The Baths Hall
The Scunthorpe Municipal Swimming and Slipper Baths was opened in Doncaster Road on 24th March 1932. It was built by Barton-Upon-Humber’s Henry Ashton of red brick.
Arthur Greenwood the Labour MP and Minister for Health was presented with a silver key to perform the task, he had indeed been able to provide some grant aid for the building. Mr Greenwood MP had been officially welcomed by the Chairman of The Scunthorpe and Frodingham Urban District Council, Mr G. R. Walshaw. After the opening ceremony there was an evening gala with numerous swimming events, a polo match between Scunthorpe and Grimsby & Cleethorpes (which resulted in a draw) and there was even some tomfoolery with certain councillors jumping in or sliding down the chute dressed in various attire.
The adult and junior pools were in great demand as it was recorded the number of patrons using the Baths Hall in the first week alone numbered over the two thousand mark The slipper baths were in great demand too by those whose houses did not have bathrooms, entry to the slipper baths was 3d with a towel and for an extra 1d another towel was provided.
Each Autumn the diving boards were dismantled and the changing rooms folded back whilst over 85,000 gallons of water was drained from the main pool, workmen then set about using 40 tons of timber for the installation of a temporary floor ready for the winter dance season.
Over the years The Baths Hall has played host to a plethora of names including; The Who, Manfred Mann, The Pogues,The Animals, Bad Manners, The Moody Blues, Lulu, Slade, Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Ocean Colour Scene, The Nolans and latterly perennial favourites The Rumble Band. For many years from the early 1980s The Baths Hall hosted The Scunthorpe Rock Open and over the years thousands of people have attended events like this as well as music festivals, beer festivals and dance festivals. The late radio 1 DJ John Peel rated The Baths Hall as his favourite venue. Many of the areas company’s have also held Christmas parties and various other functions there in the past.
In 1983 Councillor Bob Bath pulled the plug on The Baths Hall, the new Leisure Centre had opened in Carlton Street and The Baths Hall pools were drained for the last time. This signalled the start of a refurbishment programe to turn the building into an entertainment venue. It would run like this until 2004 when a new local authority administration closed The Baths Hall as part of a cost cutting measure and rationalisation move.
The Baths Hall was given a temporary reprieve in 2005 when a private sector company lead by Ian Charles took out the lease hold on The Baths but within a year had handed the keys back after not receiving assurances from the local authority about the future of the building. It was known the land that The Baths Hall and neighbouring Youth Centre had been built on was the site of the former Scunthorpe Gas Works and that the land beneath was contaminated.
The Baths Hall and the neighbouring Youth Centre were demolished in 2008 with the election pledge by North Lincolnshire Councils Labour Group to rebuild an entertainment venue with something for everyone. Despite many wranglings and political points scoring between the local Tory and Labour groups and opposition from the nearby supermarket Sainsbury’s it was passed that a new Baths Hall would be built incorporating the original 1930s frontage of the old Baths Hall.
Work got under-way to build the new Baths Hall in April 2010 by local company Clugston Construction, the work was complete by the second half of 2011 with the opening date of 11th November which closely coincided with the 75th anniversary of the creation of the borough town of Scunthorpe.
Comedian Bill Bailey was the first to perform there and many great acts have since followed including, comedian Jimmy Carr, dancer Brendan Cole, bands The Darkness and UB40, The Moscow City Ballet and TV psychic Sally Morgan to name but a few.
Looking back over the years of the ‘old’ Baths Hall many events have taken place there from Idea Home exhibitions, the popular Bravarian nights to professional wrestling with the likes of Big Daddy plying his trade there. Ken Dodd packed the Baths out in the early 1990’s and legends such as The Who and The Animals have played the venue in the 60’s.