Baths and Bath Engineering The Official journal of the National Association of Baths Superintendents No.53 July 1938 Vol.5 p.167 – 170

Wandsworth Swimming Facilities


ONE of the earliest acts of the Wandsworth Borough Council after being established in 1900 was to arrange for the opening of public baths in the High-street. This building contains two swimming baths; also slipper baths far both sexes. One of the swimming baths is kept open on certain days during the winter months, while the other is converted into a hall during that period and used for indoor bowls.

In 1907 a slipper baths building was provided in Tooting High-street, and in 1935 the accommodation was modernised and the number of baths increased.

The Balham swimming bath was erected in 1915 and it is kept open throughout the year.

New Swimming Pool in King George's Park Wandsworth

The Council’s post-war baths programme included the erection in 1927 of the Streatham baths, and in 1932 of the Clapham baths. Each building includes ogle swimming bath which is converted into an assembly hall during the winter°. Slipper baths have been provided at Clapham hauls, and space has been allowed at the Streatham building for the provision of these facilities in the future.

The Council also have in contemplation the provision of swimming baths at Putney and Footing, and steps are now being taken to acquire the necessary sites.

Realising that open-air swimming is important feature of the “Keep Fit” movement, now being promoted in responsible quarters, the Council, in 1937, decided to provide a new open-air swimming pool in King George’s Park, and it was opened by the Mayor, Ald. G. F. Morris J.P. on May 6, 1938.

The New Open-Air Pool

Within easy reach of Tooting and Wandsworth, the most densely populated areas in the borough, the new pool adjoins a children’s paddling pool, which was constructed in 1936.

The swimming pool is 165 ft. long by 60 ft. wide, and the depth varies from 2 ft, 6 in, to 10 ft. It is constructed of reinforced concrete throughout with cantilever `Falls 18 in, thick. The walls are lined with polished blue Cullamix slabs and the floor with glazed bricks. Each Cullamix slab measures 30 in. by 18 in, by 2 in.

The surround of the pool is paved with red non­slip flags.

The diving stage comprises a 5 m, fixed board, 3 m and 3 m spring boards and separate 1 m, fixed and spring boards.


Water Purification Plant

The water purifying plant is arranged for deal­ing not only with the contents of the swimming pool, approximating 385,000 gal., but the 28,000 gal. contained in the children’s piddling pool, the combined 413,000 gal, being passed through the purification plant in a period of five hours. From the deep end of the swimming pool the water is drawn off through an outlet grating con­necting with 15 in. diameter cast iron suction piping into which a 4 in. diameter pipe from the paddling pool also connects before the water is drawn through a cast iron strainer box. The strainer is provided with quick release rover and removable basket, of which a spare is supplied to allow of continuous operation ‘during emptying and cleaning.

The circulating pumps are of the low lift split casing centrifugal type capable of dealing with 82,600 gal. per hour against the total pumping head, and driven by 20 h.p. electric motors operating on a 400 volts 3 phase 50 cycles circuit. The pumps are in duplicate in order to provide complete standby.

Sulphate of alumina coagulant, and when necessary soda ash, are applied to the water leaving the circulating pumps by means of auto­matic shunt feed proportioning apparatus operat­ing under the direct influence of the flow of water through a venturi tube in the cast iron delivery main. The reagents are applied in the form of saturated solutions from pressure chemical con­tainers constructed of steel suitably lined to with­stand chemical action, and having quick release swing covers designed with special attention to the necessity for ensuring easy and speedy open­ing up, refilling with the solid reagent and again putting into service.

Direct reading indicators show the rate at which the water is being circulated at any moment and the rate at which the coagulant and alkali are being applied, so making it easy for the attendant to effect immediate increase or decrease of either to suit any change in the nature of the water or the bathing load.

Two pressure filters of the horizontal type are installed, each 8 ft. diameter by 22 ft, long. These are of the standard air cleansed type equipped with valves for effecting the necessary control of inlet, outlet, wash water, waste and compressed air, and contain a 27 in. depth of washed and sifted Leighton Buzzard sand resting upon selected grades of pebble underbed.

The impurities arrested by the pressure filters are removed by agitation with compressed air obtained from an electrically driven direct acting rotary blower, followed by a current of wash water applied in a reverse direction through the filter underdrains which consist of a system of perforated lateral tubes having equidistant orifices calculated to ensure even distribution of the com­pressed air and wash water and collection of filtered water over the whole area during the process of normal operation.

Final treatment takes the form of disinfection by the chlorine process, chlorine and gaseous ammonia being applied respectively by the well­-known manometer type chloronome and gaseous ammoniator. On its return to the pool the finally treated water passes through 15 in, diameter cast iron piping to the cascade aerator.

The whole of the circulation and purification arrangements were designed and installed by the Paterson Engineering Co., Ltd., of London.


Forming an interesting architectural feature of the pool the cascade 8 ft. high and octagonal in shape is constructed in three tiers with a bottom basin of 22 ft. diameter. The whole is finished in polished blue Cullamix.

The dressing accommodation consists of two separate buildings, one for each sex, measuring 145 ft. by 25 ft. and each provided with 76 cubicles and 400 Evertaut steel lockers of the 2-tier type and 15 in, wide. The lockers are of special construction for use in swimming baths, etc., and they are nested together in blocks to suit the accommodation allotted to them and also numbered. Shower baths, washing and sanitary accommodation, and electric hair dryers are also provided. The shower fittings in chromium plate consist of overhead shower rose, individually controlled by non-concussive push­button self-closing valve to prevent waste of water. Foot baths, formed in concrete, are arranged outside the doorways leading from the dressing accommodation.

Bottom of the pool is cleared by means of suction apparatus.

The administration offices are housed in a building at the main entrance, and comprise a ticket office, store, superintendent’s office and Accommodation for the male and female staff.

A service cafe is provided for light refreshments.

Near the deep end of the pool there is a sun­bathing terrace, measuring 122 ft. by 30 ft. covered with shingle.

Drinking fountains are provided comprising white porcelain enamelled iron bowl with adjust­able bubble jet placed to prevent contamination, operated by push action non-concussive self-­closing valve.

The cost of constructing the pool was £22,386, half of which will be borne by the London County Council. The maintenance and management will be in the hands of the Wandsworth Borough Council.

The works were carried out to the designs, and under the supervision of the Borough Engineer and Architect, Mr. Ernest J. Elford, M.Inst.C.E.

Mr. W. T. Soar, M.N.A.B.S., is the General Baths Superintendent of Wandsworth.


Messrs. Wilson Bros., of Tooting, were the main contractors for the scheme and the following were among the sub-contractors : -Artificial stone slabs – Atlas Stone Co., Ltd., Greenhithe, Kent ; Cullamix slabs and cascade -The Cam­bridge Artificial Stone Co., Ltd., Cambridge; terrazzo work-The Camden Tile and Mosaic Ca., Ltd., London; steel lockers – J. B. Brooks and Co., Ltd., Birmingham; sanitary fittings, drinking fountains, etc. – B. Finch and Co., Ltd., London; turnstiles – C. Idler and Co., Ltd., London; glazed brickwork – Shaws Glazed Brick Co., Ltd., Darwen, Lanes; diving stage-Spencer, Heath and George, Ltd., Enfield.

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13 Responses to “Wandsworth”

  1. Russell Smith says:

    A considerable amount of Boxing Shows were held here



  2. Lara Jay says:

    I remember mum taking me for a bath to Wandsworth Baths- probably 1946-1052. I wield Love a picture of the inside!

  3. Trudie Best says:

    I remember going there several times during my childhood, especially on very hot summer days in the school summers holidays. Was only about 10 pence to get in and spend a whole day there. My mother was born near the wandle river. I was born and bred in Tooting South London and was married at the age of 21, when i moved to Thornton Heath. My mother and father moved from Tooting to live in Worthing west Sussex In the middle eighties after living in Tooting all their working lifes. Lots of fond memories. Now live in Gloucester.

    • Richard says:

      I lived on Mapleton Rd in the mid 90’s – the pool was gone by then – but I had lived in Gloucester for ten years (it’s a small world!), until I left school, to go to Kingston Poly.

    • Eric metcalf says:

      I lived in wardley street in 1950/9 spent many happy days in king George’s swimming pool happy

  4. Cherry O'Connor says:

    in July 1955 we hired the hall at Wandsworth Baths for our wedding

  5. Trish walford says:

    In 1959 I lived in jeyepore rd went to swaffeild school went on to garret green girls school. I spent Every waking hour in king Georges park left school summer 65 those were the days

    • Valerie Symes says:

      Hello, do you remember Shirley Stallwood? She lived at No. 10 Galesbury Road. We both attended Swaffield School (Miss Sanders class) and we used to go to the swimming pool almost every day.

  6. Malcolm Cragg says:

    Back in the sixties,we queued in a long line outside,going through turnstiles to get in.The bakers in Wandsworth sold bread pudding for one pence a slab.

    • Valerie Symes says:

      The only times I remember queueing at the turnstiles was on the very hot summer days. Normally we could just go straight in because we used to go there all year round until it closed for the winter. Then we’d go to the indoor baths on West Hill. I remember the bakers, my friend always had bread pudding. I thought it was 2d a piece.

    • Doug Johnson says:

      I remember the bread pudding and you could get a bag of broken biscuits as well right next door to wandsworth indoor swimming pool on the high street, I think about 1960

  7. James Bennett says:

    Having the King George swimming pool in our area of Southfields when I was 10years old in 1945, was a real benefit. There was a free entrance day once a week (I remember this being Tuesday’s) otherwise the entrance cost was mainly 2p and we could stay there for hours without being told the session had ended.
    Some of the war time issued gas masks had a cream painted tin and after the war this tin was exactly the right size to take a rolled up towel and swimming trunks. There was a period in the 1940’s when polio caused a scare about swimming in public pools, but we boys all continued going to King George’s pool and as far as I can remember there were never any cases of polio reported for this pool. The River Wandle could be seen from fence at the deep end of the pool and the difference between the clear water of the pool and the colour of the river was a great contrast to observe. War time Wandsworth B C should be applauded for the provision of this civic amenity.

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