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City and Municipal Bathing Institutions

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CITY AND MUNICIPAL BATHING INSTITUTIONS.

It may be interesting to briefly touch upon some main facilities the public authorities in Great Britain afford the swimming world, and it can be stated without fear of egotism that their splendid example is being emulated by the Continental nations, especially Germany, Sweden and Switz erland. In these countries the writer has seen great progress during the last ten years; and • France, although not so well advanced as the former countries, is rapidly coming into the van of progress so far as municipally controlled bath ing institutions are concerned. In qualifying the above statement, it may be worthy to record that Durban, South Africa, although only one-quarter the size of Toronto, had public swimming baths established some fourteen years back, and con sidering the time since they were erected, they compare favorably with many of the more recent baths of to-day. This speaks volumes for the authorities' wisdom and the architect's design at the time. It would be somewhat difficult to emu late the different classes of baths in Great Britain, for they are so widely different, and range from the Bath Club in London, where royalty goes, to the open-air free baths in our county towns.

The baths, wherever possible, are generally sit uated in the more densely populated districts, and are equipped with all the latest labor-saving de vices, being in many cases electrically driven and lighted from the town's supply. The main build ings consist of first and second-class plunge baths, with Turkish baths for both classes. The more recent baths have large washing departments where all classes of people can, for a few cents, wash and dry their household linen and clothes. The charges for the first-class are twelve cents, including two towels, and one cent for swimming drawers. The second-class is four cents or six cents, including one towel and one cent for draw ers. The slipper baths are the same price as the swimming baths. The length may be anything from 100 feet, and the breadth 30 feet; the depth six feet at the deep end and four feet at the shal low end. They are furnished with diving plat forms, springboards, sliding chutes and all neces sary appliances for the use of junior and advanced swimmers. The latest style is so designed that those using the baths have to enter from their dressing boxes, .thus preventing any dirt being brought in from the street, a very proper and sanitary measure, which adds materially to the comfort of those using the baths. Where this has not been done a barrier is placed at the entrance end, and the boots are placed in lockers. In some of the German baths it is compulsory for each person to take a warm or cold shower bath before entering the water. This is a very good rule, for however clean the body may be, it takes off all moisture of superfluous matter ; and this, where the water is only changed once or twice a week, assists in keeping it in a clean condition. This wise practice will no doubt be better appreciated where swimmers are taught consider each other's comfort, and there is plenty of room for education in this direction. The Victoria Baths, recently built by the Manchester Corporation, England, have a filter system, whereby the watec in the baths is being continually filtered. The water is pumped to receivers on the roof, where it enters specially constructed filter vessels, and after running over a series of weirs, in order that the air may get mixed with the water, it runs by gravity into the bath again. In cases where

water is dear, it has been found to pay for itself in a few years, and the loss of water in the above instance is only a few gallons per week, as the water is used over and over again, and is always as clear, and even clearer, in some cases, than the origin al water supplied.

The Manchester Corporation control something like fifteen swimming and washing establishments, and the committee have granted exceptional facili ties to the schools of the town. On certain days the scholars, on presenting their tickets, which can be purchased from their teachers, are allowed to use selected baths ; the minimum charge for each ticket being about two cents, including towels. During the summer months it is estimated that quite fifty pear cent. of the scholars avail them selves of this privilege. The good results from this policy are more far-reaching than can be imagined, for not only are the children educated in the ways of cleanliness, but it assists in build ing up a healthy body of citizens. Not only is swimming enthusiastically indulged in, but every facility is given for the young to take up lessons in life saving, and it is a splendid and inspiring spectacle to see the young competitors going through their drills and rescue demonstrations for the junior certificates issued by the Royal Life Saving Society of Great Britain. In many cases children Of eight and ten years old have passed with all the confidence of their more advanced To what nobler purpose can their swim ming abilities be applied than that of learning to save life? The good results accruing from this early education can be traced from the many splendid examples recorded in the books of the above Society. Many of the baths remain open during the winter months, and are largely attend ed by swimmers and members of polo clubs. The league matches are quite a feature, and the seat ing accommodation is often taxed to the utmost capacity. In this respect it is reasonable to pro phesy the same conditions will prevail in the new baths recently equipped in Toronto, which are the first of their kind in Canada. The swimming tank is sixty feet long and twenty-six feet wide, being five feet deep at one end and seven feet at the other. The tank is so arranged that swimmers have to pass from the dressing rooms to a large shower room adjoining before going into the tank, which is a great improvement and more sanitary than the old style of dressing box leading direct from the bath. The swimmer can see his locker from the bath, but cannot get through without first going through the shower room. 'The build ing and equipment cost $40,000, and there is no doubt, from the general appreciation shown by the public, much larger baths will be built in the near future, costing twice this amount, it being more economical to have one or two establishments centrally located to meet the growing require ments of a city possessing a population of 275,000. There is no doubt this splendid example shown by the authorities in Toronto will stimulate other cities throughout Canada to build public baths for the good of its people.