Croydon Scarbrook Road Baths – Inside Outside
The first pool of the eventual three opened in 1866
Croydon Scarbrook Road Baths. Picture below below is taken from “Britain from Above” (ref EPW056623). It is a reverse picture of above. The outdoor pool nestles between the two roof lines on the above 1970 picture. The main entrance 1970 picture is in fact the rear building on this picture. (The chimney stack is to the left of the main entrance)
Malcolm Stringer writes: “We can see a dome shaped feature at the rear right corner of the open air pool. This is the glass roof of the circular shaped foyer immediately behind the entrance block. The foyer had doors off to the 3 pools – going clockwise – 1875 pool (Pool A); 1909 pool (Pool B); Open air pool (Pool C). It also housed drinks and confectionery machines.
Pool B was accessed via a long corridor, which clearly went between Pool A and Pool C. There were also slipper baths at the facility (I’ve read there were 24 of them). I never actually saw them ( I didn’t really know where they were), but I think they were on the left as one walked in the front door, with the ticket office on the
I don’t have a photo of Pool A, Editor: – Malcolm please refer to Neil Henderson’s contribution at the end.
It was substantially smaller than Pool B, with the changing cubicles all at the same level as the pool side (unlike Pool B). There was a balcony or gallery round the perimeter, above the cubicles, with stairs at either end. There was a short diving structure, with platforms up to around 2m I would say, but this was removed in the late 1960s (probably a safety hazard). I think the higher boards in Pool B were
also removed at some point. As children we went mostly to Pool A as it was more suitable for children’s antics.
Further interesting notes about the aerial view.
The most prominent other building in the photo is the Davis Cinema – largest in the country. To the left is the town hall. This was actually built on the site of the old Croydon Central station, which closed I think in 1890, as it was impractical to run trains on a short spur from East Croydon. The world famous Fairfield Hall was built in the early 1960s on the rest of the ex Croydon Central line, which had been truncated to a goods yard (top left).
Mother used to take us to the park (very top left) to watch the trains (cutting just in front of). Occasionally saw a steam train. She ultimately
bought a retirement flat just opposite, and died there in 2010.
I think it is quite an incredible photo, showing Croydon as it was, I cannot remember the residential long rows of uniform houses, and very few cars.”
Further research AGJ below
Permission was granted for nude bathing 1969.
From the opening period, the outside pool allowed only male bathers. Croydon Scarbrook Road outdoor bath was used for gentlemen only in the summer months from April to October – admission 2d.
Discussions began for the future project of a pool in 1854. School Board Boys were allowed to use it on Saturday am. 1875.
Discussions began for the building of a new swimming bath (picture) in 1907, and the opening took place in 1909 conducted by the Mayor.
Croydon Scarbrook Road Baths had two indoor baths
The swimming bath in the swimming hall was 100ft x 35 ft and was replete with modern improvements of the day. It carried depths from 3ft 6ins to 7ft 6ins.During the winter months the Central Swimming Hall accommodated 1400 people and varied in use for dancing, concerts and other entertainments. There was also another covered bath 86ft x 25ft wide between 3ft and 6 ft in depth.
During the summer season the two indoor baths were open from 6am to 9pm every week day and 6- 9am on Sunday. The indoor baths were always available for each sex. In addition there were 24 first and second class warm baths for gentlemen and four for for ladies.
The Superintendants for the Croydon Baths were Mr and Mrs Halstead. By 1928 the baths needed construction work. In 1960 there was suggestion that the site be sold and a new bath built elsewhere. However, in 1961, the indoor c.f. bath was closed for the installation of a removable hand rail. 1964 saw the site of the baths held on lease from the Whitgift Foundation.Rent was variable every 10 years and was based on the average prices of wheat, barley and oats. The baths received a face-lift in 1967 for £2,500.
OUTCOME: Seven years later Croydon Scarbrook Road Baths were demolished in 1974 – Croydon council couldn’t afford new baths. The wonderful old baths described once as “one of the finest in the country” stood in the vicinity of Scarbrook Road and Wandle Street.
Contribution by Neil Henderson
Within the text here are three photos of the Croydon Scarbrook Road Baths Small Pool on loan from a former colleague Robert Finch, whose father, Bob Finch worked on the building’s construction, possibly in 1928.
Mr.Finch worked for the building firm Messrs. Burnard and Pickett of Wallington. At the moment I have lodged an enquiry with the Croydon Museum and Archive Service in an effort to establish the extent of the construction work carried out in 1928, already mentioned by AGJ in her article.
Looking between these photos and others either already here or recently submitted by followers of the Facebook Croydon and Surrounding Areas History Group (where I have had an amazing response, albeit some of them rather spurious comments), I currently think that either major repairs were necessary to the existing roof structure or that the small pool was completely rebuilt fifty years after its first opening.
Robert Finch does not have a computer nor does he access the internet anywhere. However, he has an amazing memory of the past and is pleased that his father’s old photos are finally creating interest for some of us. His father was also Burnard and Pickett’s foreman for the building of the Cheam Malden Road Baths and the photos (three during construction, three of the completed building and one of the builders themselves) and an opening day programme that he unearthed I have submitted to the Facebook Sutton Borough Memories site on his
I wonder if the formwork to the left hand arch is because of spalling of the concrete. Perhaps exposing the reinforcement after fifty years, and therefore needing major work to repair it. Or because it’s an entirely new pool to replace an older one? The scaffolding could just as easily be for major repair work or for entirely new building work.
Shows the stepped diving board which, I understand, was removed in the late 1960s. Also note the double doors in the left corner are set on the diagonal and lead to the entrance hall. To the left of the picture, on the other side of the wall of changing cubicles with a balcony above, was the corridor to the big pool. On the other side of the corridor was the open air pool which also had its double doors set on the diagonal from the entrance hall.
The view along the balcony is looking towards the shallow end. Note the way in which there are small arches, to allow the balcony to be continuous, through the main arches that form the basic structure.
I shall be most interested to get clarification on the exact extent of the 1928 construction work and will publish it here, if I get it, in due course.
Two pictures of the main pool