On Saturday afternoon, 22nd July 1876, the Baths were officially opened for the public use by Caleb Wright, Esq, J.P.
Early in the afternoon the town began to have a lively appearance, and shortly after three o’clock the atmosphere was filled with the music of the bands which headed the various Sunday School scholars to the square.
Every inch of the ground was occupied, but good order prevailed, and the marshalling of the procession by Mr. A. Cranshaw and his staff was a comparatively easy task to perform.
The order of procession was as follows:-
- Good Templars Brass Band;
- Members of the Local Board and Friends;
- Tyldesley Chapel Scholars;
- Ellenbrook Band;
- Wesleyan Scholars;
- Congregational Scholars;
- Catholic Band;
- Catholic Scholars;
- Good Templars Rifle Band;
- Chowbent United Order of Oddfellows and Ancient Foresters;
- Leigh Fire Brigade and Tyldesley Fire Brigade.
The route took them along Elliott Street to Sale Lane, returning down Elliott Street past the Gas Works, down Blenheim Street, James Street, Charles Street, Factory Street and Castle Street to the Chanters Bridge, returning by Castle Street up Shuttle Street into Union Street and to the Baths.
It is stated that nearly 3,000 people took part in the procession which was almost two miles long, and was witnessed by thousands of spectators.
After the procession entered the baths enclosure Mr. Caleb Wright delivered an address and declared the baths open.
In reality they had been open to the public for three weeks, and had been visited by 5,020 bathers. The charge was 2d. each, and the receipts about £42.00 The outdoor proceedings concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.
The scholars then reformed and walked to a field adjacent to the residence of Caleb Wright Esq., at Lower Oak, Shakerley, where a variety of amusements and field sports were enjoyed. A swimming gala was held at the baths, Caleb Wright Esq., presided.
The handicap race, first prize gold medal, open to all England was won by H.G. Dunlop of Manchester, the Lancashire Champion. Peter Atherton, Captain of the Bolton Swimming Club, with a 12 seconds start, won the second prize, a gold centre medal, and Walter Hartley, of Rochdale, with 17 seconds start, won the silver medal for third. There were 10 entries.
Ernest Dolbridge of the Bolton Swimming Club won the 100 yards handicap race open to residents within seven miles of the baths with the prize being a gold centre medal; R.G. Elliott of Howe Bridge, was second and took the silver medal.
The scratch race, first prize, silver medal, open to residents of Tyldesley was won by James Walshaw; second prize – Victoria Cross was won by Joseph Dixon. Messrs. Reynolds and Boardman of Bolton Swimming Club gave a display of ornamental swimming and double floating, and the gala concluded with a game of water polo.
Prizes were presented by W. Ramsden Esq., and Mr R.M. Whitehead, late of the Bolton Swimming Club, who had been appointed keeper of the baths, ably performed the duties of handicapper, judge and starter.
Following the gala a tea party, concert and ball was held in a large room at Messrs. C. Wright and company’s mill. About 800 people sat down to tea, after which there were several speeches and a concert by Mr. Tunnicliffe’s glee party. Following the concert the room was emptied for dancing.