Milton Road Baths
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By 1865, more workers were set to arrive in Swindon to power the new Carriageworks. Anticipating this larger population, the Medical Fund Society built new washing baths across the road from the cottage hospital. This building still stands in Milton Road, and is now known as the Health Hydro.
Even more people arrived than expected though, so a further three large buildings were built between 1892 and 1906 in Milton Road. This would later be known as Swindon’s ‘Golden Age’. Firstly a building for the Medical Fund Society offices and two swimming pools, one large one for men, and another smaller one for women and children. Then a Medical Centre where people could see the doctor and get medicine, and included a range of specialist clinics. And finally 50 washing baths with a Turkish Bath and a cold plunge pool. Brrr!
During the first world war, the pool was used as a hospital for injured soldiers. During peacetime, in the winter months, the large pool was boarded over and all kinds of activities were held there, including dinner parties, concerts, exhibitions, roller skating and ballroom dancing – when it was known as ‘The Majestic’.
The Medical Fund Society became the biggest and most comprehensive health care system in the country. in 1948 Nye Bevan, the minister who created the National Health Service, visited and studied the complex and it inspired him with confidence to create this new national service.
Later, he reportedly said “There it was, a complete health service. All we had to do was roll it out to cover the whole country.”