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Entertainment in Long Eaton before the 20th century was almost all self-made. Swimming in the local rivers and canals was common even up to the end of World War II. Places like Sandy Bottoms on the Erewash Canal, and Trent Shallows were favourite spots. In 1898, the School Board hoped that council discussions would lead to the instigation of a public swimming pool. The Derby Road school and Trent College both had pools. The outdoor pool at Trent College was in place before 1880 and a heated indoor one opened in 1940. A public swimming pool however, wasn’t considered until 1923 when new sewage works were planned. It was suggested that the old works could be used as a site for a swimming pool and the open air baths at Grange Park, Station Road, were completed in 1935. The Ministry Of Health gave permission for the Council to borrow £8,800 and the work was carried out by Messrs. Henfrey & Co Ltd. Various contractors were brought in for sections of the work; among them were F. Perks & Son of Long Eaton for the heating; C. Wicksteed & Co Ltd. of Kettering for diving equipment and Bell Brothers Ltd. of Manchester for the filtration plants.

The baths were situated in the centre of Grange Park, with a crescent of senior citizen's bungalows on either side. The pool was nearly 152 feet long and approximately 50 feet wide, giving almost 35 lengths to the mile. The shallow end was three feet deep and the deep end eight foot six to allow for diving. The surrounds varied from 12 - 40 feet wide paved with stone slabs. To begin with, 42 steel dressing cubicles were provided for adults and separate dressing rooms for children. It was hoped that a further 276 steel cubicles would be added later.
Diving and spring boards were fixed at the deep end. The north end contained the entrance hall, waiting rooms and slipper baths, six each for men and women. All dressing rooms had foot baths and showers. The south end housed a cafe with shelters on each side and a balcony. An ornamental stone cascade fountain added to the artistic effect. The filtration plant was capable of filtering the whole of the baths' water (249,000 gallons) every six hours.

The baths opened at 7:00 a.m. every morning (even Sundays) and closed at 9.00 p.m. during the week and 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. Admission was 5d for adults, 2d for children and 3d for spectators. Season tickets were available for regular bathers. Costume and towel hire was also available for 3d and 2d respectively. Slipper baths were 6d, the water for the slipper baths was heated by gas supplied by the Long Eaton Gas Company, whilst the electricity was provided by the L.E.U.D.C. Electricity Company.

A heated indoor pool was eventually built on Wilsthorpe Road next to West Park. They replaced the old outdoor baths at Grange Park. It was the last act of the Long Eaton Urban District Council. (L.E.U.D.C.)

The amount of water surrounding Long Eaton makes it an ideal situation for fishing, the various canals, rivers and lakes proving popular with anglers from all over Nottingham and Derbyshire. Boating too, has always been popular, the Trent Valley Sailing Club started in 1886, using the waters of a 40 acre ballast hole known as "Trent Lake". The club later moved to the River Trent and the striking wooden clubhouse was built 1907 on the island formed by Cranfleet Lock.

The Old Bell and Blue Bell both had skittle alleys, and several football teams were formed in the late 19th century. Long Eaton Rangers was the best known, they played on a field near the aptly named Recreation Street (The second street in Long Eaton to be so-called. The first is now Conway Street). In 1887, they won the Birmingham Challenge Cup beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0.

In 1884, the Long Eaton Recreation Co. Ltd. was formed. Using land on the opposite side of the road to the football club, their aim was to acquire land for sports such as cricket, football, tennis, cycling and bowls. The 13 acre site was used for many sporting and public events over the years. In 1928 it became a greyhound racing stadium, and the track was later adapted for speedway and stock-car racing, as well as cycling. The Long Eaton Invaders speedway team had great success here over the years, but in spite of public outcry the stadium closed in the 1990s, and has been the subject of many heated discussions ever since.

Towards the end of November every year, a "Chestnut Fair" is held on Waverley Street/Cross Street which are closed to traffic for the event. The fair attracts many visitors.

Sport & Special Events on West Park
West Park, of course, has always been a popular sporting venue. As well as the indoor swimming pool mentioned earlier, football, rugby, cricket, putting, bowls and tennis are all enjoyed here. The building of a leisure centre next to the swimming baths has added further sporting interest to the area in recent years, as has the skateboard ramp which was built in 2001.

The Nottinghamshire Steam & Country Show
Although West Park is primarily a leisure area, many special events are also held there, such as a fireworks display on Bonfire Night and several fairs throughout the year. In June 2001, the "Nottingham Steam & Country Show" was held on West Park. Not only were there large and small steam engines on display, many vintage motorbikes and classic cars such as a 1959 Cadillac, a 1980s Lotus and even a Sinclair C5 drew interested crowds. Demonstrations of various country crafts such as dry stone wall building and wool spinning took place and dozens of other craft stalls added to the excitement of the event. A large marquee held displays of miniature working fairground models, as well as scale models of boats and trains. The Long Eaton Heritage Society also had a display of artefacts and photographs. Outside there was a falconry display and a historical re-enactment society demonstrated how people lived in the middle ages, including samples of the food they would have eaten.

Decorative dog carts drawn by Bernese Mountain dogs were among the many attractions at the event. Gardening enthusiasts could browse the hundreds of varieties of plants on sale to their hearts content. Plenty of refreshments were available and a fair and bouncy castle ensured the younger generation enjoyed themselves too. A procession of the steam engines left West Park at around 6:30pm and travelled along Derby Road to the Market Place, eventually continuing back along Tamworth Road returning to West Park later in the evening.

You can find more information about entertainment in Part 2 of this area.

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