Beccles River Bathing Place 1905
Highlights and Early History of River Bathing at Beccles
Test your knowledge at the end!
1862 WARNING: To Bathers. All persons who are found bathing in the RIVER WAVENEY between the Smelt House and 200 yards below Beccles Bridge after 9 o’clock in the morning, will be PROSECUTED according to law.
1867 COUNCIL: Public Bathing Place suggested.
1873 Saw the purchase of the Old Granary on the banks of the river Waveney in Puddingmoor for the sum of £300. The building was to be used as a dressing room for people bathing in the river. This was the beginning of the history of organised Outdoor Swimming in Beccles. The old bathing place still much used.
1874 Council: Bathing Place should be made deeper. 200 a day used it when very warm; 100 when cooler; 50 a day now (September).
1875 Ladies to have special time for using Bathing Place.
1881 BATHING PLACE: (LETTER): Some years ago a spot about 300 yards up the river was the only recognised place for bathing, but it was hampered by a halfpenny fine to reach it, for ferrying across the river. There was difficulty about getting a right of way to the Bathing place. The Corporation decided upon making a new bathing place. They purchased propertyalongside the river, but unfortunately a bungle was made of the scheme, and the outcome was an old granary fitted up in rough and ready style, and a limited quantity of enclosed water. This was all very well for youngsters learning to swim, but the grand mistake was in ignoring the large number of persons who can swim, and to whom it is no pleasure to be contained to a small breadth of filthy water. The old bathing place is still used by many who desire to enjoy a wholesome bathe. A better spot could not be found for miles around. Until within the last two or three years the ground shelved gradually down to the middle of the river, which is deep, free from weeds, and suitable in every respect for the swimmer. Now holes have been dredged in the shallow side, and it is positively dangerous. Only the other morning a lad, trying to swim, got into one of these holes and was nearly drowned.
1894 108 yards of the river frontage was cordoned off and enclosed with and post and plank fence. The planking was fixed to stout posts, driven firmly into the bed of the river, a gap below the fence allowed the flow to change the depth of water. Cubicles were built for changing rooms: one set for ladies and one for the gentlemen separated by a large communal changing room for youth and boys. For girls there were six or eight wooden huts.
1895 NEW BATHING PLACE used by 30,000 bathers this Summer. Never before has there been such a run on the place as a result of the long and hot summer.
1922 The Town Council agree to allot separate hours to schools for children’s swimming lessons. The Council also agreed to the installation of 3 spring boards with the centre one to be made rigid (no longer in existence). 1930s The entry fee was 2d for Adults and 1d for children.
1959 Construction of a new Bathing Place adjacent to the old one began and was completed in the same year. The result is what remains today; Beccles Outdoor Swimming Pool.
Diving Boards at Beccles Bathing Place
1975 Saw the installation of Heating for the Pool.
The Swimming Pool at Beccles
1976 “Beccles Swimming Pool is one of the town’s most popular summer sporting attractions providing not only a pleasant riverside leisure spot for local people and holiday visitors alike but also valuable service as a place where people can learn to swim..” For more information click here…
Questions to consider…
When the Romans occupied Britain they built bathing places countrywide. Why did these close, and why was bathing and swimming then discouraged for centuries? (see Hung Out to Dry p 11, 14-16, 41-43)
In 1862 why was it OK to bathe in the river before 9.00 am, but why did you face prosecuted for bathing after 9.00? (see Hung Out to Dry p 7, 96)
Why fence off the river for bathers? (see Hung Out to Dry p 23-24, 119)
Why build a Lido when river bathing was so popular? (see Hung Out to Dry p 129)
Why since then have Lidos closed one after another, and why do those that remain struggle to keep their heads above water? (see Hung Out to Dry p 33-34)