Mitcham Baths Hall opened on Monday 28th November, 1932. It was built on the site of George Shepherd & Son, coach builders, on London Road. It was called the Baths Hall as it was open for swimming during the summer months and as a hall during the winter.
From the 1932 Medical Officer of Health Report for Mitcham, from the Wellcome Trust
The new Swimming Bath was opened by the Chairman of the Council on November 28th, 1932.
The Surveyor has kindly supplied the following data :—
Construction was commenced in June, 1931, and was carried out as an unemployment relief scheme.
The building is used as a public hall in the winter months, with movable stage and dance floor over the swimming pool.
The swimming pool, 100 ft. by 36 ft., has a depth of water varying from 3 ft. to 8 ft. 6 in., with a diving area 20 ft. long.
The floor of the pool is covered with terrazzo and the sides lined with white glazed interlocking bricks.
The dressing rooms are between the entrance hall and bath hall, with showers and foot baths adjacent, ensuring that bathers use the shower and foot baths before entering the pool.
The filtration plant comprising three vertical pressure filters, giving a maximum rate of 200 gallons per square foot per hour and capable of filtering the whole of the 126,000 gallons in four hours. Aeration is carried out both before and after filtration. Chlorination is by the automatic liquid gas type to Ministry of Health recommendations of 0.2 to 0.5 parts per 1,000,000.
Washing accommodation comprises :—
Eight slipper baths and one needle spray bath for men.
Six slipper baths and one needle spray bath for women.
Space has been allowed for future extensions.
The cost, exclusive of the land and furnishing, was £27,350.
The electric lighting was supplied by Ward Electrical Co. Ltd. who submitted the lowest tender of £506 7s.
The terrazo paving was supplied by the Camden Tile and Mosaic Co. who submitted a tender of £1480 8s. 6d.
Source: 1931 Mitcham Urban District Council minutes, pages 414 and 445, volume 17.
The first superintendent of the Baths Hall was Mr. C. P. WALKER, according to the Mitcham News & Mercury on 3rd February, 1933. He is quoted as having been previously at Hull.
Baths are 21 years old
MITCHAM BATHS “come of age” tomorrow (Saturday).
Since they were opened on November 28, 1932, nearly one and a half million people have used the Baths for swimming alone.
The Baths Hall has had an eventful life since it was opened by Mr. W. Carlton. J.P., chairman of the Urban District Council.
The first swimming season lasted only a week, during which all swimming was free. During the first full season in 1933 there were over 102,000 bathers.
Swimmers came in their hundred thousands until 1939. In the first season of the war only 43,000 came to bathe.
“When the land mine at Fair Green shattered the glass in the hall skylights and the baths were closed, it seemed as if all the work done for swimming in Mitcham had been in vain.
In 1941 there was a further blow when part of the hall was destroyed by bombs.
But the Baths took on a new lease of life during the war. They became a rest centre for people who had lost their homes in bombing.
Old people from the Garden Village were among those who moved in, bringing their cats, dogs and canaries, while an unexploded bomb at the village was put out of action.
The swimming pool reopened in May, 1946. Numbers in that first season were only half the pre-war average.
Now things are back to normal. Attendances are once more on the 100,000 mark. More and more schools are using the Baths, and the number of swimming galas held there is well up on pre-war figures.
Children can still swim for 2d. a time, as they could 21 years ago. Only this season were the charges for adults increased sightly.
List of Newspaper Articles
|03/02/1933||(Boxing) Exhibition Contests at the new Baths||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|22/07/1933||A tour of inspection by Labour Party Members||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||7|
|29/07/1933||The success of the new Baths||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||5|
|30/09/1933||Baths Committee’s scheme for another Bath||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||3|
|02/12/1933||All-in wrestling banned||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||7|
|03/12/1937||Indoor bowling rink opened||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|03/12/1937||Indoor bowls for Mitcham||Mitcham News and Mercury||3|
|18/05/1939||Foam baths for Mitcham||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||14|
|05/01/1951||New cycle parking blocks||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||1|
|12/04/1951||Foam baths re-opened||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|28/05/1953||Slot machines for hair drying||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||5|
|02/07/1953||Record for Baths||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|08/04/1954||Preparation for swimming season||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|06/10/1955||Boom year at Mitcham Baths||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||3|
|06/10/1955||Proposal re longer hours||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|26/04/1956||Two enthusiasts celebrate||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|27/04/1956||First dips of the season||Mitcham News and Mercury||8|
|03/05/1956||Baths Hall bookings hit by T.V.?||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||10|
|04/05/1956||Few people hire Baths Hall||Mitcham News and Mercury||9|
|21/06/1956||Too wet to go to the Baths?||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||20|
|07/12/1956||Local bathers toughening up||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||7|
|07/12/1956||Swimmers getting tough||Mitcham News and Mercury||9|
|15/03/1957||A risky plunge at the Baths||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|05/07/1957||Record attendance||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|02/08/1957||No chance for a high diver||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|29/05/1958||Clubs denied swim?||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|10/10/1958||Baths get a £1,000 facelift||Mitcham News and Mercury||9|
|15/10/1959||Baths record||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||2|
|22/10/1959||Special bus to Baths too expensive||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|09/12/1960||Poor swim season – weather blamed||Mitcham News and Mercury||7|
|23/02/1961||New Baths Chief||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|24/02/1961||Baths Superintendent is retiring in May||Mitcham News and Mercury||8|
|02/03/1961||No house for Baths official||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|30/03/1961||Baths schedule in hot water||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|21/04/1961||Mitcham Baths Superintendent||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||1|
|03/08/1961||Eskimo rolling in Baths||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||8|
|25/01/1962||£9000 plan to re-equip Baths in three years||Mitcham News and Mercury||9|
|02/11/1962||Council to revise their charges||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|24/01/1963||£9000 plan to re-equip Baths in three years||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|27/02/1963||Swimming pool for estate||Mitcham News and Mercury||9|
|02/01/1964||A second pool for Borough?||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|14/01/1964||Estate to plead for pool||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|29/05/1964||Swimming baths? Lets build them||Mitcham News and Mercury||11|
|27/11/1964||Swim pool – no move yet||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|24/12/1964||£350000 for new swim pool||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|24/12/1964||New pool would cost £350000||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|31/12/1964||Negative attitude to swimming pool||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|19/02/1965||Scheme for Mitcham winter swimming pool||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||5|
|19/02/1965||Tenants ask for swim pool||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|30/07/1965||Conditions at Mitcham criticised||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|09/09/1965||Loan needed||Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser||1|
|17/09/1965||New boiler for Mitcham Baths||Mitcham and Morden Guardian||6|
|24/09/1965||Investigation team clears the Baths Manager||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|20/12/1968||New boiler for Mitcham Baths||Mitcham News and Mercury||11|
|12/12/1969||Swim to cost 25 per cent more||Mitcham News and Mercury||13|
|18/12/1970||Archery at the Baths||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|11/04/1974||Mayor to open new Training Pool||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|08/08/1975||Taking the plunge as heatwave soars||Mitcham News and Mercury||11|
|09/07/1976||Quick dips only at the Baths||Mitcham News and Mercury||2|
|20/01/1978||Neighbours slam new pool nuisance fears||Mitcham News and Mercury||49|
|27/01/1978||Longer dips in pools bathers told||Mitcham News and Mercury||51|
|03/02/1978||Chlorine firm blacklists Merton Swimming Baths||Mitcham News and Mercury||5|
|06/06/1980||Baths will close||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|13/06/1980||New pool planned||Mitcham News and Mercury||1|
|18/07/1980||Residents say no to new swimming pool||Mitcham News and Mercury||3|
|30/10/1980||Petition to save swimming pool||Mitcham News and Mercury||64|
|13/02/1981||Baths will close||Mitcham News and Mercury||5|
From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 3rd February, 1950:
The outside of Mitcham Baths is to be painted at a cost of £349 8s. 2d. The tender of Messrs. Cannon and Roaf was the lowest. The job will take six weeks.
Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.