Stoke-on-Trent – Hanley Baths

According to The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust Report on Public Baths and Wash-Houses in the United Kingdom by Agnes Campbell B.A. 1918, Hanley Baths opened in 1874 and provided the following:

Swimming Baths
60ft x 30ft
51ft x 27ft
22ft x 16ft

Slipper Baths
Male 22
Female 6

Vapour Baths

According to Ernest Warrilow’s Sociological History of the City of Stoke-on-Trent (Etruscan Publications 1960) the proprietors of the Eastwood Mills opened a baths in Hanley in 1850.

“Hot and cold water was available in individual baths and there was in addition a large swimming bath”.

Warrilow also writes that the building of the first indoor pool in Hanley was considered in 1860, but it was not until 1871 that the Town Council gave the go-ahead. After careful deliberation, it was decided to accept a house and land in Lichfield Street, offered by the executors of the late Timothy Dimmock, a local boat builder.

“In 1871 The General Purposes Committee of the Hanley Town Council reported on the proposed public baths,

“Sites were available in Tontine Street, at 35s. per yard, and in High Street, at 20s. Both sites were owned by Mr. F. Bishop, who was willing to return one-tenth of the purchase money as a donation. Land was also offered near Mayer and Gladstone Street at 9s. per yard; in Church Street (“where the circus stands “) (now Roxy cinema) at 10s., and.a house and lard in Lichfield Street, by the executors of the late Timothy Dimmock. Mr. Meigh’s field in Old Hall Street and land in Trinity Street was also offered.

Hanley Baths 1978 from Ken Cubley Copyright Graham Cubley

It was proposed to sink a well to obtain the water as it was estimated that a quantity of -65,000 gallons of water would need to be renewed twice weekly. The Waterworks Company were at that time required by law to supply water for public baths at a rate not exceeding 6d. per 1,000 gallons.”

The Lichfield site was eventually chosen and Hanley Public Baths were opened in 1873.

The baths were built from local red, black and blue brick, with stone for the many embellishments. The baths became the venue for exciting swimming contests. One such match took place on May 7th, 1896, when a purse of gold was the prize in a championship battle between James Cade, of Leek, and John Tinker, of Burslem.

Hanley baths was later “completely reconditioned and partly recon­structed at a cost of £10,000. This has included a new, wider balcony, widened by 18 inches. The walls have been tiled to the roof and also the old concrete sidewalks. The tiles of the baths have been treated with a special white facing to prevent leak­age of water. Turkish baths, sun-ray treatment. rooms, modern showers, baths and new toilet accommodation are all part of the reconstruction which is to include the second bath.

Hanley Baths After Refurbishment 1955 Published by Stoke-on-Trent-Live 6th September 2017

The most dedicated and outstanding swimmers to use the baths were Norman Wainwright, a life member of Hanley Swimming Club and Britain’s greatest free-style swimmer, who became a legend in his lifetime; and Bob Leivers, whose sporting career was unfortunately cut short for health reasons.

Norman Wainwright really made Stoke-on-Trent renowned in the 1930s and 1940s when he represented Great Britain in middle distances, at the Olympics in 1932/36/48, the European Games in 1934/38/47, and Europe v. America in 1938. He also represented England in the Empire Games of 1934/38, and, during the course of his incredible career, won 24 English championships and broke 50 English records at distances of 150 yards to one mile.”

Hanley Baths sketch by Neville Malkin February 1976

Site of Hanley Baths Neville Malkin March 2010

Recollections of Hanley Baths

The Sentinel Newspaper has done much to keep the memory of Hanley Baths alive.

The Sentinel – Then & Now Hanley Baths 11th April 2009

Hanley Baths by Jim Morgan 1962 Published in Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel

“Image shows the attractive exterior of the old Hanley Baths, at the top of Lichfield Street, almost opposite the Albion Hotel.

Opened in 1873, it was used for around a century, although swimming ended in the 1960’s.

The ornate building was the birthplace of Norman Wainwright, a Potteries swimmer who competed in the Olympic Games. And, in the years between the two world wars, it was common for boys to swim in their birthday suits, as their parents couldn’t afford to buy bathing trunks.

After the closure of the two pools, the popular Turkish Baths remained open for several years.

The venue’s final closure was strongly opposed by many people, although, as the second picture confirms, the building was knocked down and was home to a car park.”

Hanley Public Baths 1873 Copyright Graham Cubley from Ken Cubley

The Sentinel – Then & Now Hanley Baths 14th June 2014

John Scott of Ball Green Stoke-on-Trent submitted a number of photographs to The Sentinel of Hanley Baths 14th June 2014. The publication of these photographs prompted several contributions to the Sentinel Web site from local people;

THESE images capture the distinctive interior and exterior of Hanley Baths, shortly before the building was demolished.

They were taken by John Scott, aged 62, who lives in Ball Green.

Hanley Baths Lichfield Street by John Scott Published in Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel

John says: “During the late 70s and early 80s, I had the habit of taking photographs of any Victorian/Edwardian buildings in the city that the city council had deemed surplus to requirements.

“Unfortunately, many of the fine buildings that were aesthetically pleasing to the eye were zapped before I could photograph them. But one fine building that did not escape the lens of my camera was Hanley Baths, built in 1873 and removed from the landscape during September 1981.”

John was given the chance to take pictures of the building by his uncle, Norman Tildsley, who in the latter years of his working life was employed as a joiner by the City Council. John says:

“He told me that demolition was to start on the Monday, so late on the Friday afternoon, myself and my brother Neil nipped across to Hanley and both began snapping. It was very quiet and spooky, especially by the cast iron boilers.”

The Sentinel – Then & Now Hanley Baths posted 28th June 2014

MADAM, – I used Hanley Baths at around the time John Scott took the photographs published in The Way We Were on June 14.

I usually went there on Saturdays and during the long summer holidays.

As the pictures show, the baths were in a pretty poor state of repair. The joke was that you tended to be dirtier after you’d been in the water than before. It’s quite a shame the building was allowed to fall into such a state, since it must have been quite impressive in its heyday.

The other place I used to go swimming was at Shelton Pool, now also closed. I went there with my school and it made for a welcome break during the school day because we were walked there from Cauldon Road through Hanley Park.
This was probably because the teachers were in no more of a hurry to get back to school than we were.

I remember that before each swimming lesson the whole class had to kneel in a line on the edge of the pool so the teacher could inspect our feet for verrucas. Given that the footbath we had had to walk through to get there was often the colour and consistency of cold lobby, it’s a miracle that is all we ever caught.


MADAM, – I remember going to Hanley Baths as a child. I was only seven years old and can recall the bus picking us up at Northwood Infants’ School.
I used to dread going into the baths. It was such a frightening experience, and looking at the pictures made my stomach turn.

You can imagine being aged just seven and going into such an old building. My imagination would run away with me.

However, my mother, who is now aged 80, tells me her stories of going to have a bath there and how lovely and clean it was, but it still doesn’t convince me – sorry.

LINDA WYTCHERLEY (née Egginton) Hanley

Hanley Baths External View Copyright Graham Cubley from Ken Cubley

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3 Responses to “Stoke-on-Trent – Hanley Baths”

  1. Just wonderful happy memories of my childhood xxx

  2. Ann Hand says:

    I learned to swim and gained my Bronze Cross here many years ago and competed in many galas
    And won many races. Very happy memories x

  3. G roberts says:

    I went swimming regular with my school.and went at the weekends aswel.great memories there.i remember having a cup of limeade pop after I’d got dressed out the drinks machine.wish they were still around.

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