Rochdale – Proposals for the Construction of Rochdale’s New Baths

By S. U. MORGAN, M.Inst.C.E.. Borough Surveyor, Rochdale

The following article appeared in Baths and Bath Engineering (The Official Journal of the National Association of Bath Superintendents) page 27 – 29 February 1936 Issue 24 Volume 3 Editor; Jenkyn Griffiths B.Sc; P.A.Inst.W.E

Entwisle Road Baths Rochdale PlanThe demand for up-to-date municipal baths in every centre of population has become vary marked in recent years. The type of building and the facilities to be provided bear very little likeness to buildings erected 30 years ago, under the same description. This development is largely due to the great tendency to open-air forms of life which has been so marked in the last 20 years by all classes of the population – rambling, camping, and caravanning.

Owing to the climate in this country it is not possible to indulge in swimming in the open air except during a very short season; consequently it is necessary to provide covered swimming halls with adequate accommodation to provide for swimming all the year round.

Some authorities advocate the erection of baths in or near the most densely populated part of the working class area of a town, but this in my opinion is by no means essential owing to the greatly increased means of cheap travel which are available today. In very large cities where a number of baths scattered all over the town are available, this policy may be possible and may be advisable, but in the average county borough a central position has many advantages. The site chosen at Rochdale is within 400 yd. of the centre of the town. A deciding factor in its selection was that it adjoins the refuse destructor, and it is proposed to obtain all the steam necessary for heating, etc., from this source.


In considering this there are many factors which have to be borne in mind

(1) The issue of tickets of the control of persons entering the baths.

(2) The issue of clean towels in a manner which will be convenient for the bathers and economical in administration.

(3) The adaptability of the building for use for mixed bathing, or for men and separately, or for use as a public hall, or jointly at the same time for use as a public hall and for bathing.

(4) Bathers must not enter the baths except through a footbath and shower. Spectators must not approach the bathers’ platform immediately surrounding the baths.

(5) The swimming baths, slipper baths, Russian, Turkish and foam baths must be equally available and convenient of access.

I propose to illustrate some of these points by reference to the baths which we are now erecting in Entwisle Road. Reference to the plan reproduced here will illustrate my remarks.

Two entrances are provided – one for bathers and spectators, and the other for use if and when the large bath is converted into a public hall in the winter months.

Where there is only one plunge bath, the building can be planned on a central axis with slipper baths on both sides and arranged symmetrically, hut in our ease this has not been possible as two pools of differing size are provided, together with slipper, Turkish, Russian and foam baths,

Bathers on entering the building must pass through a turnstile in time entrance hall where payment is made and where they receive their towels and costumes. Some baths recently erected have not adopted the turnstile method of checking the number of bathers, but instead have installed special ticket-issuing machines.

From the entrance hall the bathers pass into an inner hall. Here notices are displayed over the various doors indicating the direction of the two plunge baths for men and women, and also to the slipper baths. A staircase from this hall leads to the first floor, on which are arranged the Turkish, Russian and foam baths. All persons entering the baths, whether bathers or spectators, have to pass through this inner hall, which is overlooked from the pay office. This greatly assists in supervision and control.

The towel store connected to the basement by a small lift is placed near to the ticket office, and is so arranged that the towels which are washed and dried in the basement laundry can be placed in baskets on small bogies and wheeled to the lift leading to the towel store. The towels are not removed from the baskets until actually being placed on the shelves of the towel store. If desired, the baskets can be wheeled, still filled with towels, direct from the lift to the pay office. It is worthy of note that it is proposed to provide for the sterilisation of soiled towels by steam to ensure that all towels issued will be free from any infection.

From the inner hall the bathers proceed down the corridors to the dressing rooms. These consist of long rooms with cubicles arranged down each side while steel clothes lockers are placed down the centre. The bather on entering the room is handed a key to a locker, and a numbered token to which is attached a rubber hand. After undressing and donning his costume he places his clothes in the locker, and after locking it up with the key provided secures the rubber hand and token round his wrist, and returns the key to the attendants’ room.

In order to reach the plunge bath the bather must first pass through the spray room where showers and footbaths are provided. It is essential that proper facilities should be provided to enable bathers to properly cleanse themselves before entering the swimming pool, and too much stress cannot be laid on this aspect. As the bathers leave the spray room to enter the plunge bath, they must first pass through the footbath containing water at a constant depth of 3 in., at the same time passing under a continually running shower. This shower and the footbath are connected to the filtration plant with mains separate from the plunge bath, and a constant supply of filtered water is always passing through the shower.

Another method adopted for securing cleanliness is that the 4 ft. platform immediately surrounding the plunge bath is for the use of bathers only. Spectators are not allowed on this platform, another one 4 ft. wide being provided for them at a level 6 in. higher. These platforms fall away from the edge of the bath to channels, so that dirt is not washed into the pool and therefore cannot foul the water in it.

Bathers leaving the water may return to the dressing rooms by means of the footbath or they may pass through a one-way turnstile without again passing through water.

In the dressing room they hand over their numbered token, obtain the key for the locker, locate their lockers, obtain their clothes and find a vacant cubicle. The number of clothes lockers provided may be considerably in excess of the dressing cubicles. In the case of the Rochdale baths the proportion is four lockers to each cubicle.

The handling of used towels and costumes is reduced to a minimum, chutes being provided from the dressing room direct to the basement.

Water Purification

Mixing & Supply Tanks for ChemicalsThere are many ways in which the water may be contaminated

(1) From the Perspiration and dirt on the body of the bather. As previously stated, the danger front this source is being reduced by insistence on every bather cleansing him or herself before entering the swimming pool.

(2) From dirt from boots or feet of persons walking on the platform immediately surrounding the pool. This has been met, as already explained, by sloping the platform away from the tank, and by preventing the use of the platform except to bathers who have passed through the footbath.

(3) By the possibility of persons urinating or spitting into the bath, and from the nose of the bather. The provision of w.c.s and urinals, and notices encouraging their use before entering the bath, and the provision of numerous spittoons, should do much to reduce this came of trouble.

(4) From the costumes and caps used by the bathers.

There is no question, however, that whatever care is taken by such preventive measures as are described above, the water in a well-used swimming bath becomes quickly fouled and infected, and disease may easily be passed from one bather to another.

The standards of purification to be maintained in the new bath at Entwisle Road have been taken to be those outlined in The Purification of the Water of Swimming Baths,” published by the Ministry of Health in August 1929,* and more concisely stated in the evidence presented by the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers to the Departmental Committee on the Cost of Hospitals and Other Public Buildings.

[Mr. Morgan continues his paper by dealing with the standards of purification under the following headings: Size, nature and capacity; chemical and biological treatment necessary; capacity of plant; and chemical and biological treatment.]

To ensure that the standards of purification for which the plant has bean designed are maintained in the bath under working conditions, it is necessary that the samples of the water should be frequently taken and tested

(1) For pH value.

(2) For free chlorine content.

It should be possible for the superintendent to make working tests of this several times a day, particularly if he is supplied with a comparator; but, in my view, in addition to this, carefully taken samples of the bath water should be regularly made by some independent person and analysed

(1) For pH value.

(2) For free chlorine content.

(3) For bacterial quality.

In conclusion, I wish to acknowledge the assistance of my staff in the preparation of these notes, and particularly that of Mr. S. G. Eldred. L.R.I.B.A., and Mr. E. Rothwell, A.M.1.E.E.

[ACKNOLEDGMENT – From a paper read before the Royal Sanitary Institute at Rochdale.]

See also Baths and Bath Engineering, April 1935, p. 63, and May 1935, p. 97.

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