Baths’ long history

The event hall at St. James Baths.
The event hall at St. James Baths.

Built in 1932, Doncaster’s St. James Baths has had a long and varied history. It has and indeed still is a well used facility especially when it comes to water recreation whether it be of a swimming variety or the historic and architecturally fascinating Turkish Baths.

Only recently it was threatened with demolition but has now thankfully (and hopefully) been spared, not only spared but also awarded listed building status.

But there is no doubt about it, this venue, more associated with breast stroke and crawl by the younger generation has a fascinating history of putting on musical entertainment.

Local folk of a certain age reminisce wistfully about some of the rousing events starring a number of local orchestras who each have been part of a generation’s recreation time as they learned about the big band sound as well as picking up the moves on the dance floor. So that raises another question to the unitiated souls who just haven’t got the knowledge of this St. James street mecca.

When the pool itself was covered up it looked like our photograph when a concert was happening, the chairs were obviously whisked away and a spacious dance floor was created when the light footed brigade took over. It was clever, practical and it suited the needs of all ages.

Not only from Yorkshire either, as well as local bands some of the country’s top groups of the day graced the stage here. The talents of Freddie & The Dreamers and The Searchers, even the mighty Beatles strutted their stuff in 1963, though only one of the five Doncaster shows by the fab four was at the baths, the others were all at The Gaumont.

But that information shows what a hotbed of talent our town had to offer the young folk of the sixties. Let’s hope the venerable venue continues for many years to come.