Denaby’s Playground Open – Air Baths for the People

October 1910

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 08 October 1910

Denaby’s Playground

Open-Air Baths for the People

Billington Takes the First Plunge.

Interesting Proceedings.

The Recreation Ground and the open-air bathing pool provided by the Denaby Parish Council, largely through the generosity of the Denaby and Cadeby Collieries Ltd., were  formally declared open on Thursday afternoon, under ideal weather conditions, by Mr. W. H. Chambers.

The attendance, which was not large, was affected by the cup-tie which was proceeding in the vicinity, between Denaby United and Allerton Bywater. The whole area of ground extends about five acres adjoins the Denaby United football field, and Is entered from Cliff View. It is conveyed by the Colliery Company to the Parish Council until the expiration of the Colliery Companies own lease, which is a matter of 65 years ahead. It is a highly desirable playground for the myriads of Denaby children who, up to the present, have had no suitable resort, and whose gambols in the main streets have made them a source and a subject of danger, from the passing traffic.

On this score alone, the virtual gift of the Colliery Company to the parish is a highly-valuable one, and has been appreciated as such by the members of the Perish Council, who are the people’s trustees of this latest acquisition. But the most interesting and attractive feature is the swimming bath, which has been provided by the Parish Council at a cost of £200. Mr. G. L. Robinson has had the work is hand, and has made a thoroughly good job of it. A corner of the Recreation Ground has been screened off by wooden partitions, and in the enclosure the bath is situated. The ground has been excavated to a depth of six feet at one end, and four at the other end, but the swimming depths range from five to three. A concrete floor has been laid and a concrete path, a yard wide, all round the edge of the bath. The sides are of glazed tiles and the bath looked uncommonly well as it threw back the rays of the afternoon sunshine. A diving platform had been erected at the deep end for exhibition work, and raised seats were provided on one side.

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The feature of the afternoon’s proceedings ‘ was a clever exhibition of swimming and diving by David Billington, the professional champion of the world: and Harry Crank, his associate, the wonderful boy diver.

These natatory artistes cams straight from Blackpool, where they have been performing all summer. They were engaged by Mr. W. Taylor. who had charge of the arrangements, and was M.C. for the afternoon. Billington commenced with a brisk quarter-mile swim, and was accompanied by Crank in last hundred yards. Then the swimmers gave exhibitions alternately. Crank gave exhibitions of back and front somersault diving, swallow diving, handstand diving, and “walking the plank.”

Billington, who confined himself to swimming, gave a wonderfully varied exhibition, which included all the most popular strokes—the trudgeon, the side, back, and over-arm strokes, and the great “crawl” stroke, so-called probably because of the high rate of speed which it produces. He also showed a lot of trick swimming, including imitations of a water-wheel, ship-wreck, a duck, a cyclist, rolling log and be walked , some distance in the bath on his hands.

He wound up the exhibition with the “crawl” stroke which he has won all his scratch races, and ploughed through the bath at a great rate.

Mr. Taylor announced that Billington is prepared to swim against any man in the world, in a race of from a quarter to ten miles for from £100 to £1000 a-side. We understand from conversation with the famous swimmer, that he is particularly anxious to meet the well-known Australian amateur, Beaurepaire who has been putting is such a lot of fine work, before he leaves for the Antipodes. If he is unsuccessful, he will hunt him in Australia next year. He would like to race Beaurepaire for a thousand pounds, and should he win he promises to make Beaurepaire a present of £200, which sounds like laying five to four. Billington is a native of Bacup and is considered the most brilliant swimmer in the world. Crank, who is also at the head of his branch of the profession, hails from Bolton (Lancs.) The exhibition swimming occupied about half an hour.

The water for the baths Is connected directly with the Colliery Company’s reservoir at the top of the hill, and as the water is supplied free by the Company, the coat of upkeep is at a minimum. The bath is so arranged that dirty water gives place to clean, and so the bath will never get into as offensive condition. Besides which, it will be cleaned out at regular intervals. It has a holding capacity of 45,000 gallons. It will be used by the school children, over thousand in number, and, indeed, is not exclusively devoted to the township of Denaby Main. If necessary, arrangement, can be made for instruction. Dressing sheds have been erected, and towels and costumes can be hired of the bath attendant, W. Tucker. The bath will be open from seven o’clock until dusk in the winter, and from six o’clock in the summer. It will be closed for a period at the end of October. Monday will be exclusively ladies’ day, and the rest of the week it will be available for male use. It will be closed on Sunday.

After the principal exhibition on Thursday a local swimmer named Brammer also executed a few dive’, which were much appreciated, and the local schoolboys, stripping with feverish haste, were soon enjoying their first plunge, and the bath was quickly an animated spectacle, full of merry, laughing, splashing juvenility. Considering the deficiency of local bathing facilities, it was astonishing to entire the proportion of the youngsters who were already able to swim.

It should be mentioned that the idea of a swimming bath was first suggested by Mr. H.S. Witty an old member of the Parish Council, and It was largely through his energy and perseverance that the idea materialised into the form of negotiations. It is interesting to note, and a golden tribute to the economical management of public affairs in Denaby, that, to meet the expenditure connected with the establishment of the public baths, the Council levied the second penny rate of their career.