One of the first swimming baths in York was at Yearsley Bath, which was effectively just a covered part of the River Foss. Steps reached from the bank into the enclosed swimming area, which was wired off at both ends. In 1883, Mr W Pearson advertised in the local press that he was offering swimming lessons at Yearsley Swimming Baths, “with use of towels and drawers” for 7s 6d for a year.
There were swimming facilities at St. George’s Field, which were the Corporation Baths. These were often used in the winter, as the Yearsley Baths were not suitable in the cold weather.
In the York Herald in 1899, it was reported that the matter of swimming facilities in York were again raised. It was noted that the City Coroner and juries had recommended that inquiries should be made as to whether a floating bath on the Ouse in the vicinity of Clifton Scope or the Waterworks could be introduced. However, little progress was made, despite the attempts of the late Sir Joseph Terry, who attempted negotiations on behalf of the committee set up to look at the matter.
At the same time, the City Engineer had looked into the cost of building a swimming bath for the city, the cost of which was estimated to be over five thousand pounds. The matter was suggested, but it was felt that burden on the ratepayers was too onerous, and the idea was dropped. Praise was given to York Swimming Club who had helped teach many of the city’s residents to swim, but it was felt that the public baths at St. George’s Field were insufficient.
In 1908, Yearsley Swimming Pool was built and opened in 1909, replacing the previous swimming facilities at Yearsley Baths. This facility is still open, and was heavily refurbished in 2007.