A Short History of the Institute by Hugh Francis

An article by Mr. Hugh Francis National President of The Institute of Baths Management 1967 – 68. published in Baths Service (The Journal of the Institute of Baths Management) January to May 1968.

National President of The Institute of Baths Management 1967 – 68

Hugh Francis worked in the public baths service during a career which spanned many years and saw him employed by local authorities in Hawick, Renfrew, Falkirk, Dunbar, Barrow-in-Furness, Burnley, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Nottingham, where he retired from the post of General Manager, Baths and Laundries, in 1970.

He was the winner of the F R Botham Award in 1971 and presented many papers, at both branch and national level, and contributed many articles to the institute journal.

He was as the co-author of the Institutes report to the Royal Commission of Local Government Reorganisation and Staffing and the booklets Private Baths’, ‘Design Guide No 1 and the original ‘Student’s Manual’. The Hugh Francis Scholarship was instituted in 1993, and it is a fitting tribute that his name be commemorated in the future of the institute’s existence.


A Short History of The Institute

The idea of this short history arose through reading that present-day trade unionists have no idea of what conditions were like for their fathers and grandfathers and that they accept all the good things of life as a right or as if they had always been there. It occurred to me that present-day members of our Institute know nothing of earlier days and accept all that it does without thought.

Before the days of the Institute most men in charge of Baths knew nothing of what happened in other Baths. Any improvements they carried out would, in all likelihood, be kept to themselves and not shared. Meetings of men in charge of Baths were unknown.

Of course, there were many things against their getting together. Life was not as it is today: travel was not so easy, although train services were perhaps better, buses were not so common – certainly not long distance ones -and motor cars were owned only by the well-to-do. The use of the telephone was not general, indeed some Baths had to wait many years before a telephone was installed. Technical journals were not numerous so with all this, plus very low salaries and long hours of work, it is perhaps not surprising that there was no organisation for men in charge of Baths. It is against a background such as this that one has to visualise the formation of the Institute.

Nevertheless, some men in charge of Baths had talked and dreamed about forming an association for about twenty years before it was formed.

At the 1946 annual conference the background to the formation of the Institute was well described by the late H. R. Austin, for many years General Secretary of the National Association of Baths Superintendents, as it was originally known. He said:

‘With … Baths that were built from 1878 onwards, it became obvious that if you had a swimming bath you must have a man who could swim to take charge of it. At that time, swimmers were not particularly numerous, so that a choice of a man in those days was probably far less wide than it is now.

‘I regard that period more or less as the dark days and for two reasons in particular. First, it was about that time that the system of the joint appointment was invented. When these swimming baths were opened, they were usually opened for men, but there were certain times when the swimming bath was reserved for the sole use of ladies. Such a thing as mixed bathing was not, of course, even dreamed of at that time. So the arrangement was that a man and his wife were appointed as superintendent and matron of the establishment-of course at a joint salary. How it was to be allocated, which of the two earned the salary, who earned the most and what proportion each should take, was probably left for them to decide. But, at any rate, this wretched system was instituted, and I grieve to say that, although I have fought against it for over forty years, in some few places the system is still in existence of a joint appointment of superintendent and matron at so much or so little per year. I could descant on this subject of the joint appointment and I could give you a number of reasons why this is not only obsolete but that it is bad for the man; or for the woman; inevitably worse for the children, if there are any children; and ultimately no good for the local authority employing these people….

‘The next consideration with regard to this dark age to which I have referred was that of hours of duty. It was then one of the usual conditions of a bath superintendent that he should be on duty at all times when the baths were opened ; and at that time, at any rate when I first commenced, the hours of opening were from 6 a.m. till 9 p.m. after which the bath was let to a club for its exclusive use for another hour ; and then the operation of emptying and filling the bath commenced. So that if he was going to see the bath emptied and nicely cleaned out, the superintendent usually got finished about midnight. After the beginning of this century there was a very considerable amount of bath buildings, but these baths were of a more ambitious character. They included a great deal of engineering plant, and it became obvious to local authorities that the man they would appoint to look after these establishments must have some qualification other than that of being able to swim. Therefore, there began to become into the vocation (shall I call it?) of Bath Superintendent a considerable number of engineers and men of business in the sense-men capable of managing a large establishment and a considerable number of men on the staff.’

The Faltering Start of NABS (National Association of Bath Superintendents)

After two unsuccessful attempts to form an association, in August 1920, a circular letter addressed by Mr. J. H. T. Jowett (Ealing) to the baths superintendents in London obtained twenty-seven favourable replies. Of those in favour of the formation of an organisation for baths superintendents, eighteen attended a meeting on 6th December, 1920. Mr. F. A. Burch (Islington) was elected chairman of the meeting, and after a discussion, during which nearly all present spoke, it was unanimously resolved ` that an Association of Bath Superintendents be formed’. Rules were prepared and adopted at the first general meeting held on 20th January, 1921, at Pitfield Street Baths, Shoreditch, by permission of the Baths Committee, and Mr Burch was elected the first president, Mr. Richardson vice-president, and Mr. Hope hon. secretary and treasurer. An executive committee and hon. auditors were also elected. At the first executive meeting the President was appointed to represent the Association on the joint Consultative Committee of the NALGO. He was also appointed to be the delegate at the NALGO conference and it was decided at this meeting to extend the sphere of the Association to the whole of the United Kingdom.

At a meeting on 15th December 1921, the Hon. Secretary reported that as a result of a circular letter to all bath superintendents in the United Kingdom, nearly 600 in number, four replies had been received. They came from Mr. Swarbrick of Blackpool, Mr. Mainprize of Derby, Mr. Tootell of Burnley and Mr. Wilson of Swinton; Mr. Swarbrick attended the meeting.

The report by the President of the meeting of the NALGO Co-ordination Sub-Committee showed that the scale of salaries which had been submitted by the Association was the only one which gave entire satisfaction and it was recommended to other Societies as a model to work upon. This was particularly gratifying as ours was the youngest association affiliated to the NALGO. At the end of the first year the number of members was thirty-seven.

On several occasions the executives made representations to municipal authorities with respect to advertisements of posts as Bath Superintendent at salaries below the normal scale and in some cases succeeded in obtaining a favourable revision of the salary offered.

At the A.G.M. held in March 1922, there was a change in the office bearers, Mr. Richardson was elected president but Mr. Hope remained hon. secretary and treasurer. The provisions of the Local Government and Other Officers Superannuation Bill were considered and a sub-committee was appointed to deal with the matter and the Association asked NALGO to use their best endeavours to make the Bill a compulsory one. During that year, too, the question of instituting an examination scheme for Bath Superintendents was dealt with.

Mr. Baker was elected president in 1923 and Mr. Hope became vice-president with Mr J. H. T. Jowett as hon. secretary and this position was separated from that of hon. treasurer ; previously, as already indicated, one man had held the joint position of secretary and treasurer. Mr J. H. Derbyshire was appointed treasurer. In 1923 the question of filtration and purification of bath water was discussed on several occasions, as already indicated most baths were still on the ‘fill and empty’ system and Mr. Burch took a leading part in the possibilities of filtration.

It was in 1923 that a further invitation to all superintendents in England and Wales, 594 in all, resulted in twenty new members joining the Association making a total of fifty-nine. It is interesting to note that all the superintendents in Leeds joined the Association and Mr Sowary, who was in charge of the Leeds Department, asked for permission to arrange a meeting at Leeds of the members in the north of England with a view to forming a northern branch. This is the first mention of branches in the Association.

The meeting at Leeds was held on 27th March, the President and the Hon. Secretary having been invited to attend and address the members. Held at Leeds Town Hall, it was well attended and the members were welcomed by Councillor Wilkinson, Chairman of the Properties Committee, who hoped that the Association would continue to progress. The meeting resulted in the inauguration of the Northern District Branch of the Association. Twenty-seven members were transferred to it from the parent body. Mr. Sowary was elected first Branch president and Mr. Swarbrick, vice-president. Meetings of the Northern Branch were successfully held at Blackpool, Sheffield and Nottingham. The last named town was later transferred to the Midland Branch upon its formation.

An important step was the publishing of the report on ‘Water in Public Baths’ and a copy was sent to every superintendent in England, and Wales and copies also supplied to many municipal and other bodies at their request. The report was the result of much deliberation and discussion at meetings and it was recorded that

‘it is satisfactory to be able to record that it has received very little adverse criticism’. The Minister of Health was asked to approve the general adoption of filtration in swimming baths. As Mr Austin later put it ‘this small band gave their attention in those first four years very closely and very earnestly to the consideration of the question of the improvement of the condition of the water in swimming baths and when we were only five years old, a young unheard of Association, we had the temerity to present a Report to the Ministry of Health, asking that they would approve the adoption of filtration and purification as a general principle. If the Association had never done anything else, I think that work would have given good reason for its foundation and existence!

But it did not stop there: we have made other suggestions. It was this Association, which first advocated the removal of the dressing boxes, with all the attendant disadvantages, from the surround of the swimming bath to a compartment outside.

In his report in 1926, the Secretary stated, ‘it is interesting to note that the Scottish Association have communicated with us several times and they, as well as us, are desirous of further interchange of papers and visits. They have meetings and papers read and very interesting gatherings and I am now awaiting the report of their A.G.M. and hope to see the Scottish Association represented at the next conference.’ This is the first mention of any activity north of the border but it is known that there was an Association in Scotland, with Mr R.A. Murray, who was in charge of the Calder Street Baths, Glasgow, as secretary. Based mainly on the Glasgow district, the members met socially as well as for business purposes; One lecture given on 21st November 1925, was entitled ‘The Salmon, Its Life, Methods of Capturing by Net’. This was given by Mr. Colin Campbell, Superintendent of Dunfermline Baths, who was President of the Association on the first occasion the conference, was held in Scotland at Edinburgh in 1936. The Scots also met with their ladies and engaged in games of whist and an annual dinner was held on 3rd December, 1927, at which members and gentlemen friends attended. In the Scottish syllabus for 1927/28 when Mr. Hugh Francis, Superintendent of Victory Baths, Renfrew, was president, there was a report ‘On the Conference at Bradford of the English Baths Superintendents Association’. This was given by Mr David Brown of Hamilton. (father of David Brown who became National President in 1952-3) and Mr Ronald R. McGibbon of Paisley, later of Southampton. In 1926 the Secretary suggested the formation of a Midland Branch.

First Conference

The first conference was held at Leeds in 1925. The President being H. R. Austin, Beckenham, and he gave the first paper entitled ‘Public Baths and Public Health’. The second conference was held in 1926 at Nottingham and during the course of the proceedings; Alderman Pendleton of Nottingham suggested that the name of the ‘Association’ should be altered to ‘Institute’. The change advocated in 1926 took place in 1962.

During 1927 the Minister of Health restricted attendances of delegates at the Association’s conference to towns with a population of not less than fifty thousand and a protest was sent to the Minister on the matter.

Members are aware that the Institute now has its own secretariat formed in 1965 but such a course was advocated by Councillor E. Purser of Nottingham in 1928 who said the Association ought to consider the appointment of a permanent official who should be paid by extra subscriptions to be paid by various local authorities. Although the final part of the suggestion has not been wholly met with, nevertheless local authorities are now able to affiliate, and their subscriptions do help to meet the overall costs.

The 1929 conference report, gives the first recorded mention of a Midland Branch, with W. H. Hare of Mansfield as president, J. Marson of Nottingham as vice-president, and F. Fletcher of Nottingham as hon. secretary and treasurer. The hopes of the Secretary in 1926 that the Scottish Association would attend conference were realised, as already indicated, at the 1927 conference when two Scots attended. By 1929 the number had risen to ten.

The Southern. Branch was formed in January 1930 with. F M. F. Hampton, Battersea, as president and in the conference report for the following year, 1931, the Scottish Branch was mentioned for the first time, all previous mentions had been of the Scottish Association. This was the year of the Association being incorporated and a great deal of work was necessary in compiling the articles and bye-laws. The Association had the assistance of Mr Emrys Evans as their hon. solicitor and he was responsible for piloting the Association through all the work connected with the drafting of the Articles of the Association and their submission to the Board of Trade. Mr. Evans received a solid silver salver as a mark of the Association’s appreciation at a dinner held at the Midland Hotel, London, on the 28th February, 1931, when Mr Burch presided over a gathering numbering 120. Mr. Evans, at that time, was nearing departure from London to Wallasey as town clerk.

During this year, too, the first visit by a foreign delegate to the conference took place, the gentleman being Mr. Ernst Hoppenberg of Bremen who gave a paper entitled ‘Public Baths in Germany’. The year of inauguration of the Association was an important year and as a mark of appreciation of the services which had been given by Mr. Burch since the formation of the Association, he was elected president for the second time, having been the first President of the Association ten years earlier. During the year on one occasion Mr. Burch said: ‘Whatever I may have found the opportunity of doing for the Association in the past was done not for what I could get out of it, but for what I could put into it, and that is what I hope to get all the young members of the Association to realise to the full.’ No doubt this laudable sentiment is still echoed by a number of senior members of the Institute.

The Advisory Committee, which has been of inestimable value to many local authorities, architects, engineers and surveyors in regard to planning particularly, but indeed to nearly all aspects of Baths, was set up in 1931 and has functioned ever since. That year also saw the first annual report printed for the A.G.M. which was held on 26th February, 1932. It is interesting to note that the Annual General Meetings were all held in London in the early months of the year until 1937 when it was arranged that the A.G.M. should be held on the night before the official start of the conference the following morning. This was at Scarborough and there was such an increase in the attendance and such interest that the A.G.M. has been arranged to coincide with the conference ever since, except of course during the war.

In view of the many complaints which have arisen in recent years regarding the fact that no item entitled ‘any other business’ appears on the, agenda of the A.G.M. it is interesting to note that the agenda in 1931 included, ` Report of Conference Arrangements’, `Questions by Members’, as well as ‘Any other competent Business’. The report stated ‘Four Branches have been established and the area of activity of each defined.

The question of bye-laws for the Branches is under consideration.’ At that time the Council had sixteen members and council members defrayed their own expenses. Later the members had their travelling expenses defrayed and later still subsistence allowance in addition. An interesting insight in to the administration of the Association at that time was that members could be nominated for the council, in writing, up to a week before the Annual General Meeting. Because of this, voting would not be on a national scale but confined to those present at the meeting. The conference dinner ticket cost 10s. 6d. – an interesting side light of expenditure, as the conference dinner in 1966 cost 30s., although the cost of living has risen much more than three times in the interval. The total expenditure for 1931 was £446 which compares with the 1965 total of £9,229. The total assets in 1931 was £168. Members’ subscriptions then totalled £176, compared with £2,358 in 1955. In 1932 the conference was held at Manchester in the Town Hall and this was the first occasion at which a trade exhibition was arranged, the Conference Hall and the Exhibition Hall being half-a-mile apart. The exhibition was held in the City Hall and about one-fifth of the floor space was taken up by displays by Corporation Departments, the Baths, Transport, Parks, Gas and Cleansing all being represented. The publication Baths and Bath Engineering commenced in 1934. There had been earlier attempts at such a publication in 1931 when a leaflet entitled Baths was published.

Professionals Qualified By Examination

1934 also saw the first examination for membership of the Association. This was held in Sheffield and candidates travelled from London, Manchester, Nottingham and Falkirk. It was also recorded during this year that a London Borough had adopted and put into operation an apprenticeship scheme and it is thought that the borough was Holborn and that the member of the Association concerned in the management was the late Emil Whittle. During that year the Ministry of Health invited the Association to submit evidence with respect to bath buildings and equipment and a memorandum was submitted in September in the preparation of which each Branch had taken part. Vacant appointments continued to require attention and representations were made to councils which had offered unduly low salaries: the conditions of joint appointments to which reference has already been made also called for protest, success being recorded in at least one case. The Treasurer’s book had, up to this year, been audited by two members of the Association, but Messrs. G. & A. Warnett & Sons, Accountants, audited the books in 1934 and the association with this firm has continued ever since. It was during this year too, that an entrance fee was recommended as being payable by all members elected.

A notice of motion for the 1935 A.G.M. will be of interest. This asked that annual subscriptions should be as follows:

Salary plus Emoluments and Allowance

Annual Subscription

£150 or less

£0. 10s. 6d.

Over    £150 to £250

£0. 15s. 0d.

Over    £250 to £350

£1. 1s. 0d.

Over    £350 to £500

£1. 11s. 6d.

Over    £500        

£2.  2s. 0d.

The first overseas member is recorded as having joined in 1935. The examination of the water in swimming baths engaged the attention of the Southern Branch and a report which had been prepared by that Branch was adopted by the Association. The articles of Association were revised that year and sent to the Board of Trade in 1936. During 1936, there were fifty-five candidates for examination held at seven centres and a delegation from Oslo visited Baths in London, Liverpool and Wallasey and was guided by Association members. Classes were organised in the Southern Branch on chemical and bacteriological examination of swimming bath water, and a similar class was organised in Manchester just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The formation of a library at the instigation of Mr. F.A. Burch took place in 1937 but did not meet with much support. During this year too, the establishment of the Benevolent Fund took place, and for this too Mr. Burch was responsible. To mark appreciation of his services a collection was made amongst members, but apart from receiving a book containing signatures of subscribers he would not accept anything and asked that money should go to start a Benevolent Fund.

In 1937 Lord Southwood presented a medal to the Association to be awarded annually for the best proposal submitted to the annual conference for improvement of the public baths service.

A model scale of salaries was published; this met with a mixed reception. The Council adopted standing orders for conduct of business and these were used at some Branch meetings.

Reference has already been made to the method of balloting for representation on the council and in 1938 there was held the first postal ballot for this purpose.

During 1938 Bath employees became included in the scheme for insurance against unemployment. Previously they had been designated as domestic servants and, as such, were ineligible for unemployment benefit. A paper dealing with this anomaly was presented at the 1937 conference by J.H. Hollingworth, Blackpool.

In the same year the Ministry of Health asked the Association for observations for their publication Purification of the Water of Swimming Baths and the International Union of Local Authorities published a general review of Baths in Great Britain which had been furnished by the Association.

A.E. Read, Greenwich, was awarded the Lord Southwood medal for his conference paper entitled ‘Swimming Baths as Halls’, H.R. Austin had been awarded the medal during the previous year for the many services he had rendered the Association.

The War Years

1939 saw the outbreak of the Second World War and because of this, a great amount of material which had been collected for the production of a book on Baths was used. The conference was held in May prior to the outbreak of the war when F.R. Botham was awarded the Southwood medal for a paper entitled ‘The Baths Service and the status of its Officers’. The medal was awarded on only one further occasion when it went to James Maguire of Glasgow. The presentation of the medal ceased on the death of Lord Southwood.

During the war examinations were held in 1940, 1942 and 1943. Baths Engineering ceased publication in April 1941, but the same year a Bulletin, largely the work of the then Secretary, H.R. Austin, and F.R. Botham, was published in October and at intervals thereafter up to and including April 1949, when Baths Service first appeared with the late L.F. James as hon. editor and published by Kelsey Blackman Ltd. Norman Tams was hon. editor during the period of his holding the post of Hon. General Secretary of the Institute from the death of Mr. James in 1963, until June 1965 when William Francis became editor. In January 1966 the association with Kelsey Blackman ceased and the Institute published Baths Service – W. Francis continuing as editor.

During the war soap rationing was necessary and the Association provided a scheme which was welcomed and approved by the appropriate ministry.

Probably because of the war and the difficulty in travelling, a local group was formed in Liverpool. This continued for some time but later became defunct. Groups were later formed; one in the North East, in 1947, which has continued since, and a South Wales and West Group in 1965. There had been an earlier South Wales Group but it did not have a long existence.

It is evident that despite the difficulties experienced during the war the work of the then Association continued, as in 1945 a memorandum was published dealing with school baths and a copy was issued to every member. During 1945 the Association took up the matter of the appointment at Liverpool, where it had been suggested that the Baths Department should be merged with the Water Department. In conjunction with the NALGO, the Association convinced the Liverpool authority not to proceed with this suggestion and there is no doubt, in view of the progress Liverpool Baths Department has made since and the prominent position it holds in Baths administration, that the decision then taken was a wise one and has been to the benefit of Liverpool.

In 1946, Mr. Austin retired as Secretary of the Association. He was succeeded in the secretaryship by Mr. James, who held the position for the following seventeen years. During Mr Austin’s service, the membership had grown from the original eighteen to close on five hundred. During Mr. James’ tenure of office whilst the membership did not have the same growth the finances increased tremendously; the assets for 1946 were £1,380 whilst for 1962, the last full year of Mr. James’ service, they were £19,309. As previously mentioned Norman Tams followed L. F. James as hon. secretary, a position he held until P. M. Cox became general secretary in 1966.

1946 also saw the first post-war conference which was held in London, for it was thought appropriate that the first post-war conference should be held in the heart of the British Empire. This is the only occasion on which the conference has been held in London. The examination syllabus was revised during 1946 in preparation for the following year’s examinations, and study circles were held in all branches: the South Wales and Western Group was formed. The following year, 1947, was the first occasion in which prizes were awarded to those obtaining highest marks in the examinations, and in the Associates’ examination, H. T. Hitchin, then of Bristol, obtained first place. Mr. Hitchin, of course, is now General Manager of the Baths and Laundries Department in Manchester. First place in the Students’ examination that year was obtained by W. Francis of Smethwick, who is now the editor of Baths Service. The Associate Certificate was approved by the Local Government Examination’s Board and by the National Joint Council in 1947, and placed on the list of examinations recognised for promotion. The North-East Group was formed in the same year and has survived and been very much alive ever since; previously this area of the country had not been very active in the affairs of the Association.

The following year found L. F. James occupying the position of president, and H. Leadbeater of Paddington was appointed hon. secretary for one year. This was more in name than in fact, as correspondence continued to be directed to Mr. James’s office and was dealt with there.

The first interchange of visits with colleagues in Holland took place in June 1948 when Messrs T. Hayhurst, Bury, L. F. James, Hackney, F. R. Botham, Manchester and H. Leadbeater, Paddington, were the official representatives from our Association, whilst M. M. Bowie, Glasgow, accompanied the party. In August the same year a party of eight from Holland paid a return visit calling at London, Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool. The contacts made then have continued ever since, and there have been few conferences held since at which delegates from Holland have not been present, indeed some are members of our Institute. 

1949 and 500 Members

The membership in 1949 topped 500 for the first time in the history of the Association. Baths Service appeared for the first time in June, and the publication which was so useful to students for many years Baths Management was published in May. This book was written at the request of the Council of the Association by John A. Davenport, who had been manager and engineer of the Liverpool Baths and Laundries Department for many years until his retirement in 1946; for his labours Mr. Davenport received £150 from the Association. The posters published by the Association which are now so familiar to members and which present an economic method of advertising were mentioned for the first time in 1949. Prior to this, however, many members had made use of the posters which were published in Leeds, and which were inaugurated by Charles Burgess, who was in charge of the Baths Department in that city from 1926 until he was succeeded by R. A. Ashton twenty years later.

A real step forward in the relationship between associations using public baths was made during this year also, when a liaison committee was formed between the Amateur Swimming Association, the Swimming Teachers’ Association and the National Association of Bath Superintendents. The Royal Life Saving Society was later added to their number. Past-President badges had ceased to be issued during the war, but these were re-introduced in 1950, and the following year there was a motion at the annual general meeting to change the name of the Association to the British Baths Association, but this was not successful.

An important innovation that year was the issue of the desk diary, which is now so familiar and useful to members.

Little of account occurred in 1952, but in 1953 the Articles of the Association were being revised. The building programme on baths and laundries was almost at a standstill, and expenditure allowed on swimming baths that year by the ministry was nil: for laundries and private baths the total amounted to £420,000. An indication of the financial affairs of the Association is provided by the fact that the balance topped £5,000 for the first time in its history. It is not generally known that the Association was very active in attempts to form an International Association of people interested in Baths, but in 1954, following visits from Bath representatives from Holland and Belgium at our conferences, the president, secretary and treasurer of our Association visited Belgium, Holland and West Germany. The president that year was T. H. McLellan of Birkenhead, the secretary and treasurer L. F. James and F. R. Botham respectively. There is no doubt their visit contributed largely to the friendly relationship which has existed between the Continental Bath managers and our own, but attempts to form the International Association at that time were unsuccessful.

The revised Articles which had been attended to the previous year were approved at the annual general meeting, and were then circulated to all members.

Controversial papers at the annual conference were given for the first time in 1955, when the case ‘for’ and ‘against’ were given in at least two papers. The first was entitled ‘That physiotherapy should be made available as a benefit under the National Health Service at public baths’, proposed by Dr. T. D. Culbert, Manchester. The case against was presented by Professor Andrew B. Semple, Medical Officer of Health, Liverpool. The other controversial paper, on laundries, was that given by Cyril F. Thatcher, Town Clerk of Fulham, whilst the case against was given by Ancliffe Prince. So successful were these papers that the voting results were sent to the Ministry, the Association of Municipal Corporations and to all Members of Parliament. The same format was continued the following year when the cases ‘for’ and ‘against’ the conversion of baths to halls formed part of the conference.

Standardised Salaries and a Crisis in Baths Building

Staffing of baths was as difficult in 1956 as it is today, and the Association made representations to the National Joint Council concerning the conditions of bath employees, with a view to improving wages. This resulted in a new designation of Pool Supervisor being added to the list of recognised employees. Whilst this was not all the Association had hoped for, it did help in some way to relieve the situation, and helped to have a more responsible type of employee engaged. At the same time the Association was not unmindful of the position of their own members, and a grading scheme on salaries was submitted to NALGO with a view to having these standardised throughout the country. Although the scheme was supported and fought for, over a period of several years, no concrete result was obtained. The clamp down on bath buildings continued, and a resolution from the conference to the Ministry of Health and Local Government deploring restrictions in the building of new baths was forwarded.

A model plant log sheet had been suggested by the Ministry of Health some years previously, and this was devised at Nottingham for the Association; it received the approval of the Ministry in 1958, and has become standard throughout the country. In that year, too, members’ annual subscriptions to the Association became allowable against Income Tax. Further representations were made via the Liaison Committee to the Minister of Town and Country Planning on the lack of facilities for bathing in the country.

The Association’s assets topped £10,000 for the first time in 1959, and a comparison of the balance sheets for the years 1921 and 1965 would, no doubt, prove of interest.

Balance Sheet





£39 18s. 0d.

£10,758 16s. 1d.


£28 11s. 9d.

£9,229   6s. 7d.


£I1  6s. 3d.

£28,289 14s. 1d.


Founded on the Shoulders of Giants

The membership in 1961 totalled 518 and a comparison of the membership in the early years may be of interest. At the first meeting in December 1921, 18 members attended; there were 31 members in 1921, 2 additional members in 1922, 26 additional in 1923, 45 additional in 1924, 33 additional in 1925, and 16 additional in 1926, with a total in 1926 of 153. The name of the Association was changed from the National Association of Baths Superintendents to the Institute of Baths Management in 1961, and in 1964 the Institute for the first time had its own offices and a start was made on employing its own office staff. The year also saw the introduction of the Student Manuals, which have proved of great value to all those taking part in the Institute’s examinations, and indeed to many members who passed their examinations many years before. The introduction of the postal study group so successfully run by Mr Ashton of Leeds, was also started during that year. There have been two members who have acted as president on two occasions, the first being F. A. Burch, who was president in 1921, and who was invited to occupy that position again in 1931, on the occasion of the incorporation of the Association. The second was H. R. Austin, president in 1925 and also in 1926. Mr. Sowary of Leeds had been elected and became president, but he resigned during the year, and Mr. Austin completed the year as president. The list of honorary secretaries reads as follows:

L. Jefferson Hope 1921-23
J. H. T. Jowett 1923-30
H. R. Austin 1930-31
E. Shutt 1931-34
H. R. Austin 1934-46
L. F. James 1946-48
H. Leadbeater 1948-49
L. F. James 1949-63
N. Tams 1963-66

A singularly short list of names falls to be recorded of the men who have looked after our-finances. From the records it would appear there was no hon. treasurer from 1921-1923 and that -the hon. secretary looked after the cash too. Men who have held the post are as follows:

J. H. Derbyshire 1923-31
J. D. Sutton 1931-47
F. R. Botham 1947-to date

Mr. Botham’s period of service was split as hon. treasurer from 1947-61 and as treasurer from 1961. This was due to the desire of the Council of the Institute to retain his services; when he retired from his position as general manager at Manchester it was necessary to make him a payment in order to comply with the Articles of Association and a token fee of £3 3s. 0d. was made to him each year afterwards. There is no doubt, particularly in view of the many changes which took place after 1961, that the decision of the council was a wise one, for the advice of Mr. Botham has proved invaluable on very many occasions.

The Institute will celebrate its jubilee in 1971 and some form of publication should mark the event; if a full history can be published and this present effort can help in providing some sort of foundation, however poor, the work involved in preparing it will be well repaid. Let me finish with a quotation of the great political thinker, Edmund Burke

‘People will not look forward to posterity who never looks backward to their ancestors’.

H Francis President

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One Response to “A Short History of the Institute by Hugh Francis”

  1. Allister McKillop says:

    My Mum’s dad won this ,George Maguire but we have lost records of when he won is there a way of finding out. He ran Summertown Baths in Glasgow

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