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Mine workings killed off new baths in Ashton

The old Ashton Baths
The old Ashton Baths
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Our columnist, Geoffrey Shryhane, looks back in time at a swimming pool's untimely demise in his weekly column, My World...

The good folks of Ashton were more than proud when their new baths opened with due pomp and ceremony.

It was a day which would go down in the history books.

Come the day, come the hour and the Chairman of Ashton Council performed the opening ceremony and within hours, kids and adults were splish-splashing about.

Few people, if anyone, could have predicated the future. It’s easy to laugh now, all these years later but the truth is, what happened wasn’t in the least funny.

On another ordinary day, it was noticed the level of the water had gone down.

And as officers and attendants scratched their heads, the water continued to drain away.

An investigation revealed that shallow mine workings under the pool had opened up and allowed the water to drain away.

The council came up with a repair plan but in those days, it was too difficult to achieve and the empty pool was to stay empty for all time.

But all was not lost. It certainly wasn’t. And Ashton Council put in a floor and over the years the building was used for a host of activities... dancing, sports, flower shows, social events and parades.

An old report reveals how a few decades ago, some local lads managed to get into the area under the baths, knowing, no doubt, that the space had been used for storage.

Excitement ruled as the lads found a treasure trove of army equipment, including gas masks and other never-to-be used equipment that might have once been used by the Home Guard.

But there was more excitement when an array of silver cups were discovered and these were rightly taken to Ashton Town Hall by one of the lad’s dads.

For more of Geoffrey's memories and musings be sure to buy the Wigan Observer or the Leigh Observer, out every Tuesday.