Do you remember Luton’s old Waller Street Baths?
An Act of Parliament of 1848 made it compulsory for many towns with a high death rate to have a local Board of Health.
One was formed in Luton and its achievements included the provision of public baths in Waller Street in 1872.
The washing baths were very much needed for at this time very few houses had bathrooms. It was in keeping with the morals of the Victorian age that there were two swimming baths, one for men and the other for women.
But the baths, almost as soon as they were built, proved inadequate for a town which had no other facilities for swimming.
A town councillor, Charles Dillingham, a self-made, very succesful hat manufacturer and later mayor, made it his mission to persuade the council to provide better baths on the same Waller Street site.
They were opened in 1913 with one much larger swimming bath, but periods still had to be set aside when women could use it alone.
The large pool was boarded over in the winter months to provide the Winter Assembly Hall, which was used for concerts, dances and public meetings.
An open air swimming pool was opened at Wardown in 1935 and adjoining this a larger swimming bath was provided, in Bath Road, in 1965, which finally made the Waller Street site redundant.
Waller Street eventually disappeared to make way for the huge Arndale shopping centre.
The decision to pull the plug on the Bath Road pool was made in 2008. It was replaced by the £26million Inspire: Luton Sports Village, which opened a year ago.