Swimming in York’s rivers: an oral history – call for memories

Yearsley open air baths were York’s first municipal baths, opened in 1860… but you might have more recent memories of swimming in the Ouse or the Foss.

Do you have memories of swimming in the River Foss or Ouse? Do you have stories you would like to share? We would love to hear from you!

‘Swimming in York’s rivers: an oral history’ is part of the My Castle Gateway and a collaboration between York Wild Swim and the Castle Gateway Living Well with Water Network. By exploring memories of swimming in the rivers, we want to explore how we can use the past to promote and celebrate our rivers today – encouraging river safety, accessibility as well as possibilities for swimming.

Two students on the MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Leeds, Sarah Illing and Hanyi Jin will be leading the project.

If you have memories you would like to share, please get in touch either by replying to this post or by emailing: mycastlegateway@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “Swimming in York’s rivers: an oral history – call for memories”

  1. I have recently been trying to locate the exact position of the baths in the Foss and am most interested in your living well with water, please keep me in the loop ta Steve

    • Brilliant, thanks for getting in touch Steve, we have the Living Well With Water network now and I’ll dd your name to the mailing list.

  2. Remember swimming often in the Ouse normally from the sandy bank under Ouse bridge. Used to jump off the bridge into the water. Being young at the time an American tourist would give me a shilling if he could film me jumping from the bridge so I did and got 5p.used to swim across the Ouse at Clifton ings.

    • Thanks for sharing your memories of the river Ouse, very interesting about the American tourist! It’s great to hear positive stories about swimming in the river so thanks again for sharing.

  3. I’m very interested in outdoor swimming around York as love to swim in the open air. If you can share some info that would be great!

  4. My neighbour was telling me how as a child he and his friends went swimming pretty much every day in the Summer. They used to swim out to the boats leaving York, hold onto the ropes and be towed for a few miles with the boatsmen shouting at them to clear off. They’d just let go and swim home. He used to swim up near Linton on Ouse, Skeldergate Bridge, and a place called 18ft, a place near Terry’s chocolate factory, where some of the workers used to go too. It was called 18ft as it was really deep there. He has lots of stories!


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