Given the heat, we thought it was a good idea to take a look at where London’s oldest public swimming pool can be found. There’s a couple of contenders but it’s the Dulwich Public Baths (now known as the Dulwich Leisure Centre) which we think take the title as the oldest public baths still in use.
Located in Dulwich in the city’s south, the baths opened on 25th June, 1892, and was the first of seven designed by Spalding & Cross. There were two pools for most of the bath’s history but one was covered in the early 1980s and now serves as the main gym area.
The baths were closed and used for as a hospital and refugee housing in World War I and the water in the pools were used to put out fires caused by air raid damage in World War II. The baths have also hosted dances and various sports events over the years.
The pools have been refurbished a couple of times, most recently having undergone a five year redevelopment ahead of its reopening in June, 2011.
The Grade II-listed baths located in Crystal Palace Road were opened just a couple of months before the Camberwell Public Baths, which were also designed by Spalding & Cross, opened on 1st October of the same year (again, one of the two original pools there has now been boarded over).
PICTURE: Top – Dr Neil Clifton (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0); Below – Fæ (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)