Once you jumped in that was it, you turned instant blue, fighting to breathe because the water was that cold.
When you hear the young ones moaning about the water being cold at the baths it brings back great memories of the old Hawkey’s Lane baths. This was an open air baths and his idea of heating the water up was to tip in a kettle of hot water. The saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ comes to mind for we thought “that’s warmed it up a bit”. Of course, once you jumped in that was it, you turned instant blue, fighting to breathe because the water was that cold. But we loved it just the same.
Once you got used to it we had some great times (even though we could not swim!). The one thing I do remember was the changing rooms, they were quite simply a tarpaulin strung across the girders. On one side you had the boys and men, and on the other side girls and ladies. Now, as the saying goes, curiosity when you’re young is a wonderful thing. Of course we sneaked over to the girls side to peep under the curtain. Then wallop – we got a good clout around the ear from one of the women for being nosey parkers. Now when finished there was no such thing as a nice hot shower and a cup of tea or whatever – no way – you just got out, dried off and away.
Another good memory of Hawkey’s was from one of my old neighbours from 1995. She reckons me and the lads fished her out of the baths in the 1950s when she was a kid and nearly drowning. I can’t remember it but that was one of our good deeds I suppose.
Today of course Hawkey’s Baths are long gone, replaced by a row of houses. But I bet people of a certain age still have a good laugh to themselves when they think of the good old times they had.