Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Diving into the archives
I LEARNT to swim in an indoor, heated leisure centre in the 1970s. Previous generations had it a bit more al fresco. This photo shows members of the Swan Swimming Club at the Eagle Baths in the Heigham area of Norwich in - we think - 1926. The diving board was on the Anderson’s Meadow side of the river – we’re looking upstream to the Mile Cross Road bridge. Gibraltar Gardens would be on the far bank behind the trees.
Amazingly enough there were three “swimming baths” on this stretch of river. The Dolphin Baths belonged to the pub of the same name, near Dolphin Bridge. The Eagle Baths were, I think, named after one laundry half way up Heigham Street, while the Swan Swimming Club took its name from another laundry on the site of the modern Old Laundry Court. The Swan Laundry, to be fair, did build an indoor pool, heated with their own steam.
By our standards the outdoor pools appear to have been very rudimentary.Some were concrete tanks within the river, others had a tiny bit more privacy.This picture comes courtesy of Richard and Bridget Belson who have provided me with a huge amount of info on the first swimming clubs in Norwich. Bizarre as it may seem today, the Wensum at Heigham used to be full of swimmers.
* If this picture rings any bells, email me at email@example.com