|Currently being offered on Ebay - taken outside of Public Hall (Click over to enlarge)|
|Peel Tower, Holcombe by Liz Taylor|
When the baths were opened in 1936 my dad was unemployed and had time on his hands, so he attended the baths over the following months and taught himself to swim. In later years when my brother, myself and cousin Bryan were old enough he took us along to the baths, we got used to the water but we couldn't swim, so we were made members of the swimming club. We also went with school groups once a week, in the last year or two at St. James. Our teacher at these sessions was Mrs. Doris Redmond and she was as I remember very strict with us. When you had swum a length you were given a small black and white piece of tape for Mum to sew on your costume so that everyone knew you could swim. I preferred going to the Swimming Club on Thursday evening where there was a more relaxed feeling. Dad always went with us and had a swim later on, he wore a proper swimming costume with muscle back spaces at the back, it was navy blue. When the club was doing well in the league a year or two later, he bought a pair of the teams green and white cotton trunks.
There was always a lot of children there from Rawtenstall, as there was no swimming pool there. The pool was open until 8 o'clock on some nights and was always full of lots of children. Most of my friends could swim and we always enjoyed going to the baths. If I remember rightly at that time the entrance fee was 2d for a child and 4d for an adult, and it costs 1d to borrow a towel. If you won a race at the annual gala you maybe the luck winner of a 6 month contract that enabled you to get in free.
We played teams from other towns on a regular basis, as well as going to these towns to play a return match. We went to Burnley, Blackburn, Preston, Lancaster as well as others. We went to Blackpool Cocker Street baths and I always remember this as the water was saltwater. When we had done our swim we didn't stay to cheer our men on in the polo match, we always went off to find the nearest chip shop. The coaches we went on were nearly always George Hoyle's and we always had a sing song on the way home.
The schoolboys medley race was always the first event, one boy swimming 50 yards breaststroke, crawl, backcrawl and then the last one 100 yards crawl. Next came the ladies 50 yards breaststroke, then 50 yards crawl, 50 yards backcrawl and 100 yards front crawl. The men followed with the same races. Then the ladies and men's squadron races, Then came a short interval before the polo match.
Some of the people I remember from the boys races are Eric and Steven Moden, Sean White, Colin Wallwork, Peter Jenkins, Alec Fearfull, Harry Moore, Gordon Barnes, Bryan Gudgeon (cousin), Ralph Clark (brother). The men I remember are - Norbert Honey, Tom and Jim McIntyre, Tony O'Connor, Robin Touhey, Jack Warburton, Jimmy Dunne, Richard Barlow, Jack Ashton, Albert Holden and Gerard Conboy and other ones I have forgotton - sorry! My memories of the ladies and girls - the Hayman sisters, Gladys Dunne (later Touhey), Florence Green, Gillian Bowman, Angela Honey, Moya White, N.McIntyre, Pat Lythe, Audrey Byers, Winifred Nelson, Molly McGarrigan and many names I cannot remember - sorry.
When it was the Annual Gala usually September or October there was always a fun session when the men dressed in silly clothes and jumped off the high boards and made big splashes, and there was a Mills and Workshops race as well.
I have a battered programme for the 10th Annual Gala - 1951, price threepence, I can try to copy it if you want one Bryan, let me know. I also have the original committee picture that I lent to the RFP some years ago, that is on facebook, as well as my Dad holding his prize that he won for the verans race (this is in one of Chris Aspin's books) I also have a photo of my sister Jeanne and her swimming team with trophy, I think this must be an early one as she only looks about 10 or so, they must have gone to the pool as soon as it was opened, as she was born in 1927, she would be about 9 or so when it opened and I wasn't even born - shshsh! This picture is a bit blurred, but if you wana copy I will do my best. The people on it are also named on the back. I have just found four of dad's membership cards and with committee details if you are interested let me know and I'll pass them on.
Signed: Marie Ives