MARK COOPER has been following the recent articles on the swimming baths in Kendrew and Gladstone streets in Darlington.

He says: “I fondly remember coming out of the Baths Hall on a Saturday morning, going into the Rendezvous cafe for a bowl of soup, then over to Thornleys toy shop.

The baths were boarded over and turned into a concert venue, where one of the big nights was February 9, 1968, when Freddie and the Dreamers played. Last week, we published a poster from the night, which included the names of the support bands.

“I feel sure that Union Jackson, who were at the bottom of the bill, were a Darlington group,” says Mark.

“I remember as a kid, they had a Ford 400e Thames van painted up in Union Jack colours and one of them lived in Brinkburn Drive.”

He’s right. Union Jackson and the Patriotic Band were formed in south Durham at the height of Beat-mania in the 1960s. They played their first performance was at Eldon Lane Working Men’s Club in October 1967. They turned pro after the gig with the Dreamers, cut a single called Everybody Needs Love and toured the continent.

At the start of the 1970s, they renamed themselves Crack of Dawn, and in 1975 they appeared on television’s New Faces, by which time they’d evolved into a comedy showband.

They came second last, and that seems to have been the end of them.

THE big question posed last week was whether the baths were drained before they were boarded over for the night’s entertainment.

“I can categorically say that they were,” says Howard Wilson. “I attended Central Secondary School opposite the baths and was fascinated to spy on the process of emptying on my way home. What got my attention was how different in proportion a swimming pool looks when emptied.

“After draining, wooden trestle, diagonally braced structures were erected in the empty pool and the floor was laid on top of them.”

Bill Smith was part of the pool’s maintenance team. He says: “The wood frames were brought up from under the sides of the pool, and they interlocked across the pool. Flat boards were then fitted on top making the level dance floor.

“The sides of the changing rooms were then folded back making it look as if the hall was panelled.”

Watching this peculiar transformation had a profound effect on Howard because for years after he had a recurring dream about how he was standing poolside, stretching upwards to perform a swallow dive. He springs, he swoops through the air and, a millisecond before splashdown, he realises the water has changed into a canvas sheet upon which he slides…