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Edinburgh Recollections

Entertainment

Swimming Baths

Please click on one of the links below, or scroll down this page.

1.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Warrender Swimming Baths

2.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Dr Guthrie's Baths

3.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Infirmary Street + Portobello Baths

4.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Sciennes School Baths

5.

George SMITH
British Colombia, Canada

Craiglockhart School Swimming Classes

6.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Bruntsfield  Primary School Baths

7.

George SMITH
British Colombia, Canada

Nancy Riach and Miss King

8.

Hugh BOYD
North Yorkshire, England

Bruntsfield  Primary School Baths

9.

Elizabeth FRASER
(née Betty SIMPSON)
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Broughton Primary School?

10.

George SMITH
British Colombia, Canada

Bruntsfield  Primary School Baths

11.

Elizabeth FRASER
(née Betty SIMPSON)
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Stockbridge Baths  Nancy Riach

12.

George SMITH
British Colombia, Canada

Warrender Baths  soldiers

13.

George SMITH
British Colombia, Canada

Dalry Baths  Ned Barnie

14.

Bryan GOURLAY
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Ned Barnie

15.

Walter BARNIE
Oxford, Massachusetts, USA

Ned Barnie

16.

Archie FOLEY
Portobello, Edinburgh

Ned Barnie

17.

Peter STUBBS
Edinburgh

Ned Barnie

18.

Carol IRWIN
Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland

-  Portobello Open Air Pool

19.

George SMITH
British Colombia, Canada

-  Ned Barnie

20.

Miles CUMMING
Telford, Edinburgh

-  Portobello Open Air Pool

21.

Walter Lyle HUME
Cowes, Isle of Wight, England

North Berwick Open Air Pool

22.

Ian SIMPSON
Richmond, Surrey, England

Dalry Baths

23.

Ian SIMPSON
Richmond, Surrey, England

Portobello Open Air Pool

24.

Eric GOLD
East London, England

Infirmary Street Baths

25.

Alan FENTIMAN
Bournemouth, Dorset, England

Warrender + Dr Guthrie's Baths

26.

George CLYDESDALE
Edinburgh

Doctor Bell's School Baths

27.

George CLYDESDALE
Edinburgh

Doctor Bell's School Baths

28.

George CLYDESDALE
Edinburgh

Ned Barnie

29

Elizabeth FRASER
née Betty SIMPSON
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Glenogle Baths

30

Elizabeth FRASER
née Betty SIMPSON
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Glenogle Baths - Photos

31

Alastair Whitwell
Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland

Dr Bell's Swimming Baths

Swimming Certificates

32

Donnie GRAHAM
Zwickau, Germany

Broughton School Baths

Royal High School Baths

33

Danny CALLAGHAN
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Glenogle Baths

-  Refurbishment
-  Swimming Sessions
-  Cubicles
-  Private Baths

34

Lilian YOUNG
Hamilton Square, New Jersey, USA

Bruntsfield School Swimming Baths

-  Swimming Lessons
-  Hiding
-  Changing
-  Nancy Riach

35

Brian DONALDSON
Blackburn, Lancashire, England

Nancy Riach

 

Recollections

1.

Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who wrote:

Warrender Baths

To the Baths

 "One of our unforgettable exploits was our weekly visit to the swimming baths.

Between the ages of about 9 and 12, Saturday afternoon was for swimming at Warrender Baths. We’d race up to Salisbury Place, towels firmly under our ‘oxters’, and jump on the No. 5 tram to Marchmont."

Into the Water

 "We were generally first in the queue at the turnstile, desperate to get in, before rushing in to get the best changing booths alongside the pool.

The ‘mandatory’ shower, before being allowed in the pool, was taken on the run at 20 mph, then we hit the water and exploded into action.

We stayed as far away as we could from the big lumps of smelly, carbolic soap, which floated menacingly around our feet in the communal showers, designed to take off the week's grind in one sweep."

Brylcreem

"In the 1950s, there were no timed sessions, and no girls or women allowed on Saturday.

We went in at one o’clock, and came out like shriveled prunes about 5.30 pm.

On the way out, we paused at the Brylcreem machine. An old-penny, pushed in the slot, quickly squirted a big splodge of the greasy, white stuff in the palm of your hand, which we applied enthusiastically to our soaking wet hair."

Broken Biscuits

"Before catching the tram back home, we hit the Edinburgh and Dumfriesshire Dairies’ shop, at the top of Marchmont Road, for a bag of broken biscuits – then to the fruit shop next door for some chipped fruit – generally bruised apples and pears, the assistant thankfully cutting off the ‘bad bits’ first."

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  April 17, 2006

 

Recollections

2.

Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who wrote:

Doctor Guthrie's Baths

Certificates

"My friend, and I, soon became quite swift at the swimming game, and managed to collect a few winning certificates at the Cubs, and later, the Scout swimming galas.

The Cub galas were held at Dr Guthrie's swimming pool at the top of Liberton Brae, long replaced by a smart housing development.

Dr Guthrie's school was a correctional centre for boys that needed some form of care and attention. It was on the left-hand side of Liberton Brae, heading south, about 50 yards before reaching the crossroads leading to Liberton Kirk (left) and the Braids (right).

Trams

This spot was also the tram terminus where the tramcars turned for the scary journey back down the hill towards Edinburgh. Many's a time, sitting upstairs at the front, I thought we'd never make the corner as the tram swayed from side to side at some considerable speed. I often expected to finish up in someone's front garden on the sharp turn at the steepest point on the brae.

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  April 17 + April 20,  2006

 

Recollections

3.

Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who wrote:

Infirmary Street and Portobello Baths

"Occasionally, we would make forays to other pools – Infirmary Street, a bit down-market we thought, compared to Warrender – or the Portobello open-air pool where you were guaranteed to come up with an empty crisp bag over your face, or a mouthful of leaves or other unpleasantries.

 It took us a few visits, and many false starts, before we plucked up the courage to go off the high-dive though.

Sometimes we’d venture as far afield as Portobello in-door baths, near Joppa, for the salt-water experience."

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  April 17 + April 20,  2006

 

Recollections

4.

Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who wrote:

Sciennes School Baths

Jimmy McCracken

"Our primary school swimming lessons were at Sciennes School, the only primary school around with its own pool.

Here, we came across the legendary  swimming instructor, Jimmy McCracken. With his military bearing and thin moustache, and always resplendent in his white shirt, white flannels and white shoes, he taught (or scared) thousands of kids how to swim and dive over many years.

Many of your readers may remember Jimmy McCracken. I know he was at Sciennes school in the mid-1930s, when my aunt went to the school, and he was still there in the mid-1950s, or later."

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland,  April 17 + April 20,  2006

I've just received my first e-mail from somebody who remembers Jimmy McCracken!    -  Peter Stubbs,  April 18,  2006

.. and a second e-mail about when he was Pool Superintendent at North Berwick Open Air Pool.        -  Peter Stubbs,  July 28,  2006

 

Recollections

5.

George T Smith

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to George T Smith who wrote:

Craiglockhart School Swimming Classes

"I learned to swim in the early 40's while I was a pupil at  Craiglockhart Primary. We walked  once a week to the school baths at  a school whose name I no longer remember somewhere near Boroughmuir."

George T Smith, British Columbia, Canada April 21, 2006

 

Recollections

6.

Bryan Gourlay

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay replied:

"The only primary school near Boroughmuir, George might have gone to for swimming, is Bruntsfield.  I've no idea if it has a swimming pool. The school is still very much there - one street behind the main road at Bruntsfield - I think first left as you go down Viewforth on the way to the old Boroughmuir building."

 George Smith wrote:

"The recent reply from Bryan Gourlay confirms my memory of the location of the baths.  It must be Bruntsfield school."     April 27, 2006

 

Recollections

7.

George T Smith

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

George T Smith wrote:

Nancy Riach and Miss King

George Smith wrote:

"There, we were taught by Nancy Riach  a strict  female form in a black swimming costume. She was I believe an Olympic competitor (Munich?) originating  from Airdrie."      April 21, 2006

George Smith sent a further note a few days later

Nancy Riach and Miss King

"Was it Nancy Riach or not?  I am now doubtful, as it appears she died aged 20  in 1947. She was pulled from the water at the European championships in Monaco: she had contracted polio. My recollection is of an  older woman.

I wonder if anyone can recollect who the instructor was?

 

Recollections

8.

Hugh Boyd

North Yorkshire

Thank you to Hugh Boyd who replied:

Bruntsfield Primary School

George Smith wrote:

"I would like to think that the school that George Smith remembers with the swimming pool in the basement was Bruntsfield Primary school which I attended in the late 50s.

We were taught to swim by Miss King who if I recall correctly had a Silver medal from one of the past Olympic games."

Hugh Boyd, North Yorkshire,  June 4, 2006

 

Recollections

9.

Elizabeth Fraser (née Betty Simpson)

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Thank you to Elizabeth Fraser who replied:

Broughton Primary School?

"Possibly  the basement swimming pool could have been Broughton Primary"

Elizabeth Fraser (née Simpson), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia:  July 26, 2006

In fact, it seems more likely that the baths were at Bruntsfield Primary School.  See recollections 8 (above) and 10 (below).

-  Peter Stubbs:  June 9, 2006.

 

Recollections

10.

Nancy

Edinburgh

Thank you to Nancy, Edinburgh, who gave the same school as Hugh Boyd suggested, above.

Nancy wrote:

Bruntsfield Primary School

"Regarding the swimming instructor at Bruntsfield Primary, it was a Miss King when I attended in the 1960s, and she always wore a medal around her neck."

Nancy, Edinburgh,  June 9, 2006

 

Recollections

11.

Elizabeth Fraser (née Betty Simpson)

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Thank you to Elizabeth Fraser who replied to George T Smith's message (7. above):

Stockbridge Baths

Nancy Riach

"I remember Nancy Riach demonstrating at Stockbridge swimming pool. I believe she contracted polio some years later."

Elizabeth Fraser (née Simpson), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia:  July 26, 2006

 

Recollections

12.

George T Smith

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to George T Smith who wrote

Warrender Baths

Soldiers

"We later went on to Warrender  where we shared the pool with soldiers  from Redford who were learning basic swimming and tended to jump in, in baggy gym shorts at the shallow end and make mighty splashes and a  lot of noise.

"I too remember the obligatory shower and foot bath before entering the pool. "

George Smith, British Colombia, Canada,  April 21,  2006

 

Recollections

13.

George T Smith

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to George T Smith who wrote

Dalry Baths

 Ned Barnie

"A further memory is of Ned Barnie doing a demonstration swim at a Boy Scout Gala at Dalry baths where he amazed us all by doing a Johnny  Weismuller (Tarzan) underwater swim of a full length and a return part-length. I think he was a former Channel swimmer."

George Smith, British Colombia, Canada,  April 21,  2006

 

Recollections

14.

Bryan Gourlay

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay replied:

 Ned Barnie

"As George says, Ned Barnie was a very famous bloke, around Edinburgh, for his many Channel swims and involvement with kids.  He lived in Portobello. Ned is the older chap on the right of the picture."

Ned Barney  -  Portobello Channel Swimmer ©

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

 

Recollections

15.

Walter Barnie

Oxford Massachusetts, USA

Thank you to Walter Barnie who wrote:

Ned Barnie

"Ned was my grandfather’s cousin.  My grandfather moved here  from Edinburgh in 1919.  I remember him speaking about Ned growing up.

I must have inherited the swimming gene as I swim five days a week. However, I only do three miles a week, not like Ned.."

Walter Barnie, Oxford, Massachusetts, USA:  August 7+13, 2006

 

Recollections

16.

Archie Foley

Portobello, Edinburgh

Thank you to Archie Foley who wrote:

Ned Barnie

"On 16h July this year, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at 7 Straiton Place, Portobello  where Ned lived for many years,

Archie Foley, Portobello, Edinburgh:  August 18 + 19, 2006

George Smith, British Colombia, Canada,  April 21,  2006

 

Recollections

17.

Peter Stubbs

Edinburgh

Ned Barnie

 I visited Straiton Place on August 20, 2006, and took a few photographs of the plaque, and of  the buildings that it has been attached to.

Please click the thumbnail images below to see a couple of these photos.

 Straiton Place, Portobello  -  Plaque to Ned Barnie, Channel Swimmer  -  2006 ©       Straiton Place, Portobello  -  Looking East  -  2006 ©

-  Peter Stubbs,  August 22, 2006

 

Recollections

18.

Carol Irwin

Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland

Thank you to Carol Irwin who wrote:

Portobello Open Air Pool

'The Waves'

Portobello Open Air Pool - empty - 1985 ©

"Oh joy!!  What fond memories I had from the open air swimming pool!! It's where i learned to swim!!. Long summers, penny biscuits, swimming all day... you could even bring as favourite record to be played over the P.A.!! oh joy!!

I remember a lovely chap called Ned who was a channel swimmer!!. I also remember the famous announcement every hour.. 

"THE WAVES WILL BE ON IN 5 MINUTES TIME''

....Heaven...

Carole Irwin:  Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland,  March 24, 2006

 

Recollections

19.

George T Smith

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to George T Smith who replied ot Carol Irwin (18 above).

George wrote:

Ned Barnie

"Carole Irwin's memory of 'a lovely guy called Ned' was possibly one of Ned Barnie whom I remember inspired us Boy Scouts with a demonstration of swimming at Dalry Baths where he swam underwater for over a length."

George Smith, British Colombia, Canada,  March 25,  2006

 

Recollections

20.

Miles Cumming

Telford, Edinburgh

Thank you to Miles Cumming who wrote:

Portobello Open Air Pool

"I remember well my visits to the pool.  It was the anticipation which was exciting as a child.  I can vividly recall the sight that greeted me after emerging from the darkness of the changing rooms - the brightness of the sunlight and blueness of the huge pool before me ...

On my final visit I had learned to swim, but the water was just too COLD!!"

Miles Cumming, Telford, Edinburgh, June 5, 2007

 

Recollections

21.

Walter Lyle Hume

Cowes, Isle of Wight, England

Walter Lyle Hume,  Isle of Wight, wrote:

North Berwick Open Air Pool

Mr McCracken

"James McCracken, swimming teacher at Sciennes primary school, was also Pond Superintendant at North Berwick open air pool, very popular on Gala Days.

His life-saving assistant, Ernie, always caused howls of laughter when tipped into the water...........

James McCracken was addressed as Mr, never Jimmy.  Very happy days which seemed to be enjoyed by all."

Walter Lyle Hume, Cowes, Isle of Wight, England:   July 28,  2006

 

Recollections

22.

Ian Simpson

Richmond, Surrey, England

Ian Simpson, Richmond, Surrey, England, wrote:

Dalry Baths

Miss King

"Miss King  taught us life saving  at Bruntsfield, circa 1960.   My nearest pool was Dalry in Caledonian Crescent ."

Ian Simpson, Richmond, Surrey, England:   December 2,  2006

 

Recollections

23.

Ian Simpson

Richmond, Surrey, England

Ian Simpson, Richmond, Surrey, England, wrote:

Portobello Open Air Pool

"Aged 14,  I was proud to have dived off the top board at Porty, 10 meters up with the wind catching you, and the top of the buses visible outside.   But going down into 15 feet of salt water you felt safe."

Andy Hunter

"I just lost my  old  swimming pal Andy Hunter  who succumbed to 'The Big C'."

Ian Simpson, Richmond, Surrey, England:   December 2,  2006

 

Recollections

24.

Eric Gold

East London

Thank you to Eric Gold for sending me his recollections.

Infirmary Street Baths

Please click the link below to read Eric's comments:

Edinburgh Old Town:  Infirmary Street Baths

 

Recollections

25.

Alan Fentiman

Bournemouth, Dorset, England

Alan Fentiman who says he enjoyed reading Bryan Gourlay's notes on his visits to Warrender Baths (1 above)and Dr Guthries Baths ( 2 above).

Bryan wrote:

Warrender Baths

Saturday Mornings

"My sisters, friends and I often went to Warrender Baths on a Saturday morning, mid 1960's.  I can't recall how much it was but, I suspect, 6d."

Hourly Shifts

"The swimming was in hourly shifts, and whether you got a good changing cubicle or not depended on  where you were in the queue.

We usually got in the region of 50 minutes in the water before the whistle would go and the baths would be cleared. It was generally mayhem and you would have to be very lucky to get enough space to actually try to swim."

Hot Chocolate

"Bryan enjoyed the Brylcreem when he had finished but we looked forward to hot chocolate from the machine, if we had any money left!"

Dr Guthrie's Baths

Gracemount Primary School

"As I attended Gracemount Primary School, we were sent along Lasswade Road to Dr Guthries for our swimming sessions.

My main memories are that the pool was smaller than Warrender - and colder.  I can't recall how we got along to Dr Guthries; maybe the school put on a bus? "

Gracemount Secondary School

"It's interesting; I can recall that Gracemount Secondary school had a swimming pool.  I wonder why we didn't get sent there?  I only remember being in that pool during summer holidays when I was being taught to swim

Here is a copy of my elementary swimming certificate."

    Copy of a Swimming Certificate awarded to Alan Fentiman in 1966-67 ©

Alan Fentiman, Bournemouth, Dorset, England:  August 12,2008

 

Recollections

26.

George Clydesdale

Edinburgh

Thank you to George Clydesdale for sending his recollections.

George wrote:

Doctor Bell's School Baths

"Does anyone remember going to Docky Bell (Doctor Bells School) for swimming lessons from Cooper Street School (now gone)?"

George Clydesdale, Edinburgh:  Message left in EdinPhoto guestbook:  August 15, 2008.

 

Recollections

27.

George Clydesdale

Edinburgh

George Clydesdale added:

Doctor Bell's School Baths

"Miss Chapman was the swimming teacher at Dr Bell's School.

She would get us to jump into the pool and try swimming to the far end. She used to wear a long red rubber apron, down to her feet, and would walk along beside us

If you looked like going under, she would put a bamboo pole under your armpit, just enough to keep you up, but swimming."

George Clydesdale, Edinburgh:  Message left in EdinPhoto guestbook:  August 18, 2008.

 

Recollections

28.

George Clydesdale

Edinburgh

George Clydesdale added:

Portobello Open Air Pool

Ned Barnie

"I've just read the comments above about Portobello Open Air Pool and Ned Barnie.

I never met the gent, but he was well known for going down to the beach at Portobello, early each morning, and swimming in the sea, summer and winter.

I also believe he was a teacher at DK (David Kilpatrick's) school."

George Clydesdale, Edinburgh:  Message left in EdinPhoto guestbook:  August 18, 2008.

 

Recollections

29.

Elizabeth Fraser (née Betty Simpson)

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Thank you to Elizabeth Fraser who wrote:

Glenogle Baths

"We were taken to Glenogle Baths, between Glenogle Road and Saxe Coburg Place.

The 'swimmers' were attached by a wire  to an overhead wire. We were given water wings - two waterproof cotton things on a band which went under your chest with the wings floating.

We were then 'helped' across the pool by the attachment held by the teacher - and of course 'shivery bites' which were, indeed, shivery bites.  Each shower head seemed to have to accommodate five or six kids at once!"

Elizabeth Fraser (née Simpson), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia:  February 12, 2009

 Recollections

30.

Elizabeth Fraser (née Betty Simpson)

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Elizabeth added:

Glenogle Baths - Photos

"I do hope that, when the refurbishment is completed,  we might see some 'before and after' shots.  I'd love them as a memento for my genealogy project.

I can still smell the place and remember the showers - never really enough to warm us up - not forgetting the shivery bites."

Elizabeth Fraser (née Simpson), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia:  November 17, 2009

 Recollections

31.

Alastair Whitwell

Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland

Alastair wrote:

Dr Bell's Baths

"I was a pupil of Trinity Academy Primary and then Secondary school (1955 -1967)I well remember clutching my bus token and getting on the bus on Ferry Road to go down to Dr Bell's Baths in Great Junction Street, Leith."

The Frontage of Dr Bell's School, Great Junction Street, Leith  -  Photograph taken Novemeber 2005 ©

Swimming Certificates

"I learned to swim there and recall that we had to be able to swim a breadth in order to gain the Elementary Swimming Certificate. As the baths were so small, it probably only took about 3 or 4 strokes to complete a breadth!

Then the challenge of the Intermediate and Advanced Certificates.  I think the Advanced involved diving to the bottom in the 'deep end' and retrieving a big rubber brick.

As I had not yet mastered the art of opening my eyes under water, I remember trying to pinpoint where the brick lay on the bottom and then scrabbling about trying to locate it before I ran out of breath. Suffice to say that I eventually succeeded and gained the certificate.  I still have all the certificates to this day!"

Alastair Whitwell, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland.
Message posted in EdinPhoto guestbook, 29 Mar 2010

 

Recollections

32.

Donnie Graham

Zwickau, Germany

Thank you to Donnie Graham who added:

Broughton School Baths

"I, too, like Danny Callaghan can remember the swimming pool in the basement of Broughton School, and being taught to swim there.

Another watery experience I once had was when I attended Bellevue.  I remember the gym teacher for the lads.  He was always preparing us for great adventures ahead. (I think they had given up on us being academics and they were channeling our energies in another direction.)"

Royal High School Baths

"He once wanted to take the whole class canoeing on the Water of Leith.  To prepare us beforehand, he took us all up to the Old Royal High School at the bottom of Calton Hill, where they had a pool and canoes.

After laying one on the water he instructed us, when your turn came, to get into the canoe whereupon he would flip it over.  The deal was to remain upside down in the water and with your hand tap three times on the bottom of the canoe, before getting out - for safety reasons he told us!

The panic set in at just the thought of it.  We were all fighting each other to get to back of the queue.  Needless to say, after that, he never did take us canoeing."

Donnie Graham , Zwickau, Germany, April 12, 2010

 

Recollections

33.

Danny Callaghan

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Thank you to Danny Callaghan who wrote:

Glenogle Baths

Refurbishment

   Glenogle Baths, Stockbridge, Edinburgh  -  Following refurbishment, 2010 ©

"Congratulations to the Council in creating a wonderful upgrading of Glenogle.   I spent many a happy hour or two there as a youngster."

Swimming Sessions

"As a cub and scout we were given, or purchased, Concession Passes.  These allowed us into the city pools, cheap.     They did not operate a band system like most pools today.  If it was quiet you could stay for hours and end up like a prune.  When busy, which would be often, there would be a queue outside and they emptied the whole pool after an hour or so.

When I first used to go, there were separate sessions for males and females, but then they introduced 'mixed bathing' as the norm.   There was a diving platform at the deep end."

Cubicles

"The changing cubicles were down either side of the pool and there were no clothes lockers.  You just left your clothes in the cubicle.    This did lead to some thefts.    I once had a towel stolen.  Another time, it was my shorts, went home with my wet towel wrapped round me. 

The females' cubicles were on the left and male on the right. The cubicles had half-height doors which was not a problem before the mixed bathing.    However, being boys after we came out of the swim we would go up to the balcony and look down to the girls changing in their cubicles. There would be a few shouts of complaint from the girls and the attendants would come and chuck us out.    They eventually fitted canvas curtains to the top of the girls' cubicles

At very busy times, when the cubicles were full, we changed and left our clothes in the Club Room.  We did not like doing this as was good chance of theft."

Private Baths

"On the balcony there were private baths.  This was at a time when many houses had no bath.     The baths were huge and filled from taps from outside, when your time was up the attendant would pull the plug from outside and empty the bath.  Time to get dried !"

Danny Callaghan, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland:  July 21, 2010

 

Recollections

34.

Lilian Young

Hamilton Square, New Jersey, USA

Thank you to Lilian Young who saw reference on this page to Bruntsfield School swimming baths and to the swimmers Ellen King and Nancy Riach.

Lilian wrote:

Bruntsfield School Swimming Baths

Swimming Lessons

"When I attended Boroughmuir School, part of the curriculum was swimming.  We had to walk over to Bruntsfield School where we had these lessons.

The instructor was, indeed, Ellen King.  She and my Mother swam competitively for the Zenith Swim Club in Edinburgh.   They were close friends until after I left Boroughmuir and we moved to the US.

 Miss King was a hard taskmaster and she did indeed wear a medal around her neck. I'm not sure but it may have been an Olympic medal as she swam in competitions."

Hiding

"After many weeks of attempting to hide from Miss King in the locker/shower rooms as I was absolutely terrified of the water, Miss. King told my Mother that I would never be a swimmer, and that they should stop pushing me into swimming.  Over the years, other experts attempted to get me to swim, but i got wise and wouldn't purchase a swimsuit."

Changing

"When we went to Bruntsfield, we had to change in small cabana type rooms, then run into the warm shower, then jump into the freezing pool.

Once our lesson was over, we would run back into the warm showers again to defrost, then we would be allowed to get dressed and eat our shivery bite ( a sandwich)."

Nancy Riach

"Nancy Riach was a young woman who was also a competitive swimmer, but I'm not sure which club she belonged to.  During the height of the polio scare, she was pulled from the pool and rushed to the hospital and she died.

I'm not sure just how long it was before she did die, but I do recall being told we were not to go swimmingI loved that instruction from my Mother.

There was quite a to do about polio at that time, but I don't think the polio shots had been invented then."

Lilian Young, Hamilton Square, New Jersey, USA:  June 14, 2012

 

Recollections

35.

Brian Donaldson

Blackburn, Lancashire, England

Thank you to Brian Blackburn who wrote:

Nancy Riach

"As a boy at George Watsons Preparatory School, I was taken to see the great swimmer Nancy Riach at the school baths.  I was told she was then 17 so it may have been still in wartime.

I can still remember what a horrible shock it was to everyone when she died.

It seemed to take her about four strokes (crawl) to go from one end of our baths to the other - that impression of elegant power has remained with me to this day!"

Brian Donaldson, Blackburn, Lancashire, England:  September 24, 2014

 

 

Recollections - Other topics

Recollections - Contributors

 

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