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100 years ago in Salford: Drunken army man lashes out over bath-rage at Regent Road pool

In July 1915 a 22-year-old man celebrating joining the British Army was arrested in a drunken stupor after starting a fight over a bath.

Readers may remember the old public swimming baths on Regent Road which opened in 1892 at a cost of £13,000, boasting two pools, vapour baths and the popular ‘slipper baths’.

In 1915 very few Salford households could afford a proper bath of their own, likely using instead a communal family tin bath in front of the fire.

So these private ‘slipper baths’ became extremely popular: a little cubicle of your very own and half an hour’s peace to scrub away the dirt with a hunk of carbolic soap.

Sadly not all of the clientele were quite so genteel, as this court case from July 1915 shows.

It was a Saturday afternoon when 22-year-old Thomas Hefferon pitched up at the baths hoping for a little private time to himself.

But a long queue snaked out in front of him, and after the incident locals would report that Hefferon smelled strongly of alcohol at the time.

The young man pushed his way to the front of the queue and got into a scuffle with those patiently waiting, punching one in the mouth before headbutting the baths attendant, Mr Charles Harrison, who had the cheek to step in and tell him to stop.

The police were called in an effort to stop the assaults on customers and he was hauled away, still protesting his right to have a bath.

Hefferon, from West Union Street, Salford appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting Charles Harrison.

The court heard that Hefferon was wheeling around the Regent Road baths challenging everybody to fight and refused to leave until he had had his precious washing time.

In his defence Hefferon said that he didn’t remember a thing, and that he had been out with a couple of pals for a pint on Regent Road and that he was “not accustomed to drink”.

He then told the court that he intended joining the army and that the drinks were a pre-celebration.

The Stipendary told him to leave off the booze in the future and then rather strangely bound him over to keep the peace until he joined the army.

With that fighting spirit I’m certain that Thomas Hefferon was just the recruit the British Army was looking for at that time.

It would be interesting to know if he survived the carnage of The Western Front, but given the number of Salford men who lost their lives there, I sadly doubt it.

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.