Multi purpose pool gets ready for spring

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LUTON’S former swimming baths in Waller Street were opened in 1913 by the town’s MP at the time, Cecil Harmsworth.

The large pool was boarded over in the winter months to provide the Winter Assembly Hall, which was regularly used for concerts, dances and public meetings.

The main photo shows the dance floor being taken up in March 1954 in readiness for the building’s summertime use.

The picture was carried in the Saturday Telegraph, a sister paper of the Luton News, and also appeared in The Changing Face Of Luton, a Luton Museum book published in 1993. The museum’s collections include a stone plaque commemorating the opening of the baths, which is currently displayed at Luton Central Library.

Harmsworth was elected MP in 1911 and in the same year he bought a semi-derelict house in London, just off Fleet Street.

The house was once owned by Dr Samuel Johnson (of dictionary fame) and Harmsworth restored the building and opened it to the public. Dr Johnson’s House can still be visited today.

Dr Johnson visited Luton in 1781 and dined at the George Hotel in George Street before he visited Luton Hoo.

Pictured above, left, is popular radio and TV presenter Brian Johnston during his visit to Luton in February 1952 for a square dance being broadcast from the Winter Assembly Hall.

Johnston, who died in 1994, aged 81, is best known as a cricket commentator, but he undertook a variety of assignments outside the BBC studios, hosting radio series like In Town Tonight and Down Your Way.