Visit Chiswick Library to look at old pictures and other resources about Brentford's past
It’s been interesting reading people’s stories on the Forum of their time using the swimming baths in Clifden Road.
In Chiswick Library in the Local Studies Department is the programme from when the dedication stone was laid by James Bigwood the local MP on Thursday October 3rd 1895.
There was a six course meal for the dignitaries to follow this event which ended with the singing of God Save the Queen with a solo by Fred Turner who was the Brentford librarian.
The Baths had been designed by the local architect and surveyor Nowell Parr and opened on Thursday April 30th 1896. The letter that he signed inviting Fred Turner to the ‘light refreshments’ in the Council Chamber in Clifden House (at that time standing between the Baths and the Library) after the opening events is also at Chiswick Library.
Before the refreshments though there was a GRAND SWIMMING GALA .
The Police Band played outside before a silver key was presented to Thomas Layton who opened the entrances and made a speech. Admission was then 6d with reserved seats 1/- and 2/- for a numbered seat.
The entertainment was provided by ‘Miss Agnes Beckwith, Champion Lady Swimmer & her wonderful troupe (seven in number), four Ladies & three Gentlemen, in their Refined Swimming and Diving Entertainment as given before their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales and all of the Crowned Heads of Europe’
It was accompanied by Miss Hall on the piano and included an illustration of saving life from Drowning – Miss Beckwith’s method, Walking on the Water, Undressing on the Water, swimming with hands and feet tied and a Quadrille on the Water that had been arranged by Miss Beckwith.
From the file it would seem that the Baths were closed for repairs during the early 1970s and the cover of the programme for the reopening was copied from the one in 1896. The saga of the closure in the early 1990s is also recorded through newspaper cuttings and a written report by Gavin Dutton in 1995 (photo credit Peter King).
This is only a minute sample of the history of Brentford that is held in the Local Studies Department at Chiswick Library in Duke Road.
There are old newspapers, maps, pictures filed under the name of the road, Rate books, Census records, Street directories, old Council records and information about businesses and events where these have been kept and deposited in the archives.
They are usually open on Mondays and Fridays from 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm but before visiting it’s advisable to check (020 8994 1008) as there is not always staff on duty.
July 29, 2010