The Victoria Leisure Centre, home of Nottingham’s first swimming pools has had more than just that one use in its lifetime. Almost certainly the most morbid, especially in the face of the world we live in now, is that of a morgue.
Before the deadly Spanish flu struck in 1918, morgues were basically unheard of. Families had no worries keeping bodies of their dead family members in their houses until a funeral, although this does seem shocking now!
However, as the virus swept through the nation (not unlike coronavirus today), people became much more fearful of dead bodies. There was much less scientific knowledge back then, and it was uncertain if the bodies could pass on the disease. Sources suggest that 6000 died in Nottingham over a single month and multiple funeral processions were being made a day. All these factors meant the council were dealing with many more dead bodies than they were used to and were running out of storage.
Enter Harold Lymn, back in Nottingham after a pandemic-induced early discharge from the Royal Flying Corps (to help his father, an undertaker). His father’s business was situated across the road from the Victoria Baths and so Harold quickly came up with the idea of draining the two swimming pools and storing the bodies there. Not only was this a big area, but it was also easy to clean and more hygienic than the current makeshift mortuaries. Luckily times have moved on since then, or the shit down swimming pools across the UK may be opening for a very different reason…