Rennison's swimming baths were the first in Bristol.
They were laid out in 1765 by Thomas Rennison near the Stoke's Croft Turnpike (Montpelier) - the site is still called Bath Buildings today.
Rennison was a threadmaker from Birmingham who had come to Bristol with an ambition to set up his own factory although these plans were never realised. As well as a large cold bath and a smaller one for women, there were dressing rooms, a coffee house, a bowling green and tea gardens. Concerts were held there twice a week. The coffee house was later converted in to a tavern called the 'Old England' and still exists. Rennison styled himself as 'Governor of the colony of Newfoundland' and held wild parties knowing that he had nothing to fear from the authorities as the site was outside the city boundary.
After his death in 1792 the property was passed on through a succession of family members until it was sold with the baths themselves eventually being acquired by the Bristol Corporation for public use in 1892. The Public Baths and Wash Houses Act of 1846 encouraged local authorities in the UK to provide municipal baths for citizens as part of a drive to improve public health and hygiene. By 1896 they had attracted 33,231 visitors but were closed in 1916 as a cost saving during World War I.
Footnote: The baths are clearly marked on the Know Your Places website, epochs 1855 & 1828 and shown adjacent to the Old E (England) There is now a health centre roughly where the baths used to be. Bath Buildings run down from the Gloucester rd to the area of the Old E.
The famous Gloucestershire and England cricketer WG Grace used to practice in the nets at the Old E. The nets are still in situ ( not the originals obviously). The Doctor as he was known finally made the step up to the national side playing against Australia. Two years later in 1882 WG despite scoring 152 was part of the losing side again against Australia at the Oval. This defeat marked 'The death of English cricket' and the start of the now legendary Ashes test series, this defeat was recorded with a mock obituary in the Sporting Times stating that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.The mythical ashes immediately became associated with the 1882–83 series played in Australia, before which the English captain Ivo Bligh had vowed to "regain those ashes". The English media therefore dubbed the tour the quest to regain the Ashes.
After England had won two of the three Tests on the tour, a small urn was presented to the England Captain Bligh by a group of Melbourne women including Florence Morphy, whom Bligh later married. The contents of the urn are reputed to be the ashes of a wooden bail, and were humorously described as "the ashes of Australian cricket". It is unclear whether that "tiny silver urn" is the same as the small terracotta urn given to the MCC by Bligh's widow after his death in 1927, and held high by the victorious team at the end of each series.