'25 metres was a big ask, but I did it' - recollections of swimming lessons in Sheffield

I’m no Ducan Goodhew or Ian Thorpe but I can swim 25 metres, maybe a little more, if I have to. I love to snorkel when on holiday, but that's as far as my swimming abilities go.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 10:00 am

I learned to swim at Sutherland Road Baths situated on Sutherland Road, Ellesmere.

Sutherland Road Baths was a beautiful building built in 1919, and demolished around 1977.

Mr Scott was my swimming instructor, he was well known in Sheffield as he taught at numerous swimming pools in the city.

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Enjoying themselves at Sheaf Valley Baths are these pensioners that have been receiving instruction from Mrs Rose Gore
13th September 1976
Enjoying themselves at Sheaf Valley Baths are these pensioners that have been receiving instruction from Mrs Rose Gore 13th September 1976

Although I swim like a brick, I’m grateful for the ample opportunity to swim in various venues in Sheffield.

Sutherland Road Baths was the closest to my home, we went from time to time, I was never a fan of swimming or learning to swim.

We also had compulsory lessons via our school Burngreave circa 1973. We would all turn up with our trunks rolled tightly into our towels, as I remember it cost 5p per session.

Our hearts would sink when we realised Mr Scott was coaching that day.

Fun at Attercliffe Baths, April 1982

He had a no-nonsense approach as I remember, as learning to swim is an important life skill to have at any age, and he didn’t see the need for levity where swimming was concerned.

One particular day he marched me to the deep end of the pool, and made me get in and swim the length of the pool.

I was embarrassed and frightened to death, but I did it, I’m not sure I would have ever done it but for Mr Scott’s barking encouragement from the poolside, he proved to me I could do it.

What I recount from that era was that there were plenty of venues to learn to swim or enjoy.

We had outdoor and indoor pools to enjoy. I was lucky enough to be able to visit our two outdoor pools,namely Longley Park outdoor swimming pool and Millhouses lido. Both wonderful places to visit in the summer months.

I have no idea how they managed to get the water so cold, but they managed it every time. Unfortunately we lost both these facilities in the 1980s.

We lost several facilities over the years, the Rawson Spring pub in Hillsborough formally a public swimming pool closed to the public in 1991. Other pools I remember were Park swimming pool on Duke street that closed down in 1995. Although the building still remains as a community centre and library.

Another popular swimming baths was Glossop Road Baths, opened in 1836 closed circa 2000, on West Street. The building was largely converted to residential accommodation, with a bar called "The Swim Inn," in the former main swimming pool area.

Attercliffe also had a swimming pool, built in 1879, providing both swimming and washing facilities for the area at a time when few had bathrooms.

Another old school swimming pool still exists today is Heeley Baths, on Broadfield Road.

Sheaf Valley baths was a wonderful modern facility, which we lost controversially to make way for the Olympic size pool and sports centre, for the World Student Games in 1991.