Happy days at the lido

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS -

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

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