THOSE with longish memories can probably recall the time when Worcester didn’t have a decent swimming pool. Criminal really for a city on a river, where the ability to swim gains extra importance.

Up until the 1970s, the local populace, and in particular local schools charged with teaching their children to swim, could only turn to the privately run outdoor Parks’s Bath in Sansome Walk, which dated back to 1850. This might have been a noble Victorian enterprise, but was well past its sell-by date.

In fact ever since the 1930s there had been pressure for Worcester to have its own full size indoor municipal pool.

However, just as a scheme was being formulated at the start of the 1960s (Worcester never knowingly rushes these things), the city council was hit by financial difficulties that put paid to any thoughts of a luxury item like a new swimming pool.

This came as a bitter blow to those who had long campaigned for this much-needed facility and in default of the council they formed a voluntary organisation, called it Worcester Citizens Swimming Bath Association, and began a £110,000 fundraising appeal for a pool of their own.

Several sites were looked at – riverside land off Croft Road, The Moors, Cripplegate Park, Pitmaston Park and in the grounds of the YMCA in Henwick Road – but all were jettisoned for various reasons.

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Then out of the blue in 1971, the Government gave the city council the go-ahead to build a big new municipal pool in Sansome Walk, which left WCSBA wondering what do with the £30,000 in its kitty.

The answer, as we all know now, is that it went ahead and built its own pool anyway.

Due to the generosity of dairy farmer John Bennett, who donated land at Lower Wick, and grants from West Midlands Sports Council (£10,00), the county council ( £2,600) and the city council (£880).

Lower Wick Swimming Pool – with the novelty that the water was heated by methane gas piped from the city sewage works 800 yards away – opened its doors in the autumn of 1974 and remained self-funding for nearly 40 years. However in more recent times, it has increasingly relied on city council help and this week councillors agreed to a £100,000 loan for a major refurb. This should be completed early in the new year, when it will be everyone back in the pool again.