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1933: The Birch Hotel Bathing Pool opened in brilliant sunshine

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 06 June 1933





If it had been within the power of the management of the Birch Hotel at Haywards Heath to arrange the weather for the opening of the new £4,000 bathing pool on Saturday afternoon they could not have chosen more perfect day. The sun shone with almost tropical heat from a blue sky. and the scene was reminiscent of continental lido in an English rural setting.

Swimming Pool at The Birch Hotel

A large number of visitors from various parts of the county accepted invitations, and they were accommodated in gaily coloured deck chairs placed on the green surround of the pool or scattered about the lawn under the shade of stately oak trees. All were pleasantly surprised with the luxurious addition to the town's amenities, and Mr. Arnold Reynolds, the Manager, and his associates were the recipients of warm congratulations on their enterprise.

While the guests, who numbered over four hundred, were assembling, the Haywards Heath Town Prize Band, under the conductorship of Mr. W. G. Bosley, played pleasing selections.

Shortly after half-past three Mr. Reynolds mounted the diving stage with

MR. C. H. S. ELLIS. C.A.. J.P.

(Chairman of the East Sussex County Council) and the latter suggested that as it was the King's birthday they should commence with the National Anthem. This having been heartily sung. Mr. Ellis said it was not every day that layman stood in a pulpit to preach a sermon while his congregation were waiting for something else, and if his remarks were longer than some of them thought they should be it was because the bevy of bathing beauties, whom he understood would be round him had been delayed in their arrival. Life had every here and there a milestone, and an opening ceremony was a milestone. It was not the beginning or end of something, but a place where they should pause and see how far they had got. That was the case whether they were opening a hospital, school, public building or a bathing pool. It was place where they could pause and see whether their work was pleasing. He could not imagine a more lovely spot in the county for a bathing pool than that. Its provision meant a good deal of courage, foresight and pluck on the part the Directors of the Birch Hotel. (Applause). Where most of them would have hesitated and played for safety first,


had had the courage to put their money into the scheme. They saw before the pool was started what the visitors saw that day. Mr. Ellis painted a pretty word picture of office workers in town coming down with their friends for a swim and listening to the nightingale, enjoying a meal, and returning to town better men and women for the relaxation, and asked what better treat could one enjoy? He believed that having come once they would come again and again. Many gold mines had been drained because of the influx of water, but unless he was mistaken the influx of water in that pool was going to be a mine of gold for the Directors of the Birch Hotel, and they thoroughly deserved it. (Applause). Amid further applause. Mr. Ellis then cut the white silk ribbon suspended between the supports of the diving stage and declared the pool open.

The company next witnessed


By members of the Surrey Ladies' Swimming Club, the Kingston Ladies' and Gentlemen’s Swimming Clubs and Mr. Percy C. Emms, the Bath Superintendent at Kingston. The various methods of swimming were illustrated. Mr. Emms showed the evolution of swimming, and there were many comic stunts. Merriment was caused by the appearance six ladies attired in Victorian costumes as used at Kingston Baths forty years ago, and the clever imitation of fishes and marine animals by Mr. Emms and Mr. Weston drew forth hearty applause. Other attractive features were a boat race, greyhound racing, and a horse race. The last named was preceded by a “bookie”, whose failure to pay out on “The Birch,” the favourite, resulted in him being thrown into the pool by the disappointed backers.

At the close of the entertainment Mr. Reynolds suitably thanked Mr. Emms and the members of the Clubs, and the pool was then thrown open. Upwards of sixty visitors took the opportunity to indulge in a swim during the afternoon and evening, the proceeding being enlivened by further selections by the Band. Teas, ices and other refreshments were served from on the lawn. As dusk set in the pool presented a picturesque sight with its flood and submarine lighting, and it was eleven o’clock before the last bather left the water. Many who attended the usual Saturday evening dances in the hotel discovered that the deck chairs around the pool provided an ideal sitting-out place the in moonlight.

Altogether the Management had every reason to be pleased with the initial success of their venture.

Thank you to Daniel Gibbons for the photograph


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