King Alfred Baths above. Brighton Area Libraries – Helen Catt (1994)
Nearing completion in 1939, these new baths on the Esplanade replaced the SS Swimming Baths West Road “the biggest sea water baths ever ” in Brighton.
The baths were immediately requisitioned by the Royal Navy and named H.M.S. King Alfred…
The original H.M.S. King Alfred was a four funnelled cruiser of the Drake Class (armoured cruiser) and was the flagship of the China Station from 1905 – 1910
This historical start to the building saw the last passing- out certificates being awarded to Cadets during December 1945.
Polished floorboards covered the large bath and it served as a Recreation Room for the Cadets.
After the war ended, the building, following serving as the Naval Officers Training establishment, permission was granted to retain its name “King Alfred” .
The Baths were officially opened by Admiral Geoffrey Layton on August 3rd 1946.
There were large sun terraces and a licenced restaurant that served up to 250 diners. There was also a banqueting hall for 450 diners called the “Sussex Room”.
The pool had a National diving stage with 5 metres platform and 1 and 3 metre springboards.
International and National Championships were held in this pool and famous National and International stars, such as Lillian Preece, Jack and Bert Wardrop, Daphne Wilkinson, Helen Orr Gordon, Pauline Musgrove, and Angela Barnwell, to name a few, performed to their heights.
OUTCOME: The main Gala Bath and smaller pool was eventually floored over and is now used as a sports hall with corridors leading to a boxing hall, and gymnasium. The past restaurant/banqueting hall with flat roof open air dining is now a dance studio/ballroom.
Refurbishment and extensions have been built from the main pool area of the building towards the sea. The 6 airy long window are now bricked up . This area houses a leisure pool. The original King Alfred Baths is now the King Alfred Leisure Centre.
A very much changed building in this present day. A lovely streamlined architecturally pleasing building when first built, that lived up to its name. Do you agree?