Stoke-on-Trent – Etruria Public Swimming Bath

According to Ernest Warrilow’s Sociological History of the City of Stoke-on-Trent (Etruscan Publications 1960):

‘…..on Thursday, June 1st, 1854, the Etruria Public Swimming Bath was opened, having been built in the autumn of 1853.

It was announced as a Swim­ming and Bathing Mere and a beautiful place of resort to swimmers and bathers. This fine bath, of which no trace remains, was situated on the canal side near to Macaroni Bridge, in the valley between Etruria and Burslem, and about a quarter of a mile from the former place.

The site was very picturesque.

The bath had a feeder from ­the then clear Folhay, or Fowlea Brook, besides which the willow trees grew in profusion.

The open-air bath was 150 feet long by 60 feet broad with an area of 9,750 square feet.

 It was surrounded by a gravel walk and had, on the side next to the canal, a high brick wall which branched into an; ” undressing shed on one side and a well rolled lawn on the other.”

It varied in depth from 2 to 7 feet with the bottom of the bath composed of layers of fine sand and gravel on a clay base.

A row of posts and ropes running longitudinally partitioned off a portion of the bath for the safety of those who could not swim.        

Life buoys, belts and bladders were provided for learners and to prevent accidents.

A lodge was built at the entrance for the bath-keeper and construction of the baths was supervised by Mr. J. S. Forbes, architect, of Etruria.

The baths, which must have been extraordinary to the district, were open throughout the week from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at a fee of 1d. plus 1/2d., extra for a towel.

For men annual tickets cost 5s each.

During the year of the opening, hot, cold and private shower baths were added for men and women.

The walk to the baths was a noted one in those days.

The baths were regarded as “one of the luxuries of life.”

In addition swimming sports were held from time to time and in August, 1858, Samuel Potts, a working man of Hanley, swam “fully two miles in less than three-quarters of an hour and challenged all comers to a still greater length! ” Truly ” Mr. Myatts’ swimming pond ” at Etruria must have been a luxury for swimmers in the Potteries.

How and why the swimming bath fell into disuse and disappeared is not known, but one suspects that subsidence may have played an important part

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