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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!

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

Lido Memories

7/6d for a season ticket. Came every weekend and most evenings in the late '50s and '60s. Bag of chips on the way home!

(Janet T)
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.

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 when a fault with the pumping system proved terminal. The pool and the buildings were also dated and in need of modernisation.

At this time, indoor pools had become the preferred option of the masses. There had also been an explosion in the provision and availability of other leisure activities both within and outside of the health and fitness sector. Indeed, many local authority lidos were closed. However, lidos are now seeing a resurgence with many closed in the 1990s now re-opening.


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

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