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