1972

Domestic Heat 6 - Luton, Great Britain
Venue: Outdoor Pool, Wardown Baths Centre, Biscot, Luton, Bedfordshire

Wardown Baths Centre Outdoor Pool - 1935 OpeningThe venue for this domestic heat was the Baths Centre in Luton which was opened in June 1935 (the photograph to the right was taken at that time). Originally, it was solely an open-air pool and paddling area for children, but in 1963 the local council began building the Wardown Swimming and Leisure Centre adjacent to it which in itself included a heated indoor pool. This was completed and opened in 1965. As European travel and foreign holidays became more widely available and more fashionable in the mid-1970s and with Britain’s not so sunny climate, the open-air pool began to be used less and less and by the beginning of the 1980s the pool had fallen in to disuse and was finally closed to the public in 1981.

The plan was to sell the land for local housing but this proved more difficult than expected, and during the first few years following the closure, the emptied pool was ‘opened’ as a skateboarding area for local children. However, with rules set down in the Health and Safety Act, and with the possible citations of legal action for injuries sustained, the area was sealed off at the end of the 1980s. The site lay untouched for the next 30 years and in mid-2012 the dilapidated remnants of the pool could still be seen from the balcony of the Leisure Centre. A 2011 satellite view shows this too:

The parlous state that the baths had been allowed to fall into over the years is all too apparent in the video recording below. It dates from 2012 and is included here by the kind permission of Des Brittain.

The council’s plans for the site were finally realised, but in a different guise. Demolition of the site (including the heated indoor pool) commenced in the autumn of 2012 to make room for a new education facility. In September 2013, the new River Bank Primary School, a brand new Active Education Academy Trust Free School for boys and girls, opened its doors on the site which encompassed both of the old swimming pools.

JSFnetGB Venues researched by
Alan Hayes, Christos Moustakas, Neil Storer and JSFnet Websites