Coatbridge Municipal Baths and Swimming Pond – A MODERN ESTABLISHMENT IN SCOTLAND

Baths and Bath Engineering The Official Journal of the National Association of Baths Superintendents Editor; Jenkyn Griffiths, BSc., P.A.Inst.W.E. August 1938 No.54 Vol.5 p175-179

Coatbridge Municipal Baths and Swimming Pond – A MODERN ESTABLISHMENT IN SCOTLAND

SINCE June 25, 1885, when the Coatbridge Burgh Act received the Royal Assent, and the “Iron Burgh” obtained for the first time official standing as a separate unit of local government, there has been one question which has at some time during their respective terms of office, caused no little discussion among the successive town councils – this being the provision of public baths and a municipal swimming pond.

Tentative proposals submitted at various times were always met with seemingly insurmountable difficulties, but in 1934, the first definite advance was made, the Council unanimously agreeing to a recommendation of the Provost’s Committee that the site of the Old Caledonian Tube Works be acquired by the Council at a price of £2,000.

Following on this decision, the Convener’s Com­mittee met to discuss the question of the “utilisa­tion of site and buildings of Old Caledonian Tube Works.” Certain of the buildings on the site were in a dilapidated condition, but the main erection was being used as a club. Several suggestions were considered by the meeting, but the recommendation dealing directly with this narrative was that a sufficient area be reserved on the eastern side of the site for the provision in the future of a swimming pond with entrance thereto from the main thoroughfare.

Thereafter, the Commissioner for Special Areas in Scotland was approached on the proposed project, and as a result the Commissioner offered, subject to certain conditions, to provide from the Special Areas Fund, a grant towards the capital cost of the scheme amounting to £12,000, or 60 per cent, of the verified capital cost, whichever was the less. Later, the financial basis of the Commissioner’s offer was amended and he agreed to increase his contribution for grant to 50 per cent. of the verified capital cost of such items in the scheme as he might approve as relating, to essential requirements, or a sum of £20,000, whichever was less.

The Town Council, at a special meeting unani­mously resolved to accept the Commissioner’s offer and formally resolved, in terms of s. 309 of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, to provide “suitable and convenient premises to be used for public baths and municipal swimming pond and to fit the same up with all requisite and proper conveniences.”

Subsequently the Council considered the preliminary details of the scheme and it was decided that architects should be invited to submit competitive designs for public baths and municipal swimming pond and also for new public health offices, and for a minor ailments clinic to be erected and administered jointly with the Education Authority of the County of Lanark, all on the site of the Old Caledonian’ Tube Works.

Mr. Win. B. Whitie, F.R.I.B.A., president of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, agreed to act as assessor of the competition which was conducted strictly in accordance with the regulations prescribed by the Incorporation of Architects and for which the Town Council offered premiums of £250, £150 and £75 respectively to the authors of the designs placed first, second and third. The competition, confined to architects practising north of the Border, aroused the keen interest of architects all over the country and a variety of cleverly executed designs was produced 35 entrants submitting 36 designs. The design submitted by Messrs. James Davidson and Son, of Coatbridge, was placed first by the assessor.

Mr. E. Royal, M.I.Mech.E., chief engineer, Scottish Boiler and General Insurance Co., Ltd., Glasgow, was appointed to act as consulting engineer by the Council, to prepare specifications for and supervise the construction and installation of all engineer services, while Mr. J. Stark, Glasgow, was appointed measurer of the scheme.

Before the actual completion of the buildings by the end of April, 1938, the town council deemed it advisable to make the appointment of a superintendent of the baths, etc., in order that the person appointed should have an opportunity of familiarising himself with the lay-out of the machinery and of the premises as a whole. Appli­cations for the post were accordingly considered by the Council, and the successful applicant was Mr. Richard M. Hogg, M.N.A.B.S., superintendent of the open-air swimming pool at Portobello, and a swimming and diver of national repute. Mr. Hogg was not slow to assume the reins of responsibility.

Previous to the official opening by Lord George Nigel Douglas-Hamilton, Commissioner for Special Areas in Scotland, on May 11, 1938, this modern baths establishment was inspected by Their Majesties the King and Queen during their tour of Lanarkshire after the opening of the Empire Exhibition.

The buildings on the site are arranged so as to provide a forecourt 70 ft. square, practically in the centre of the Main Street frontage, from which the baths and public health offices have their entrances. The facade to the main front is built of a cream-coloured free-stone, and the architec­tural treatment is such that the whole presents a dignified and pleasing effect.

Layout of the Scheme

There is a spacious and well-lit entrance hail on the street level with the ticket office situated midway between the exit and entrance doorways. To the right of the ticket office, access is gained by short corridors to the dressing rooms, a separate corridor leading to the pond hall being provided for spectators. In the dressing rooms an equal number of cubicles and lockers is provided for either sex, there being a total of 70 cubicles and 304 steel lockers. As the ratio of cubicles to lockers may appear high, it should be explained that extra accommodation is provided for use during rush periods. Bathers can only enter the pond hail by way of the pre-cleansing rooms, where hot and cold showers, footbaths and water-traps are provided.

The swimming pond is 100 ft. long and 35 ft. wide, and is built to meet all gala requirements; the depth of water ranges from 3 ft. 6 in. to 10 ft. Twelve under-water floodlighting units with 500 watt lamps are provided. The diving stage provides five progressive platforms and, at the level of the fifth platform, an international type 3 m. springboard is situated. This board is of standard design, being 16 ft. long by 1 ft. 8 in. wide and tapered from 3 in. thick at one end to 1 in. at the other, with suitable hardwood fillets to prevent warping. An adjustable sliding fulcrum is fitted and is so constructed that at any point of its travel the pitch or rise of the spring­board remains unaltered. From the 3 m. spring­board, eight steps and handrails are provided to reach the top platform, the height of which is 5 m., the length 16 ft. 9 in., and the width 4 ft. Apart from the main structure, an International type 1 m. springboard with adjustable fulcrum, etc., of similar design to the 3 m. springboard, is also provided. Features of the diving stage are the original design, the weight of the structure resting on the acute angles of the triangles which form the main supports of the platforms. The arrangement of the supports offers no obstacle to the starting of races from the deep end of the pond and is due to the small amount of space used on the surround. Another feature is that the one ­sided approach to all the diving platforms allows a part of the pond to be roped off its full length for the use of swimmers during busy periods. The stage is constructed from 2 in. and 11/2 in. bore “S and L” steel tubes. In side elevation it appears as an inverted equilateral triangle. There are three uprights in each of the three sections forming the stage, the centre one being vertical and the outside members bent from the top of the frame diagonally to meet the centre strut at the floor level. The three legs of each section are attached to mild steel rectangular baseplates measuring 12 in. by 8 in. by ¾ in. thick by welding, which are concreted into the deck. One side of each of the bent sections of the top of the frame rests against the wall of the building and has bell­-mouthed steel tube projections welded on, which are built into the wall. The free end of the top of the stage projects well over the edge of the pond. The triangular formation of the stage presents little obstruction, and thus permits of the maximum space available on the surround. The three sections of steel tubing of the stage are attached to each other by steel tube distance pieces which also carry the diving platforms. The stair frame, bearers for the treads of the stair and climbing ladder from the 3 m. stage to the 5 m. stage are made from steel tubes and welded at the desired positions to form a single unit. All joints of the structure are flush welded joints. The 1 m. stage, separate from the main stage, is also con­structed from steel tubes, bent to the desired form and with the necessary fittings welded on where required. It is attached to the surround in a somewhat similar manner to the main stage. The springboard is hinged and secured by suitable glands to a tubular frame which has baseplate welded on and bolted to the concrete floor.

The pond surround is laid with non-slip impervious tiles, while the side walls are lined with white glazed tiles to the level of the spectators’ gallery.

Water Filtration and Ozone Plant

The filtration plant is designed to circulate and purify the contents of the swimming pond, 150,000 gal. of water, in four hours at the rate of 37,500 gal. per hour.

The water is drawn through a large outlet grating it the deepest point of the pond, and a certain proportion is also drawn over the scum trough at the deep end. The main suction piping is fitted with a strainer box having a basket­ pattern strainer and provided with a quick release cover.

The water is circulated through the, purification plant by duplicate electrically driven centrifugal pumps. On leaving the pumps the water is treated with sulphate of alumina and, when necessary, soda, administered by the Peterson venturi controlled reagent proportioning appara­tus. Direct reading reagent and water flow indicators are provided.

The treated water is delivered to the four 8 ft. diameter vertical pressure filters, having a total filtration area of 201 sq. ft. and operating at a filtration speed of 187 gal. per sq. ft. per hour. After being filtered, the water is collected by the Peterson patent manifold underdrain system, and is then discharged from each filter into a common delivery main. The filtering media is periodically cleansed of the intercepted impurities by pre­liminary agitation with air, followed by a reverse flow of clean water.

After passing through a calorifier, where it is heated to a temperature of 72 deg. Fahr., the filtered water is re-oxygenated and sterilised by contact with ozone in a sterilising chamber of sufficient volume to give an adequate contact between the ozone and the water. The ozone is injected into the water by means of a water­ operated ozone mixer. The purified water flows under a gravity head from the chamber to the pond where it is introduced through 11 controlled inlets, three being in the wall at the shallow end and four on either side.

The air required for production of ozone is first passed through a desiccator for the extraction of any moisture, and then passes through ozonisers arranged in batteries. The ozoniser is of tubular form and consists of a special non-corrodible metallic element carried by suitable supports within a glass cylinder, a high voltage current being discharged from the metallic tube across the air space to the glass cylinder and thence to earth via the cooling water surrounding the cylinder. The continuous discharge of high-tension current across the annular space between the two tubes converts the oxygen of the air passing through the space into ozone. The ozone produced by each tube passes into a chamber at the end of each battery, from which it is connected into a common main.

A Peterson suction sweeper operated by means of the main circulating water pumps is provided. The sweeper nozzle is constructed of gunmetal and is fitted with an adjustable brush and the necessary rubber-tyred wheels. The nozzle is also furnished with the necessary connections to enable it to be moved over the bottom of the pond by ropes or rods, the latter being arranged in sections. Two suction, sweeper connections are provided in one side wall of the pond, and these are coupled into the main suction piping by a suitable pipe. The nozzle is connected to either suction paint by special flexible hose provided with floats.

Heating and Ventilating Plants

Three “Cochran Kirke” horizontal pattern “Sinuflo” gas fired steam boilers are installed in the boiler house in the basement of the buildings. Each boiler has a rated evaporation of 1,500 lb. per hour at a working pressure of 60 lb. per sq. in. and is fired by town gas at a pressure of approximately 4 in, w.g. The boilers are each independently served by three Worthington Simpson horizontal duplex electrically driven boiler feed pumps, which are automatically controlled by Ronald Trist feed water regulators. High pressure, high and low water controls, together with automatic cut outs in the event of failure of the gas or electric supply are provided, so that the installation is entirely automatic. The boilers provide steam to serve the heating installa­tion, hot water supply, Turkish and Russian baths and to warm the water in the swimming pond.

The buildings are heated by a low pressure hot water installation designed on the two pipe upfeed accelerated principle with radiators and coils fitted throughout the buildings and also the Health Offices and Clinic adjacent. The system is served by two vertical pattern cast iron calorifiers, each having a rated capacity of 1,500,000 per hour. One calorifier is a standby to the other.

These calorifiers are thermostatically controlled to maintain constant temperatures.

The domestic hot water for slipper baths, sprays, footbaths, etc., is supplied by three hori­zontal pattern storage calorifiers constructed of copper and each has a storage capacity of 300 gal. with a steam heated battery capable of an hourly load of 750,000 Thermostatic steam control is provided to ensure a constant supply of hot water at even temperature.

A complete unit is installed for delivering hot air to the Turkish bath rooms and consists of a viscous type filter through which air is drawn from outside the building by a motor driven centrifugal fan and passed through a steam heating battery which raises the temperature of the air sufficiently to maintain 220 deg. Fahr. in laconicum, 180 deg.

Fahr. in the caledarium and 140 deg. Fahr. in the tepidarium.

The Russian baths are provided with steam radiators below each cubicle seat and a sparge pipe with a special control valve is also provided under each seat. Coils are fitted below the slabs in the massage room.

Steam is also supplied to the laundry machinery. From each of the heating units, condensate is returned to a hot well tank situated above the boiler house from which the water is pumped back into the boilers, so effecting con­siderable economy.

Laundry Equipment

The laundry machinery comprises one electri­cally driven washing machine complete with push button start and stop switch and patent inter­locking gear arranged so that the machine cannot be started up until the outer doors are closed and must be stopped before the doors can be opened ; one electrically driven hydro-extractor fitted with copper basket and complete with push button start and stop switch, also automatic safety cover; one electrically driven continuous drying machine complete with push button start and stop switches, fans, etc.; one electrically driven power mangle complete with automatic finger guard and push button start and stop switches ; one soap and soda dissolver complete with valves, cocks, etc. ; and also the usual minor laundry plant and equipment.


A feature of the pond hall is the amount of natural light and ventilation obtained by the type of roof employed, ventilation being assisted by the use of two propeller fans, one fitted at each end of the hall, on the gable walls. Artificial lighting has had special consideration, the ceiling being illuminated by indirect lighting from the sides, and the pond hall by reflecting fitments placed in the void between the inner and outer roof glazing.

Seating accommodation is provided for approxi­mately 600 spectators and is so arranged that each person has an unobstructed view of the complete water area.

Emergency lighting is provided in the entrance hall, passages, dressing rooms and the pond hall, and operates automatically in the event of failure of the electric supply.

Also opening directly from the entrance hall on the street level are the superintendent’s office, club rooms, general waiting room, and the laundry.

The upstairs flat is reached by a central stair spreading to either side at the half-flat and leading to the gallery cantilevered over the entrance hall. On one side are the slipper bath rooms, where foam, pine and aeration baths are available, while on the other side a well-appointed suite of Turkish and Russian baths consisting of a boot room, cooling room with dressing accom­modation and rest couches, shampoo room where expert shampooers are in constant attendance, three hot rooms, and a Russian vapour bath room with private cubicles is provided.

Four Leonard thermostatic water mixing valves control the temperature of hot water supplying, in one case, four foot baths; in another, six foot baths; and in the two other cases, two sets of four showers.

The valves will deliver blended water at variable temperatures which can be set at will by the user, or locked, if necessary, by the attendant. They will operate if the pressures of the hot and the cold supplies are unequal or varying, and under varying conditions of pressure and temperature they will maintain the set temperature of the outlet blended water. This operation is obtained by the use of a bi-metallic strip inside the valve which operates a rotary valve having ports admitting both the hot and the cold in such quantity as will give a constant blended outlet temperature.

The asphalt work to the roofs was carried out by Highways Construction, Ltd. (incorporating the business of the French Asphalte Co.), using standardised natural asphalte, manufactured and laid according to the specifications of the Natural Asphalte Mineowners’ and Manufacturers’ Council, of which the above firm is a member. This specification calls for genuine natural rock asphalt, naturally impregnated with bitumen to which is added an adequate proportion of refined Lake Asphalte bitumen. The company uses the rock obtained from the mine at St. Jean-de­-Maruejols, in the Gard region of France. The asphalt work to the roofs consisted of two thicknesses of natural rock asphalte to a total thickness of ¾ in. on a non-bituminous felt, with skirtings and vertical work to walls, over an area of about 1.500 super yd.


Amongst the contractors for the scheme were Steelwork-W,m. Bain and Co., Ltd., Coatbridge; excavator, mason and brick works – James Crawford and Sons, Ltd., Glasgow; motor pump -Drysdale and Co., Ltd., Yoker, Glasgow ; turn­stiles-W. T. Ellison and Co., Ltd., Pendleton, Salford, Lanes; steel clothes locker-T. and H. Fox, Glasgow ; heating and ventilation equipment -G. N. Haden and Sons, Ltd., Glasgow; steel windows-Henry Hope and Sons, Ltd., Smethwick, Birmingham ; ferro concrete roof lights­J. A. King and Co., Ltd., London; water filtration and ozone plant-The Paterson Engineering Co., Ltd., London; patent roof glazing-The Pennycook Patent Glazing and Engineering Co., Ltd., Glasgow ; laundry machinery-James Ritchie, Ltd., Partick, Glasgow; diving stage-Stewarts and Lloyds Limited, Glasgow, Birmingham and London; Leonard thermostatic water mixing valves – Walker, Crosweller and Co., Ltd., Cheltenham, Gloucester; tile work-John Youden and San, Ltd., Glasgow.


The Public Baths and Municipal Swimming Pond Committee consists of the following members : Provost J. Tennent (Convener); Bailie J. Pirie; Bailie W. J. McLeod; Treasurer, J. Purdie; and Councillors A. Beedie, P. Griffin, M. McGivern, J. Mills, D. Mullen, G. Neilson, and A. Ridden.

Officials of the Coatbridge Town Council include: A. S. Thom, B.L., Town Clerk; A. G. G. Barclay, A.S.S.A., Town Chamberlain; R. Cordiner, M.B., Ch.B., D.P.H., Medical Officer of Health ; and J. Spence, Burgh Surveyor.

Last updated 17 January 2012

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4 Responses to “Coatbridge Municipal Baths and Swimming Pond – A MODERN ESTABLISHMENT IN SCOTLAND”

  1. Charlie monro says:

    Can anyone shed any light on what happened the cubist style sculpture of a naked woman which was outside the front of the building, ( it may have been a fountain also but I can’t be sure), the name is both the sculptor and the piece is really what I’d like to know. As a child in the Late 50’s and early 60’s I saw it every time I went to the baths, which was a short walk over the hill from Ronald Street whereI lived. Great days.

  2. Margaret Nugent( nee Docherty) says:

    Spent many a. Happy day with family and friends at this pool. The smell of carbolic soap is engrained in my memory. A building and facility which could still have been in use had it been looked after. The school took us there on Friday morning for swimming lessons, chaotic but great fun! The summer holidays saw queues of youngsters standing outside waiting for the next session, our pennies making marks on the outside stone wall. Those were the days when children did things together without their parents at their side.

  3. Jan Young says:

    brings back a lot of memories. was more or less brought up here. my mother trained as a syncronised swimmer here & my great aunt (georgina roberts) worked in the sauna which I vaguely remember. We do have lots of family photos (allowed in those days) if anyone interested.
    my children chose to to the athletic way, most of my 8 granchildren chose football except 1 grandaughter who at 7yrs old is excelling herself (well I think so) at swimming.
    As i said lovely to see the old pool again
    Thank you for your time listening to me rant about the old days

    • Carl Evans says:

      Hi Jan thanks for posting. We really appreciate photographs of old swimming pools and people enjoying their time in them. If you are happy to share them please let me know. Also if you have any other memories please add them. Thanks Carl

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