the largest lido in
In the early 60’s families would gather on hot days and endeavour not to lose one another or get hypothermia in the water. Water temperature was always posted at the entrance usually about 62f (this sounds reasonably warm but when you consider the freezing point of water is 32f and body temperature is 98.6f : it's bloody cold when you get in it.)
We always vowed to get there early and bag a prime position (we never did) we assembled everything needed for this major expedition, sandwiches, orange juice, etc. etc. When we arrived, the whole world and his wife were in the queue in front of us. Slowly, we got closer and closer to the entrance and entered the world of outdoor bathing. At this point the males and females separated to go to the salubrious changing facilities (unchanged since the early 1900’s). Inside one picked up a wire cage affair (those of you old enough to remember these need no more description – those too young to remember are probably better off not knowing). Once you had put all your clothes into this wonderful arrangement you took it to the attendant who took it away, hung it up and gave you a small round disc attached to a safety pin with your number on. You then walked around the whole day with your number pinned to your swimming costume (I know Health and Safety would not allow this but as I remember there were no fatal accidents with people spearing themselves with safety pins).
We were simple folk in those days, we would lay in a confined area on a hard concrete floor with only a towel and dab ourselves with very dubious oils and potions and fry in the Sun. Every so often you would venture to the pool trying to avoid other people, and soggy sandwiches, sometimes the shallow end was so crowded with people and inflatables you had to be careful when you dived in that you did not bounce back out again.
People would congregate around the refreshment area. This meant it was always crowded and there was always a queue – very useful for dads who would say to their kids who wanted an ice cream “there is a terrible long queue, why don’t you wait awhile until it goes down a bit”. Funnily enough it never did. The amount of people consuming sticky food meant that the place was a great fly and wasp meeting ground.
The incident I am about to relate happened in 1963, the Beatles hadn’t been fully developed then, pirate radio stations were still to arrive and the portable radios around only had the joys of two way family favourites and the Billy Cotton Band Show. All around people were laying reading their Sunday papers.
In a loud 8 year old voice I said “Who is this Christine Keeler woman?” Instantly peoples eye looked up for their paper and the unsaid thought was how are you going to get out of this girl, come on this better be good. Mum took the easy route and said “Oh she is just some woman”. I knew I was being fobbed off but it was only in later years that I realized what it was all about and would have taken far too long to explain to anybody of 8 years old. My mum still remembers this incident vividly – I can’t think why.
I spent much time at this place in later years.