Paula Higgins was trained in physiotherapy at the Pump Rooms just before its closure in 1990.
I was a student nurse here and I came for work experience. I was very fortunate that while I was training we were still allowed as many experiences as we could, so I came here and I’m thinking it was around about 1990 – it was ’89, ’90, so really at the end of – we knew that it was closing down at that point so it was quite a sad thing. It was something I wanted to see, something I wanted to do before it did close down and experience it, obviously because it was all, cuts were being made and it was going to go and it was all very sad.
Actually I only did six weeks, but during those six weeks, yes, it was fantastic. Really enjoyed it. The staff that worked here were very friendly, very open, the physios and all of the other therapists that were here, very good to work with, lots of experience, they had years and years of experience here and willing to pass it on. So it was a very beneficial part of my training to have been able to experience that.
What were your first impressions of the place when you came for your training?
Very antique. Fantastic, sort of walking back in time, really was. Everything seemed very rusty but then obviously with it being water and in those days not having paints and things that were impermeable to the spa waters and the waters that were going around, it did seem very, very old-fashioned, but a very happy place as well. Everybody that came was very relaxed, it all seemed to be sort of nice and smooth running and like I say, very friendly atmosphere and a lovely place to work.
Was there any part of the job that you didn’t like so much?
The smell. [laughs]
Tell me about that.
Well, it’s quite a rusty sort of earthy smell and salty and I think occasionally you could smell the swimming pool changing rooms and things like that coming through. It was all a bit wet. [laughs] Yes, you come away thinking, mm, bath. Go home, have another bath. So yes, it was quite a sort of sweaty sort of smelly… but it was a very old, equipment and very old building. It was quite… yeah, quite a wet smell.