Sussex Street Baths

The baths in Sussex Street opened in 1905, they were situated where the old market used to be – where Peacock’s is today.  They closed in 1939 in order for the building to be used as a supply depot during WW2.  We don’t think it opened again after the war but if you know differently please comment below.
The wonderful Rhyl Outdoors Baths  opened in 1930 but of course these were closed in the Winter.

The Sussex Street Baths were the enterprise of a gentleman from Walsall – Mr Huxley.  Whilst the building itself was not exceptional, there was praise for the facilities within.  The swimming bath was described in the Rhyl Journal as being “of full racing size”.  It was 75′ long and 30′ wide (23mx9m).  The depth was 6’6″ (2m)at the plunge end and 3’3″ (1m) at the other.  It was fitted up with apparatus for polo, chute, trapeze, diving stage and climbing ropes for developing the muscles.

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A balcony for spectators ran all the way around. The pool was constantly supplied with water direct from the sea, “powerful machinery being employed for that purpose”.  The water was heated and kept at around 75° F (24°C) by a huge boiler.  The Journal reported that there were also private baths including “electric baths, vapour baths, Russian Baths and ordinary hot and cold sea baths”.  There was also full hydropathic treatment available.

A Rhyl resident who used to attend the baths in the 1930’s shares his memories: “We had great fun there as children.  The water was always warm so even in the Summer, if the weather was unseasonably chilly, we preferred it to braving the cool temperature of the outdoor baths.  I can remember going regularly – the price was not prohibitive, we didn’t have to save or take bottles back to the shop to afford the admission.  Men and boys used the cubicles on the poolside and ladies used the ones on the balcony.  We could use the hanging ropes to swing across the pool and then drop into the water.  A few of the more adventurous types would grab a rope from the balcony and drop in from a height, although this was strictly against the rules!  From the balcony we could also reach a door that led into the rear of the café.  We could knock on the door to buy buttered crusts for a halfpenny or a penny, I can’t quite remember.  Jam would be a halfpenny or a penny more.”

The formal opening of the baths took place on Friday, June 16th 1905, and the great and the good of Rhyl were in attendance.  Mr J.W. Jones, Chairman of the Council opened the door with a silver key and then addressed the assembled guests from the balcony overlooking the baths.  In concluding his address he wished the undertaking every success and added “as a result of the facilities there afforded they would have in Rhyl a community not only of proficient swimmers, but of youth and manhood made physically and morally strong”.
The High Sheriff of Flintshire then spoke, followed by Dr. A. Eyton Lloyd (Medical Officer of Health) who extolled the virtues of swimming for health and fitness.  It would be nearly 50 years before Sir Richard Doll discovered the link between smoking and lung cancer, but Dr. Eyton Lloyd said those who smoked “were diminishing their physical reserve” and appealed to young people to “do themselves justice and smoke less and swim more”.

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After the speeches refreshments were handed around, there was music from Herr Groop’s band and an exhibition of fancy swimming given by Miss Pauline Brown of Birmingham, which concluded with the “Monte Cristo Sack Trick”.  This looks very scary, to view click here

 

 

 

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2 Comments

Filed under Buildings/Location, Sport, Tourism

2 responses to “Sussex Street Baths

  1. Maggi

    My Mum remembered going here from school (that would be around the same time as your Dad, Ruth). Phyllis Owen used to give them a rope to hang on to and pull them along whilst they tried to swim. When it was Mum’s turn something went wrong and she went under and it frightened her so much she never learnt ! When we used to go to the outdoor baths it was always my Dad who came in with me whilst Mum sat on the side fully dressed !!

    • ola66

      My Mum was taught by Phyllis Owen as well Maggie. My Dad’s story about the baths was that little lads used to sneak up to the upstairs balcony (where the womens changing cubicles were located) and run past the cubicles pushing the doors open ……clearly there was a lock problem :-(……..what was going on inside was on display to the pool below!

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