There have been men's baths at the side of the Thames certainly since the mid 1800's as there is reference to them existing before the G. W. R. (the Great Western Railway) opened in 1849. They were then run by Mr W. F. Taylor who was a man of many interests in Windsor - he had a shop opposite the parish church and was also known to run peep shows of the Royal Apartments.
Copy of advert from the Windsor and Eton Express
24th April 1858
To be open May 1st 1858. Windsor Subscription Baths. Season Tickets 8/- Gentlemen under 17 years of age 6/-. Great improvements have been made. An experienced Waterman with a punt will be in attendance and swimming taught. W. F. Taylor. Library, Windsor.
In 1870 the baths were moved because of their proximity to the railway, this followed a complaint by Queen Victoria who thought it unseemly to see men bathing. A new site was found between Jacobs Island and the river bank. This was excavated by Halleys and finished by subscriptions from the Mayor and others interested in swimming in the town. The annual subscription was 6/- plus an entry fee to new members of 1/-.
These baths were known as Boddys Baths and the Windsor Swimming Club was founded here in 1883.
Relocation and opening of Ladies' Baths
At some stage after 1896 the club ceased to operate but was reformed in 1909 at the new baths, built in 1904 and referred to as the Eastern Baths. This was on the site of the original Baths. Joe Boddys Baths were bought by the Corporation in 1903 and taken into the Alexandra Gardens Improvement.
This reformation was instigated by F.G. Saunders "who gathered around him persons interested in the sport in the town, and secured the services of W. H. Shardlow as Hon. Secretary".
In 1909 the then Mayor, Mr T. Luff, a Vice President of the Club secured an additional bath, originally called the Ladies Bath but becoming known in later years as the Western Baths.
1912 saw the formation of the Windsor Ladies Swimming Club and within a few months, on 20th July, was staging its first Gala. The newspaper report of the time opens thus: "Since the Windsor Ladies Swimming Club was formed, now only a few months, its path has been paved with prosperity. the members have displayed the utmost enthusiasm, with the result the members have increased until at the present time it is a really healthy club doing an excellent work in the cultivation of the art of swimming.
Competing at WSC
Our club has been competitive prior to 30th August 1884.
Extract from an article from the Windsor and Eton Express 30th August 1884:
Under very dispiriting circumstances as regarded weather, the Windsor and Eton Swimming Club held its second annual competition in the Windsor Swimming Baths.
The 50yds Novice Race was won by an R.E.Kennedy in 51 seconds, his prize being a silver pencil case.
The final event Walking the Slippery Pole apparently "caused some amusement" was won by a Mr W.N.Kennedy "who got to the end of the pole within a foot" - he became the proud owner of an oak electro butter dish for his trouble (from the Windsor and Eton Express 30th August 1884).
Extract from an article from the Windsor and Eton Express 17th July 1886:
The first race for the championship of this rising Club came off in the river Thames early on Monday morning when, despite inclement weather a fair number of spectators assembled in the Eton Brocas to witness the event.
Course: G.W.R. Bridge to Swimming Baths a distance of about 400 yards.
Officials: Mr T.G. Dyson(Secretary) and starter Mr J. Lamont, Judge.
Results: (4 Competitors)
- 1st R.W.B. Buckland - "Buckland won by 20 yards."
- 2nd R. Davenport
- 3rd H. Hustead
- 4th W.R. Kennedy
Extract from an article from the Windsor and Eton Express 4th September 1886:
The FOURTH Annual competition of the Windsor and Eton Swimming Club took placed at the Windsor Swimming Baths on Wednesday evening. There was a numerous company of spectators present including a large number of ladies.
Officials: E.C. Kelly, Judge and Starter.
Prizes were distributed by Mayor Mr J. Lundy. He said he was "surprised and pleased to find ladies present."
100 yards H'Cap Final:
- 1st F.W. Buckland, 12 secs
- 2nd A.H. Dyson, 14 secs
- 3rd J.H. Brooks, 18 secs
(R. Davenport scratched in first heat)
50 yards H'Cap Boys, Final:
- 1st E. Cave 13 years
- 2nd W.Chapman 14 years
- 3rd F.D. Orr 15 years
- 1st T.E. Roll
- 2nd A.H. Dyson
Walking Slippery Pole:
- 1st F. Wilkinson
- 2nd H. Hulstead
Extract from an article from the Windsor and Eton Express 1886:
Mr J. White was first in the Amateur Swimming race at Cookham Regatta, Mr Rubie 2nd. During the Regatta Mr J. White dived off Cookham Bridge, which is higher than that of Windsor.