Jul 12

Championship Bath – Blackpool Derby Baths – 1939

Championship Bath – The Derby Baths Blackpool

hampionship Baths - The Famous International Championship Derby Baths Blackpool - image

The Famous International Championship Derby Baths Blackpool

The most famous of championship indoor swimming pools of its era in Europe.  An aquatic theatre hosting famous International Swimming events. These were International Diving,  Olympic, European and Commonwealth Trials events.

Home to the annual Amateur Swimming Association Centralised Championships, Water Polo, and Synchronised Swimming Champs.

Championship - Swimming Victories - image

Click picture to see how they really did it in 1963!

Cheers of excitement, foot stamping, hand clapping and chanting were the sounds of dramatic breaking of multi records. Inside this salt water championship bath were emotional swings between pure joy and sadness. Television took all the excitement into the nations homes. Deep in the depths of the building was a BBC broadcasting station. This regularly brought the sport of swimming into peoples living rooms. This majestic building produced many stars, the 1,800 seats filled to capacity. 


Championship - Opening of Baths - image

The Gazette & Herald 29/08/1965 (Blackpool Central Lib.)

Everyone throughout Europe had heard unofficially it had opened to the public in 1939.   The official opening of the championship bath was to come later. War had interrupted the official opening in 1940, by Lord Derby, and it wasn’t until 1965 that his grandson the Earl of Derby conducted the honours! 

Championship Baths Exterior of the Famous Baths- North Shore - championship

During the war, 5 million servicemen used this awesome championship pool. The yellow tiled facade “Art Deco” style championship baths attracted 1,200 swimmers the first day and 75 per cent of them were visitors! Countless thousands learned to swim in the championship sea water filled baths.  The championship baths later on were to  give way to fresh water swimming.   The building offered a Turkish and remedial section, the sauna facilities being out of this world.

The Baths in Construction

The Skeleton of the Derby Baths. 1938 - image

The Skeleton of the Baths. 1938. District Central Library Blackpool 1994.  enlarge +


Championship -Skeleton of the Derby Baths - image

Basement to Ground floor and to go up! District Central Library 1994 enlarge +


Championship Derby Baths in Construction - image

The construction well under way. 1938 Blackpool District Central Library. 1994 enlarge +

Championship Derby Baths lanes installed - image

The Lanes being installed 1938.  Blackpool District Central Library. 1994 enlarge+

 As time went on,  for cost effectiveness,  there were discussions about flooring the bath over during winter. This was to provide indoor bowling. This didn’t materialise as it was too costly laying the floor down. It would then have to be taken up again for swimming  purposes.  Discussions were taking place on how to bring the championship baths up to a modern day image.

The Amateur Swimming Centralised Swimming Championships were now being staged in the South at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. By 1986 and 87  the championship bath saw patronage plummet.  Fun pools and splash slides were the flavour of the time. By 1988 the championship Derby Baths began to live on borrowed time.   Despite uproar and demonstrations there seemed no possible reprieve. There was  a  master-plan in progress to redevelop the growing shabbiness of this once wondrous pool.

The North Shore landmark was doomed to disappear.

Championship Derby Bath is demolished - image

Bulldozers in action. Evening Gazette 06/09/90. Blackpool District Central Library 1994.


In 1990 hearts were heavy in Blackpool and the Swimming world. The Championship Derby Baths were stripped bare, and amidst sadness and uproar finally razed to the ground. Developers wanted to to build a plush 12 Million South Sea Island Complex.

Championship Baths The Derby Baths site - image

The Site of the “Derby” Taken 1994 AGJ enlarge +

The memories remain. To this day it remains an empty grassland,  and no redevelopment (2015)

Championship Derby Baths site - image

Grassland Site 2015 – will enlarge


From Greatness to Nothing  agj





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