wait until the coast was clear before taking a run and jump from the top, all the lifeguards whistles would sound at the same time and then it was a rush to catch him before he could disappear amongst the crowds. I don't think they ever caught him from what I remember!!

 

The Building of the Pool

New Brighton Bathing Pool was opened on 13th June 1934 by Lord Leverhulme at a cost of £103,240 it was the largest aquatic stadium the world. 12,000 people attended the opening.

The pool was built on sand, covering an area of approximately 4.5 acres and was constructed of mass concrete, the floor was reinforced with steel mesh. It was covered with a rendering of white Portland cement with a skirting of black tiles. The pool was designed as to gain as much sunshine as possible, therefore facing south and was sheltered from the North winds. The exterior walls were coated with Snowcrete, with special fine sand from Leighton Buzzard. Lights which lit up under water were placed at the deep end for night bathing.

Picture of the Bathing Pool

View of the deep end of the pool and the diving boards

Statistics of the Pool

The Pool was designed to allow for Championship swimming events, on the south being 165 ft (32 laps to one mile) by 60 ft. The central part of the Pool for general swimming was 330 ft by 60 ft (16 laps to the mile). The overall measurements of the Pool: 6,500 square feet, 330 feet by 225 feet wide. On the north side the shallow area was 330 feet by 105 feet. The Pool could hold 4000 bathers and some 20,000 spectators. The depth of the Pool had an average of 5 feet, but at the diving end was 15 feet.

picture of the pool

The Pool contained 1,376,000 gallons of pure sea water, which could be filled or emptied in eight hours. The Pool was filled through the ornament cascade and the water was constantly changed and purified, filtered and chemically treated, at a rate of 172,000 gallons per hour. The plant included chemical tanks, aerator, ammoniator, chlorinator, air compressor, and electric motors for the pumps, etc. A regular supply of water was obtained from the adjoining Marine Lake, which acted as a huge storage and settlement tank. The total filter area equalled 861 square feet. The rate of filtration was 200 gallons per square foot per hour.

 

Admission to the Pool

The admission fees were 6d for adults in the week and 1/- on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Children paid 4d and 6d. Non-bathers were charged 2d. At he end of the opening week over 100,000 people had paid to go into the new pool and on the Saturday, a record was set when some 35,000 people went through the turnstiles. During the first four weeks 350,000 people went in, of whom 87,400 were bathers.

Picture of the pool

View from the divng boards looking towards the shallow end

Events at the Pool

Miss New Brighton

The Miss New Brighton Bathing Girl Contest started in the Pool in 1949 when the first heat attracted only nine entrants. The following heat saw an increase to 23 entrants. The final was won by Miss Edna McFarlane and as the rain teamed down she collected her cup and a cheque for £75, 15,000 people paid to watch the event.

Among the winners of Miss New Brighton, Violet Petty became the holder of the title in 1950 entering whilst on a day trip from Birmingham at the age of 18, she later became known to millions as Anne Heywood the Rank film actress.

The last Miss New Brighton contest was held in 1989.

How the pool looked in its heyday

New Brighton Rock

In May 1984 Granada Television staged a £100,000 Pop Spectacular under the title of "New Brighton Rock" with leading groups taking part. It was attended by large crowds and screened on ITV on Saturday 23rd June 1984 at 10.30 pm.

Diving

The ASA Centralised National Diving Championships were held in the Pool on 23rd July 1951. the top spring board was at the 10 metre mark(32 feet 6 inches) whilst the lower one was three metres.

 

The End of the Pool

The storms in February, 1990 with hurricane force winds of almost 100 mph caused very severe damage to the Pool when seas forced a hole into the foundations of the Northwest corner of the complex causing the upper structure to cave in. With the cost of about £4 million to repair the damage it was decided by the authorities to demolish the building. The Merseyside Development Corporation bulldozers levelled the site in the summer of 1990.

Photo of New Brighton Baths after the storm

Photo taken at 8am on 28th February 1990, after the storms of the 26th/27th. The storms made a hole beneath the baths' wall, and the wall went straight down, cracking.

Photo taken by Jim Woods

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