HISTORY OF OTLEY BATHS

In many ways the story of the baths is inextricably linked to the evolution of Britain during the 20th century.

First Half of the 20th Century

Post World War I there was a shortage of housing in Britain and much of it was of poor quality and overcrowded. Otley Council instituted one of the first subsidised housing schemes in the country in 1920 - utilising land north of the river in Newall.

Wharfemeadows park provided basic outdoor space and the River Wharfe a place to swim and have fun - if you so wished - at a time when properties were just beginning to be converted to a sewer drainage system!

The baths - as it was known at the time - opened in Otley in 1924 and was widely used by the local community. It provided a leisure facility for the growing town and was substantially cleaner than the river!

Screen Shot 2016-10-10 at 15.34.48.png

"You can't really know where you're going until you know where you have been" - Maya Angelou

Given its rich history it shall come as no surprise that the baths left a lasting impression on people - both good and bad!

You can read more about the lovely tales and memories we have collated at 'Lido Memories' - click here.

Photo courtesy of John Morgan 2.jpg

Tell - and show - us more!

If you are able to expand our history of Otley baths or have photos you would like to share please contact us using the form or contact details at the bottom of the page.

Second Half of the 20th Century

As Britain recovered from World War II - and subsequent rationing - the 1950s heralded the start of a  'mobility revolution' as mass motorisation transformed personal mobility. As a result more people could travel in their leisure time and the baths attracted many visitors to the town.

 

In many ways, Otley baths heyday was in the 1960s. By that time the baths - or outdoor pool as it was increasingly being called - had transformed from a baths for residents of Otley to an outdoor pool for both the town and the wider community.

Otley outdoor (swimming) pool closed in 1993. This was perhaps inevitable. Indoor pools had become the preferred option of the masses and many Local Authority lidos were closed. The explosion in the provision and availability of other leisure activities; the pool and the buildings being dated and requiring modernisation; and the increasing demands of health and safety weighed heavily on the Otley outdoor pool. However, lidos are now seeing a resurgence and many closed in the 1990s are now re-opening.

 

You can read more about the derelict site here or about why the time is right to return Otley baths to its heyday - albeit in a modern guise - and how this can be achieved here.