Tag Archives: swimming baths

1961 Baths Superintendent retires

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 24th February, 1961

For the past 28 years Mr Charles Paterson Walker has been keeping 126,000 gallons of water clean and at the right temperature.

Next May he won’t have to bother any more. He is retiring from the post of Mitcham Baths Superintendent.

But 65-year-old Mr Walker will not be forgotten when he leaves. By the end of the month he hopes to finish his “diary of events,” telling the story of the Baths.

At his Epsom home he told me this week: “There have been so many events there over the years I thought I would keep a record.”

Mr Walker himself has led an interesting life. Before he took over the Baths in 1929 he was a marine engineer on a luxury shipping line. He left because of the big slump at the time.

During the last war his main task was keeping about 150,000 officers and men and 500 Wrens warm. He was in charge of the heating at a Fleet Air Arm training base in Lancashire.

Any plans for his retirement?
“I am just going to take things easy,” he said.

1933 : Second boxing exhibition

Mitcham News & Mercury, 10th February, 1933, page 2.


Large Attendance at the Baths


…. (preamble omitted) …

The opening contest of the evening was between Boy BINKS, of Streatham, and Sammy SMITH, of Mitcham, over six rounds. It was a hard-hitting match, with both men swinging wildly at each other. The first three mrounds went in favour of Binks, who was more aggressive than Smith. However, the tide turned in favour of Smith during the remaining rounds; he had his man down for a count of eight from a stinging right when the bell stopped the fifth round. The sixth round found Smith attacking most. The referee’s decision was a draw.

Scheduled for eight rounds, the next bout lasted for two. Danny GARDINER, of westbourne Park, outboxed his opponent, Jack DAY, of Kingston. Day went to the boards for a count in the first round, but he fought back strongly, to send his man down for a count, the bell saving him.

In the second round Day was knocked off his feet on two occasions, and the referee intervened in favour of Gardiner, Day sustaining a cut eye.

The next bout was a comic event, Albert LLOYD, of Mitcham, drew with Bill HUNTLEY, of Tooting, over six rounds. Both men evoked much laughter from the spectators by their funny tactics, and when they started a fight of their own between the rounds cheers greeted their efforts. Each man in turn went down for a count, and it seemed quite possible that the fight would end with both men on the boards, but it actually finished with both men still wanting to fight on.


The big event of the evening was between Kid SOCKS, of Bethnal Green, and Sandy McEWAN, of Glasgow. The fight lasted for the full fifteen rounds, and Socks gave an almost perfect exhibition of how to use the left hand. McEwan, on the other hand, was a hard-punching, two-handed fighter.

For the majority of the bout the fighters were well-matched, McEwan striving hard to batter the elusive Socks. In the end it was a case of those pitiless left leads leaving their mark, and the fourteenth round found McEwan weakening, the last two rounds going definitely in Socks’ favour.

The referee awarded the match to Socks on points, but it was a very close fight.

Harry TAYLOR, of Tooting, was unlucky to be knocked out by Bill LEE, of St. James’s, in the second round of their six-round bout, for with his hard swinging rights and lefts he had his man groggy in the first round. His carelessness in the second led to his undoing, for, leavung himself unguarded while he sought to put his man out, he himself caught a right on the jaw, which finished the bout.

The last fight of the evening, over six rounds, between Jack ROBERTS, of wimbledon, and Tom RADFORD, of Tooting, was a battle royal of hectic youth, Both boys flung discretion to the winds and fought in an alarmingly wild manner. Radford was down for a count of eight in the second round, and the bell saved him from the full count at the end of the third round, when a rather low swing from Roberts caused him considerable distress. In the fifth round Radford took the full count and Roberts was awarded the fight.

The evening was ably conducted by Mr. Harry Brevett, late M.C. at the N.S.C., Albert Hall and Olympia, while Johnny Curley as the referee acquitted himself in a praiseworthy manner. The timekeeper was Mr. Hunter, and seconds Arthur Goodwin and Archie Watson.

1933 : First boxing show at the Baths Hall

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 3rd February, 1933, page 1


Exhibition Contests at the New Baths

A large number of Mitcham Councillors witnessed the first boxing exhibition to be held at the new Mitcham Baths, which took place on Monday evening. Before the boxing began the public who were present were told that they had the matter in their own hands as to whether regular boxing shows should be given at the baths or not, and the general verdict of the councillors was that the crowd had behaved splendidly.

“No complaints” was the general verdict of the Mitcham councillors after they had witnessed the first public boxing exhibition in the new Baths Hall on Monday evening.

The hall had been let to Mr. Meltonville for a boxing entertainment on the understanding that if a satisfactory report after the first occasion was received, the baths superintendent should be authorised to accept bookings from Mr. Meltonville every Monday during February.

The promoter, anxious to convince the Council of his integrity and the orderliness of his entertainment, invited the whole of the members of the Council to witness the exhibition for themselves. Most of the councillors availed themselves of the privilege, and there were present during the evening Couns. S. L. Gaston, J.P. (chairman of the Baths Committee), E. J. D. Field, H. F. Cusden, W. Dalton, J. S. Abraham, A. E. D. Clark, W. Curtis Wakeford, H. H. Dance, S. W. Duckett, T. A. East, S. J. Humphries, L. F. Rolls, S. R. Self, W. J. Blandford, G. W. Cole, J. Brewer, R. A. Brodie and Mr. Riley Schofield (surveyor and engineer).

Ring-side tickets were presented to the councillors, but the majority preferred not to be too prominent, and they sat on the platform at the far end of the hall.


Over a thousand spectators were present, and they behaved splendidly, very little partisanship being evinced during any of the contests. There was a fair sprinkling of the fair sex.

At the outset, the announcer appealed to the assembly to give fair play to the boxers and to behave like respectable citizens. “If you do that,” he added, “the promoter will give you full value for your money, and a square deal in the way of tip-top boxers, and probably a few champions, and you will be able to have these exhibitions regularly. If you do not behave properly then it will mean shutting down.” The crowd cheered in agreement.

Six bouts were successfully carried through without the slightest hitch so far as the spectators were concerned. One or two substitutes had to be found for advertised boxers who failed to turn up. Otherwise the programme was observed to the letter, with capable officials on duty and a perfect ring.

Before the last contest started, Mr. J. Windsor stepped into the ring, and speaking on behalf of Mr. Meltonville and himself, said he must thank the assembly for the way in which they had behaved throughout the show. He hoped that in future shows they would conduct themselves in the same orderly fashion. “It remains in your hands,” Mr. Windsor added, “whether these shows are held. If you behave properly they will continue, and you will see some of the best boxing talent in the country. I want to pay tribute to the Mitcham Council. I have never come across a more beautiful hall than this baths hall. It is a credit to the Council and the ratepayers, and I trust you will do your best in keeping it nice and respectable.” (Loud cheers).


Coun. S. L. Gaston, J.P., chairman of the Baths Committee, said: “I have no complaints whatever. The conduct of the spectators has been quite good. Personally, I have seen nothing whatever to take exception to, and as far as I can see, the shows will be permitted to go on. If the crowd always behaves in the same orderly manner nothing can be said against them. They were as good as gold to-night, and I hope they will always be the same. For a first attempt the exhibition was satisfactory in every way.”

Coun. Harry Cusden said: “You could have not got a better audience in the Central Hall, Tooting Broadway, at a Brotherhood meeting. I have seen many scraps at the Ring and the National Sporting Club, but never have I sat with a more orderly lot of chaps. I got among the mob because I wanted to see the scrapping, and I must say I neither saw nor heard anything to object to. Of course, there were some of “the lads of the village” present and their language would not appeal to everybody, but is is their ordinary vocabulary, and you have to put up with it. I heard several comment favourably on the hall; in fact, they appeared astounded, and I think they appreciated the nice surroundings, and were inclined to make their conduct fit in with them. In all my experience of boxing crowds, I am certain this was the best. They were a credit to themselves and everybody concerned. If they keep it up nobody can object to the assemblies and the shows.”

Coun. W. Dalton was rather reticent. He said: “I have seen nothing I can object to in the behaviour of the crowd.”

Coun. S. W. Duckett said: “I had an open mind when I came. I am leaving with the conviction that a boxing crowd can behave.”

Coun. Cole had previously asserted that if there was a demand for boxing displays in Mitcham the people had a right to say whether they wanted boxing or dancing in the hall. He sat with Coun. Cusden in the gallery watching the show, and expressed himself as perfectly satisfied.

Couns. Field and Brewer openly confessed that boxing displays did not appeal to them.

Mr. C. P. Walker, the baths superintendent, told one of our reporters next morning: “I don’t remember a more orderly boxing crowd. At Hull it was much different, but, of course, it is expected and the crowd don’t disappoint you. From my contact with the crowd here, I feel they were impressed by the appeal made to them from the ring at the start, and they realised that no nonsense would be tolerated. I think also that they do not want to jeopardise future shows. I heard scores of spectators say they had never seen a nicer hall, and it was a pity if anything was done to spoil it. I can say that no damage whatever was committed, and the refuse left behind was nothing to complain about. There were just two empty pint beer bottles and the usual refuse to be seen the morning afer any cinema show. Not a single chair was any the worse, though a few were used for standing on at the back. However, when the attendants spoke to the offenders they were quite reasonable and readily did as they were asked. I regard the crowd as quite normal, and personally, I have no complaint to make of any description.”

The boxing contests were quite exciting, though scarcely attaining the standard anticipated. Four bouts over twelve rounds figured on the programme, but only one of these travelled the full distance.

Eddie MANNING (Tooting) scored a popular victory over Harry JENKINS (Camden Town), who retired at the end of the eighth round with a badly damaged eye.

Patsy FLYNN (Blackfriars) did not experience much trouble in disposing of Alf. WATTS (Edmonton), who was knocked out in the second round.

Johnny HARRIS (King’s Cross) beat Herbie FRASER (Westbourne Park), the referee intervening at the end of the seventh round.

Jack ELLIS (Bermondsey) had to fight hard before outpointing Sonnie DOKE (Battersea). This was easily the best encounter of the evening, and as “the old un” stood up and exchanged blow for blow with his younger adversary, the crowd cheered vociferously, Doke visibly tired with his punishment, but he managed to keep going, and made a gallant toe-to-toe fight of it. At the finish the applause was equal and the liberal shower of coppers in the ring showed the bout had been well appreciated.

In a six-round bout, Sonny SMITH (Mitcham) beat “Young” BRUMMY (Blackfriars) on points, and Harry TAYLOR (Tooting) knocked out Jack ROBERTS (Wimbledon) in the fourth round of the concluding bout.

1935 : Boxing at Mitcham Baths

From the Mitcham Herald, 20th December, 1935

Bad Luck for Local Men.

Local boxers met with bad luck in their contests at Mitcham Baths on
Monday night, at a tournament in aid of the Wimbledon and Mitcham Poor Children’s Outing Fund.

Butcher Clements, a Morden welter-weight, appeared to be well ahead on points when his contest with Johnny Rust, of South Africa,was stopped by the referee, because Clements had sustained a cut eye, at the end of the third round. Clements had done nearly all the attacking and had forced Rust to fight almost entirely on the defensive. Rust was shaken by a hard right to the stomach, and again by a left swing to the head. In the third round, however, Rust landed an uppercut during a clinch and Clements’ eye was cut.

Jack Bowdery, of Carshalton, missed with a left lead, and was knocked out in the first round by Charlie GORY, of Mitcham. Bowdery made a game effort to rise, but just failed to beat the count.

Jacky Roberts, of Tooting, created a surprise by knocking out Al Roy, of Newcastle, with a body blow in the fifth round.

Over six rounds, Johnny Collier, of Battersea, and Micky Quinn, of Ireland, fought a draw, and Harry Taylor (Tooting) knocked out Fred Dyer (Shepherds Bush) in the second round.

1936 : Boxing at Mitcham Baths

From the Mitcham Herald, 13th November, 1936


In aid of the Wimbledon and Mitcham Poor Children’s Outing Fund, a boxing tournament was held at Mitcham Baths on Monday.

Fred King (Carshalton) was to have fought Bert Francis (Woolwich) over ten rounds, but Francis was found to be well over a stone the heavier, and King declined to meet him. Instead, he fought Harry Taylor (Tooting), whom he knocked out in the second round. King had plaster over both eyebrows.
In a ten-rounds middle weight contest Pat Mulcahey (Croydon) was awarded
the decision on points over Fred Taylor (Canning Town).

Over six rounds, Young Waterman (Canning Town) outpointed Darkie Benito (Croydon); Tony Smith (Canning Town) outpointed Jack WILLIS (Mitcham); and Freddie LYONS (Mitcham) fought a draw with Jimmy Kelly (Walworth).

Swimming Baths

Built on the site of George Shepherd & Son, coach builders, on London Road.

Mitcham Baths edited

Possibly 1970s

1932 Baths Hall

1932 Baths Hall

1932 swimming pool

1932 swimming pool

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 spray bath for men.
Six slipper baths and one 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.

List of Newspaper Stories

Date Headline Newspaper Page
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.