Warrender Baths

Edinburgh, Scotland | C.1887

Photo Credit: Soo Burnell

In 1886 in Edinburgh, Scotland, a group of swimming enthusiasts decided to start a swimming club. Queen Victoria was still on the throne, and not only did Great Britain rule the waves, but its people were famous for swimming in them. Only a decade prior, the legendary Captain Matthew Webb of Shropshire had smeared himself in porpoise oil and breaststroked across the English Channel, becoming the first person to do so and sparking a mania for swimming up and down the country. Ten years later, the swimmers of Edinburgh approached their local baronet, Sir George Warrender, with a grand idea: a private swim palace.

A local fifteen-year-old (the youngest member of the British team) named Ellen King trained at Warrender and competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Despite her success, the men of the club refused to allow King and her fellow female team members a celebratory gala. The following year, a group of women (including King) left in protest, forming their own Zenith Ladies Swim Club. It was Warrender Baths Club’s loss: King later won two silver medals at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.

Fast-forward to 2005: just three years after King was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, the pool where she began her illustrious career underwent a dazzling renovation. Warrender Baths has now been renamed Warrender Swim Centre, its pool lanes open to all genders equally.

Included in AWA, The Postcards 👇

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