Baths and gym made generation fit and strong

Factory Sports Swimming Club in 1959.

Factory Sports Swimming Club in 1959.

A Pompey forward heads the ball towards the Milton goal.  (Barry Cox collection)

From the heat of Egypt to blackberrying at Leigh Park

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I wrote recently about the former baths and gymnasium at Pitt Street and John Taylor tells me that, although they were always called Pitt Street Baths, this was more to do with the recreation ground close by and the other side of Fitzherbert Road.

Pitt Street itself was farther north, as can be seen on the map and just below Mill Lane.

Pitt Street Baths south of Fitzherbert Road with Pitt Street farther north.

Pitt Street Baths south of Fitzherbert Road with Pitt Street farther north.

All of these roads are now under the M275.

Eddie Wallace tells me that back in 1939/40 all police cadets and probationary police officers attended that place for physical training under the Royal Navy.

Eddie says: ‘The commanding officer at that time was Lt-Cdr Swailes. He took us personally and what he couldn’t do on the parallel bars, the horse box and wall bars was not worth knowing.

‘He was quite good on the trapeze bars over the pool and allowed us the use of them under the eye of a PTI.

‘After the war, when the City Police reformed its swimming section, we used to have our water polo matches there as well as our annual swimming gala.

‘I kept up a friendship with Cmdr Swailes after the war when he retired and we often went on coaches to Pompey’s away matches.’

And Edwin Amey sent me the photograph here of Factory Sports Swimming Club whose members were employees of the dockyard.

I asked Eddy who they were and he told me they were members of the MED, a department of the dockyard called the Manager Engineering Department.

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