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Matlock Bath : New Bath Hotel - the Outdoor Swimming Pool
Matlock Bath : Twentieth Century Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
Swimming pool of the new Bath Hotel - rescanned 27 Apr 2017
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18thc and 19thc Tour Guides have historical info about the New Bath

New Bath Hotel (5)

Bath Terrace Hotel

The above postcard shows the pool and the picturesque 1930s turnstile at the swimming pool entrance. Trust Houses, Ltd., who owned the New Bath Hotel in the 1930s, submitted plans to the Council for a swimming pool in the hotel's grounds in 1934; it was hoped that it would add to Matlock Bath's attractions. The plans submitted by Trust Houses Ltd showed it would be 120 feet long and 42 feet wide[1]. A large old lime tree had once stood close to where the pool was to be constructed[2].

When the new pool was opened by the Hon. Mrs. Henn Collins on 21 June[3] it was described as the only open-air swimming pool of its kind in this country[4] and both the hotel guests and members of the public were able to use it[5]. There was even a stretch of sand for sunbathing!

The gala opening featured displays by world swimming champions, a water polo match and a mannequin parade and the announcer, a Mr. S. H. Miller, reportedly kept the audience constantly amused. Amongst those attending the opening were directors and managers of Trust Houses Ltd. as well as the architect Mr. D. G. Mallett and his assistant Mr. J. Hopwood. British film star Miss Alma Taylor, who had swum in the pool prior to the opening ceremony, greeted a quartet of mannequins, three of whom wore Smedley's swimming costumes. Another celebrity who attended was Sammy Crooks, a Derby County and international footballer. A tandem diving display was given by Olympians Mr. and Mrs W. G. T. Burne. Photos of the event showed some spectators wearing mackintoshes and holding umbrellas, so the weather wasn't kind![5]

a second postcard of the New Bath Pool
A similar view to the above, but a floodlight is seen pointing towards the tennis courts from beside
the path on the right of the pool here. A large tree on the left of the paddling pool had died in the interim.
It also provides us with a proper view of the long shed on the right of the pool,
erected not long after the pool opened (ca.1937). It can be seen on
the 1930s Trust House Kinolibrary publicity film linked below (just above the list of images on the page).

A popular pastime over the bank holiday weekend in August 1935 was bathing by floodlight[6]. Fed by thermal water from a natural spring, the Olympic sized pool was always popular during the summer months and it was here many local children learned to swim. The slide and diving boards at the deep end can be seen behind the turnstile building. The boards were one, two, three and four metres above the water and the depth at the diving end was nine feet. It seems odd today that the diving boards were metric whereas the depth of the water was an imperial measurement. The chute and boards were removed some years ago.

The white building which is slightly to the right behind the pool had in earlier times been Walker's or the Bath Terrace Hotel. By 1934 it had become an annexe to the New Bath, although the building was eventually demolished. This was where bathers changed for many years and where, later on, some of the hotel staff were accommodated. The former hotel had been converted to provide cubicles for 60, lockers for 400 and shower baths were also available[4]. There were ground floor changing rooms for males, and female facilities on the first floor.

The long low building behind the pool and to the left is part of the mews buildings of Portland House.

Below are two views of the pool, taken in the 1930s and this time looking towards the back of the hotel's main building. Perhaps the bunting was for a special event. Spectators certainly outnumber swimmers! Teas, ices and refreshments were served on the terrace surrounding the pool. One waiter, in a white jacket, can be seen serving from a trolley.

Spectators sitting round the pool

One of the first advertisements announced[7]:

-with Spa water straight from a warm spring, constantly changing itself.
120 ft. long, 42 ft. wide, 9 ft. deep (at deep end).
Open every day floodlit at night-Music every evening Dinner Dance every Saturday
Weekends 2/-, Other Days 1/-
Children half price. Onlookers 6d.

Photograph of the New Bath Pool

There is more about the New Bath Hotel


Other information:
A publicity film from Trusthouses has been released relatively recently. It dates from the 1930s and shows waiters, guests walking around the waters water's edge and swimmers using the pool and diving boards:
Luxury UK Lifestyle from the Kinolibrary Archive Film Collections

1. "Swimming Pool, New Bath Hotel, Matlock Bath" published by F. Frith & Co., Ltd, Reigate. MTB 24. No date, though another card was posted in 1954. Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
2. "Swimming Pool, New Bath Hotel, Matlock". No publisher. This is a real photograph. Unused.
3. "Bathing Pool, New Bath Hotel, Matlock Bath". No publisher and not posted, No.6463 © Ann Andrews.
Another version of the lower image first shown on Michael Portillo's "Great British Railway Journeys" on BBC2 on 25 January 2010
4. Photograph of the New Bath Pool from an advertisement for the hotel published in "The Matlocks, Derbyshire. Official Guide" Issued by the Come to Derbyshire Association, published 1930s. Guide in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Page researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 15 March 1934. Swimming Pool. Hotel Enterprise at Matlock Bath.

[2] See Matlock Bath from Cat Tor.

[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 21 June 1934. Open-Air Pool. Attractive Opening Events at Matlock Bath.

[4] "ibid.", 8 June 1934.

[5] "ibid.", 22 June 1934. Open-Air Swimming Pool. Venture at Matlock Bath. Delightful Setting on Hillside. Another article published in the DDT on the same date was: Microphone Debut. Laughs at Matlock Bath Ceremony.

[6] "ibid.", 5 August 1935.

[7] "ibid.", 3 July 1934.