^^Garston Baths in its present state^^
My association with Garston Baths began in my primary school. We would regularly take the short walk (in twos) for swimming practice and think nothing of walking past the pay area, into the changing cubicles with our partner, to emerge 5 minutes later, complete with Speedos and a flat belly to die for.
Those cubicles were privvy to some naughty goings on even back in my junior years. Each one of them had a hole about the size of a large coin, this served as somewhere to shout through to your mates and other things that would have got us instantly told off. We were kids .
Around the top of the pool area was a viewing gallery. If you had forgotten your kit (extremely rare back then) you were sent up there to watch the swimming session, if you bent over far enough, you could shout at your mates below getting changed in the cubicles . I lost count of how many times the fire brigade were called out to release a friend's trapped knee that had become swollen between the iron safety railings. I tried it once, unfortunately my knee wouldn't swell therefore it was easily removed.
Into the pool would be a huge jump, we never used the steps, they were only in the deep end anyway, we didn't use them then either. The swimming lesson followed, we could all swim at 8/9 years of age.
If you wanted a wee, its wasn't worth the trip out of the pool into the corner of the baths, standing on wet brown tiled floors. I will let you make your mind up about what we did.
Looking up from the pool, there was a glassed cafateria area which housed one arcade game unit and red plastic seats. We were too young to venture up the ornate stairs.
Below the cafe area were the showers. We never, ever showered but it did have a purpose. The showers were also at the deep end. It became our run - up so we could run at pace and dive in, proper scuba divers we were.
On the walls were those now infamous safety posters, memorable for the 'No Heavy Petting' rule, it always made us giggle.
I also remember the smell of bleach which I'm sure would be poured into the pool from a green hose pipe, whilst we were in there.
School swimming galas were held frequently, it was like the Olympics and the records that were set, some still stand today I'm sure.
On a weekend, me and my mate/s (9/10 years of age) would walk down on our own, to the baths for opening to be the first into the pool. Jumping in first was called 'breaking the jelly', we would race to be the first before anyone else. I would also give us the opportunity to share our space in the pool with the many cockroaches that had fallen from the roof during the night. We never thought anything of it, it was all part of the fun.
We would spend almost all day there, swimming, diving in, challenging each other to see who could touch the grid at the bottom of the deep end. I nearly got my finger stuck in it. We also played 'Jaws' quite alot.
During the early afternoon, the huge octopus inflatable would be brought out to everyone's delight. It would all kick off then as everyone raced to the top. They even got a blue slide later on.
Having got changed again, we would happily spend our 10 pences on the classic arcade games.
Walking out would hurt our eyes. A trip to the chippy would often follow.
I miss that swimming pool and don't know why it was demolished.