Winsford's first swimming baths were opened in July 1887 by Lord Cross and donated by benefactors Sir Joseph Verdin and his brother William Henry.

It was located in the Old Marketplace at Cross's Dockyard, close to the town bridge. This would now be close to the site of the marina, although likely positioned in the middle of the new Station Road bypass.

It was a timber-frame structure in celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. In addition, Lord Delamere donated a recreation ground to the community at Over, and Mr Armstrong donated one in Wharton.

Another of the Verdin brothers, Robert (MP), died shortly before the baths opened, and his last activity was to visit the premises before they were formally opened.

The baths were described as having a spacious entrance hall; on one side were the private baths, a plunge pool which was 60 x 20 feet long and brine baths built above the private area. On the opposite side was the superintendent's office, waiting area and dressing rooms.

A swimming gala was held here every year, and the baths proved so popular that more than 40,000 visits had been made in the first three years.

Knutsford Guardian: Winsford Baths in the Market PlaceWinsford Baths in the Market Place (Image: Rose Hurley)

At the third Gala in 1890, the special guest was Tommy Burns, a famous diver from Liverpool, who performed amazing diving feats.

He was renowned for diving off structures such as bridges and invariably had to wear disguises as he was not legally supposed to do it. His downfall came in 1897 when he dived off Rhyl Pier and landed awkwardly.

He swam to shore where, despite considerable efforts to save him, he died. He was just 29. 

Knutsford Guardian: The old baths in 1918 after the fireThe old baths in 1918 after the fire (Image: Rose Hurley)

The baths met an unfortunate end when it caught fire in December 1918, apparently starting in the laundry room. The insurance covered only half the cost of rebuilding.

It would be 1934 before the Verdin Open Air Brine Baths would be opened, as a replacement, by Lieutenant Colonel Richard Norman Harrison Verdin at a cost of £879.

Knutsford Guardian: The Rilshaw Lane bathsThe Rilshaw Lane baths (Image: Rose Hurley)

These were situated on Rilshaw Lane, roughly located where the bridge taking Rilshaw Lane over the Station Road bypass is.

These baths were very popular with the local community and were open from Easter through to October each year.

As you approached the building, the kiosk was central; ladies went to the left for changing whilst gentlemen went to the right, both with footbaths.

The school facilities were at the back, and a café located just under the tower. There was access to the riverside by the Flashes for picnics.

Knutsford Guardian: The Rilshaw Lane baths, looking from the other endThe Rilshaw Lane baths, looking from the other end (Image: Rose Hurley)

Within the bath area itself, there was an adult swimming pool with a tiered diving board next to a junior pool.

There was also a rock fountain close by and a stand for spectators. Schools used to regularly visit during the summer term months to enable children to learn to swim there.

The fountain nowadays would probably not be allowed due to health and safety reasons as many a small child scuffed their arms and legs whilst climbing atop.

Sadly, these baths were demolished in the early 1970s to make way for the Station Road bypass.

Knutsford Guardian: Winsford's old baths as seen in 2009Winsford's old baths as seen in 2009 (Image: Rose Hurley)

Winsford's third swimming baths were built on the Drumber by the then-new shopping centre and opened in the 1970s.

It provided facilities, including a gym and squash courts, and at the far end of the swimming pool, a map of Winsford was laid out in a brick pattern.

A balcony and viewing platform overlooked the main pool, and next to it on the opposite side was the children's/infants' play pool.

In 2009, a Brio lifestyle centre was erected at the back of the existing swimming baths building, enabling it to open before the existing one was demolished.

Knutsford Guardian: The Winsford Lifestyle Centre in 2014The Winsford Lifestyle Centre in 2014 (Image: Rose Hurley)

In its place, a small skate park was built, also a small memorial garden to commemorate some of Winsford's war heroes.

The new Brio centre also replaced the Civic Hall (corner of Dene Drive and High Street) as a function and events venue by providing these facilities plus a large gym, sports hall, exercise studios, café and two swimming pools.