Happy days at the lido
I was interested by Gavin Jones’s article about the lost Stewponey Lido in Bugle 1364 and can add some of my own memories.
On sunny Sunday afternoons in the 1950s and ’60s we went as a family and with friends to sit out in the sun and swim. Such fine days were few and far between, consequently it seemed as though the whole of the Black Country had descended on the venue to enjoy the sun. The whole experience was crowded, chaotic and very noisy. Also, the water always seemed to be freezing cold, but that was probably due to it being so hot on the surrounding slabbed areas, where everybody lay out to catch the sun.
The three images from 1988 which you showed certainly brought back memories, and I attach one of my own from 21 years earlier in 1967 when the lido was open and well-used. My picture is of a friend doing a comedy dive from the high board, the concrete structure of which is clearly shown in your article. My picture shows the Spanish Hacienda style of the buildings, but unfortunately very little of the pool itself.
The image from your correspondent showing a flight of steps is captioned as leading down to the lido whereas, in fact, these were the steps leading from the gardens at the rear of the hotel up to the entrance building. The distinctive feature is the flagpole, below which is the entrance passageway leading through the turnstile and into the lido, which was obscured from direct view by a wooden screen which you had to pass around. This was probably so that you could not see how crowded it was and change your mind about paying to go in.
The 1988 images also show an interesting picture looking along the pool towards the shallow end, probably from the vantage point provided by the diving board.
I can just about identify, in the top left corner of the pool, the alcove which enclosed the steps leading down into the shallow end. I, along with other youngsters, seemed to spend ages painfully working our way down these steps into the frigid water.
Beyond the shallow end was the semi-circular children’s paddling pool, with a multi-level concrete fountain in the middle, which is clearly shown in the 1988 photograph. In the normal fashion, the water was pumped up the central column into the top bowl, from which it then cascaded down through the lower bowls and into the paddling pool below. It was a popular lark for some of the older boys to climb the fountain and sit in the top bowl. In this way they could constrict the flow of water and direct it, so that the stream shot upwards and outwards in a powerful jet.
The idea was for the water jet to shoot across into the main pool, but this exercise usually failed, resulting in people sunbathing in other areas getting drenched. This was when the victims least wanted or expected it, and usually led to a hasty appearance of the attendants to put a stop to the nuisance, sometimes by expelling the offenders from the lido.
I hope that these random reminiscences are of interest to your readers. Nick Bate St. Ouen, Jersey
Having fun at he Stewponey Lido in the summer of 1967