THE HEART OF SWIMMING IN CHESTER
If your family's roots are in the Chester area, chances are your grandparents and their grandparents learned to swim at the baths.
Over the past 120 years, the baths have seen Olympic swimmers, Champion swimming and water polo teams, and tens of thousands of learners and improvers!
Here's just a taste of our history...
THE FLOATING BATHS
Chester has had 'sheltered' swimming since 1877. The original Baths floated on the River Dee! It had a wooden bottom and the river water simply flowed through it.
It wasn't without its problems though – it temporarily sank in 1885 and in 1899, during very heavy rains, the building broke loose and was stranded on the weir downstream.
THE 'MODERN' BATHS
In 1900, work began on the building we still use today. It opened 25 September 1901 – this image was taken on opening day. The building housed two pools, the Atlantic (shown here on opening day) and the Pacific – but oddly the Pacific is the smaller pool, even though it's the bigger ocean! While some of the tiles may have changed, both of the original pools are still very much in use today.
Within just a few years of the baths opening, the Chester Swimming club turned out its finest elite athlete. Wilf Edwards did Chester proud by representing Great Britain in the 1908 Olympics in London. And while he was actually better known as a water polo player, he won plenty of honours for the Chester Swimming Club from county all the way through to international competition.
TRAINING THE YOUNGER GENERATION
From the very beginning, the baths and the Chester Swimming club were training the people of Chester from adults to the very young. Quite how they worked out that Willie Moody was England's youngest swimmer we can't be sure but he was the son of Alfred Moody, the bath's manager from 1904-31. The Moodys were a bit of a swimming dynasty in Chester with various members of the family featuring in winning club photos right through to the 1950's.
1928 saw Vic Beaman captain the GB Water Polo Team at Amsterdam.
He served in the military during the First World War, and when he returned from duty he joined the Chester Swimming Club where he was a member until his death over 50 years later.
WINNING THROUGH THE YEARS
Over the decades, the baths and the Chester Swimming Club have produced some amazing quality swimmers as well as teaching the public to swim.
From the 1950s...
(Chester ladies swimming team 1954)
WINNING THROUGH THE YEARS
...Through to the 1970's and beyond, competitive and leisure swimming has been at the heart of Chester.
(Chester Championship Winners 1970)
CHANGE OF HANDS
In 1977, the baths were going to be closed with the opening of the new Northgate Area pool. However, as Northgate wasn't suitable for competitive swimming, the Chester Swimming Association was formed to take over the running of the baths as a charitable organisation.
(Olympic Swimming champion Divid Wilkie accepts the keys of the Baths from the Mayor of Chester)
A POOL WITH A BAR?
In 1978, the bar was opened by the Duke of Westminster, shown here. The bar area offers a great meeting space, and a place to unwind after club evenings.
Today, after a major renovation project in 2013, the baths are still run by the Chester Swimming Association which consists of Chester Swimming Club, The Chester Water Polo Club, The Chester Triathalon Club and the Chester Sub Aqua Club. But it's also open to the public for recreational swimming.
Come and join us or book a swim now!