Monday, 16 November 2009


Open Air Swimming PoolThis blurry picture is a still from a home movie circa 1960. The sequence was shot during a beauty contest at the Open-Air Bathing Pool which was on the prom (more or less opposite Bath Street); the ladies are unknown. I've been waiting for an excuse to use the picture, so here it is to illustrate a query from Faith Puleston Jones who recalls a character associated with the pool in 1950s and '60s. Faith says:

"We went to the pool either from school or in free time, and there was always an announcer. She was a woman of indeterminate years with a rather well-focused speaking voice that she used for commenting during shows and generally keeping order over the loudspeakers. She was tall and slim with a straight back, and she had (bleached?) blonde hair, presumably long, entwined in a severe hair-do. She may have been a dancer in her youth; maybe she grew too tall to become a professional. My mother lived in Russell Road for many years and I can remember this announcer striding past our house. I wonder if anybody has some information about her."


TUE 17th NOV 2009 UPDATE: Bill Ellis reports that the lady in question was Miss Newport who taught music and elocution at the infants school he attended: the convent school in Russell Road. The school has been demolished. It was near the junction with Queens Walk.

Jane Shuttle thinks Miss Newport's first name was Iris or Irene. Jane and her sister Sue (maiden names Jackson) were members of the swimming club and everyone called the pool 'The Baths'. The water was unheated – wouldn't suit young swimmers today!

THU 19th NOV 2009 UPDATE: Gaynor Williams confirms that Miss Newport's first name was Irene, and says Miss Newport was a very accomplished pianist who played for classes and examinations at Madam Lewis' School of Dancing, Mount Road.

THU 7th JAN 2010 UPDATE: Doreen Jones says Irene Newport was from The Wirral and during World War 2 played piano for the Manchester Repertory Company which was based at Rhyl Pavilion.

TUE 9th FEB 2010 UPDATE: Mike Demack reports, "The lady in the foreground with purple hat may be Margaret Hough, later Wilson. I recall that she worked at R.L. Davies' in High Street; it was a haberdashers and ladieswear shop which may or may not have been involved in sponsorship at the baths. I recall that the promenade clock at the top of High Street used to be referred to as R.L.’s clock."

WED 15th APR 2015 UPDATE: A note from the files of the late Glyn Rees confirms that the promenade clock, or clock tower if you like, was a gift from Councillor and Mrs. R.L. Davies.