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July 5th 1908 Though the sun was shining when the seventh annual gala of the Watford Swimming Club was opened at the Five Arches Bathing-place on Saturday, frequent showers fell during the afternoon, and the final events were decided in a heavy downpour.  In the open handicap the Lutonians had the first man home in Waller, who was on the 13 seconds mark, but Cutchee, of Watford, with 19 seconds, was a strong runner-up, if the term can be used in connection with aquatics.  A graceful exhibition of diving was given by club members, and the comic events, "cock-fighting" on a raft, upsetting a boat, and rescuing the "drowning," rod v man, afforded general amusement.


"As far back as 1870,Watford residents would use the River Colne at the Five Arches Bathing Place at Waterfields, off of the present day Stevenson Way, as a place to gather and swim. Between 1871 and 1906, changing rooms were constructed along the edge of the pool area, providing greater comfort for the men, women and children who used the site. In fact, with the installation of additional changing rooms in 1906,records show more than 70,000 visitors used the pool that year, including  The Watford Amateur Swimming Club. Measuring approximately 100 feet by 40 feet, the pool had been dredged and a layer of gravel used to cover the river bed, providing an outdoor pool sufficient to house its many users. This pool remained open until 1936, when contamination from sewerage convinced even the hardiest swimmer that outdoor bathing had had its day. Three years earlier, in 1933, Watford Corporation Baths in Hampstead Rod had been built, becoming the first public baths in the country to be heated , using electricity,and the first covered bath in Hertfordshire."

 

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