Menu

Preston’s lost Saul Street Baths, why public baths and a pictorial history

Posted on - 28th December, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Nostalgia, Preston City Centre, Preston News
Saul Street baths in the 1970s Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Saul Street baths in the 1970s Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The first public baths in Preston opened in 1851 and were replaced in 1936. The former and later baths were on Saul Street. From 1977 the building had a second life as a ballroom and concert venue. It was then known as the Queen’s Hall. The 1936 built baths were demolished in 1991, to be replaced by the Crown Court buildings.

Advertisement

Why public baths, the great unwashed?

Public baths have been around since Roman times. However, as cities grew, in mid Victorian times, it became necessary to provide public bathing facilities. Most homes did not have bathrooms until after World War II, and Preston’s first public baths opened in 1851. There was also a public laundry in part of the old 1851 building. This closed in 1870, as more laundries opened in the town.

Advertisements
Preston Weekender advert

The first Preston baths

The first baths in Preston, 1851 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The first baths in Preston, 1851 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The original baths were much smaller than the 1936 building. Below we see some of the changing rooms along with some rickety looking stairs. Victorian prudery did not allow mixed bathing, in fact males and females had to attend on different days.

Ladies night in 1920 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Ladies night in 1920 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Primary school children were often given swimming lessons during school hours, well into the 1970s. These were usually given in old Victorian public baths. Leisure centres began to replace the old pools in the 1980s. As a result, Victorian baths are a rare sight today.

The 1851 Saul Street Baths - school children are taught to swim Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The 1851 Saul Street Baths – school children are taught to swim Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The 1936 baths building

The 1936 built Saul Street Baths, taken in 1967 when a new roundabout was being built Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The 1936 built Saul Street Baths, taken in 1967 when a new roundabout was being built Pic: Preston Digital Archive

This is the back of the 1936 building. Judging by the chimney there must have been a large boiler to heat the water, as well as the building itself. 

Advertisements
The 1936 baths when new Pic Preston Digital Archive
The 1936 baths when new Pic Preston Digital Archive

Interestingly, the radiators are inset into the walls to prevent any obstruction. The building had an ornate entrance, but was rather ugly. However, an attractive feature was the arched roof over the baths and the fenced off viewing area – similar to a 1930s ocean liner.

Life as a ballroom

After the ballroom conversion Pic: Preston Digital Archive
After the ballroom conversion Pic: Preston Digital Archive

During the winter the baths were converted into a ballroom and concert venue. A stage was placed at one end and a substantial floor had to be laid over the pool area. Nowadays most swimming pools are in leisure centres and used for recreation. 

The Saul Street ballroom floor under construction Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The floor under construction Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Today’s swimming pools in Preston

Today the nearest public swimming pools are at Fulwood Leisure Centre and West View Leisure Centre.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

Share
Advertisements
caritas fostering advert
Preston in pictures Preston Street photographyMother & LambCosta Coffee in the Mall, PrestonBritish Home Stores (BHS) in Preston20240302-_WAM4563untitledMother & LambFishergateThe Spud Brothers Preston View more Advertisement Subscribe to the newsletter

Sign up below to receive Blog Preston's email newsletter. It wings its way into inboxes every Sunday and Wednesday rounding up our top stories and more.

Advertisement News by location

Find news by location, select an area of your choice to be kept up to date with the latest goings on.

The Preston Guide

Discover local businesses and services near you.

    Advertisements
Advertisement Categories

Find news by category, select an category of your choice to be kept up to date with the latest goings on.

Blog Preston email updates

Receive our digest of the biggest and best stories every Sunday to your email inbox

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time from our emails