MEMORIES have been shared about a Hereford swimming pool that was converted into a theatre in the 1970s.

It was the end of an era in Hereford as the Hereford Baths in Edgar Street, which dated from 1929 and was superseded by a new leisure centre, closed and was replaced with the Nell Gwynne Theatre.

The pool was a familiar place for Herefordians, with thousands of children learning to swim there.

A group of theatre enthusiasts took over the building and eventually opened it as a charitable trust in 1979.

Unfortunately, the Nell Gwynne Theatre faced financial difficulties, and, after a stint known as the New Hereford Theatre, run by the city council, it was demolished.

Now, the Courtyard Theatre stands where the pool and the former arts centre once were. Some even say that developers of the Courtyard originally wanted to name it "the Deep End" because of its history as a pool.

Plans for the Courtyard to be built started in 1993 and received a significant boost when the Lottery Commission provided £3.75 million in funding. The new building opened in 1998.

Members of the We Grew Up in Hereford Facebook group, which is run by the Hereford Times, have been reminiscing about a time when the swimming baths were still open. They have been looking back fondly on their experiences learning to swim, and the people they knew from the swimming pool and club.

The swimming club was run by Dorothy Lewis, with her granddaughter Lauren Murphy, saying: "It's really nice to read so many lovely comments. I've shown my mum, Susan Lewis, all of these lovely comments and she's overwhelmed."

Wendy Lockley wrote: "Dorothy Lewis was a lovely lady. We were family friends for years. Such happy memories."


Alan Bayley, meanwhile, remembered the freezing water and the SAS training sessions at the pool. He said: "The pool used to open early for the SAS to train and my dad used to take me there to train before school. The one big down side was it was before the heating was turned on. The water was cold diving in."

Some members had darker memories of the pool, with Nick Prince recalling a story he heard of a young boy drowning in the deep end and haunting the site of the pool, even now that it is a theatre. 

"My late father said there was a ghost behind the stage who was apparently the boy who drowned," he said.