Letchworth Lido

'State of the art' Lido opened in 1935

By Sian Butcher

The opening of the Letchworth Lido 1935
Peter Moyse
The opening of Letchworth Lido 1935
Peter Moyse
Letchworth Swimming Pool 1953
Valentine Series

The first outdoor pool in Letchworth opened in 1908. However, due to the water which grew murkier as the summer went on (it was filled with water from the Pix Brooks), it was replaced by a new pool on the North Common in 1935.

Below are two photographs taken the day the new pool was opened and another from 1953.

This page was added on 17/06/2010.

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  • I think/seem to remember that the lads who used to do the hand stands on “top board” were Ken and Frank Warner – nice blokes, lived on Glebe road (where all the best people were!).
    The pool opening each season was quite a competition to see who would be first in the pool. Kids used to camp outside the pool overnight to be the first in the queue.
    I seem to remember that the opening was postponed one year because someone climbed the wall during the night and dumped a box of fish in the pool!
    I think that 1969 was the year that I managed to be “first in”, very proud to have my picture in the “Citizen”.
    Any one know if there is an archive/collection of copies of the Citizen anywhere? I would love to get hold of a copy of the picture.

    By Guy Law (10/12/2017)
  • Mr Smith’s daughter was/is Barbara Smith. Use to go to school together. Everyone tried to be her friend so we could get in the pool free.

    By Eddie Williams (08/02/2015)
  • Looking for some information I came across tihis article by accident – the gentleman with goatee beard performing frequent swallow dives was my Grandfather, James (Jim) Tillotson. He much enjoyed the facilities from the date it opened as did his daughter, June, my Aunt. It has brought back some of my own childhood memories.

    By Peter Fettes (01/11/2013)
  • It was 4d to get in. Or 10/- for a much-prized season ticket. I, too, recall the man who frequently dived from the top board. In fact, I once took a photograph of him, from his diving position, as he was halfway down. It was a colour slide – I might have it somewhere. I think I remember a clock. It may have been where Neil suggests. I have several photos I took at the pool in the 1960s, but none of the place where the clock might have been…. If I recall correctly, it had hyphens, suitably angled, in place of numbers, and seemed to be built into the wall itself. I remember the temperature board by the turnstiles. There was an affable Irish guy who acted as general help and lifeguard. We called him Paddy. No idea what his name was. The manager was a Mr Scott. He had a pretty daughter about my age, but I was too nervous to ever speak to her. I remember 42 degrees – the chalked writing and the feeling! Brrr! I had diving lessons from a Mr Beaumont I think. He was good. There was a gala held each year, and it was a spectacle, even though I wasn’t good enough to enter. Arthur Howe used to win the diving with a one-and-a-half forward piked dive from the 2nd springboard – every year. On hot days, there were uncountably many bikes outside, overflowing the cycle racks and covering the grassy area immediately outside the entrance. I learned how to open the simple combination locks in common use at that time, and swapped two over. The owners took ages to realise – when they were the only two bike owners left. Irresponsible kids – pah!

    By Adrian King (21/03/2013)
  • Used to live down at the pool in the summer from opening to closing time. I remeber the leathery man with goatee beard and small pot belly who would dive from the top board. There were also two brothers who would perform handstands on the top board before diving off. Used to walk down from Pixmore for swimming lessons in the spring – the pool was freezing and the temperature was on a board by the entrance turnstile. The pool was later heated but still not much warmer! I could never remember the number of my basket in the changing rooms and would ask to take a look or else wait until closing time and mine was the last left. Lunch usually consisted of blackjacks or fruit salads – four for a penny. Can someone clear a mystery up for me. The date of the pool opening – 1935 is above the entrance with a burglar alarm box beneath it. Did there used to be a clock beneath the date or am I imagining things

    By Neil Hamilton (03/01/2013)
  • As I look at this picture of the Letchworth pool and notice the date is 1953… it would be only a few years later (mid 60’s) that my friends and I would have cycled there with our towels and trunks fastened to the backs of our bikes (no expensive designer sports bags for us!) We’d padlock/chain our bikes outside the pool and hope that the worst that could happen to them is someone let our tyres down and nothing more. So this picture captures the pool very much as it would have been when we were there. Usually we’d spend most of the summer holidays there. In the pool and then lying on the very hot floor to dry off on sunny hot days…Or if it was raining just staying in the water believing that the rain was actually causing the water temperature to rise. Of course if there was a lightning storm we were told to get out of the water. In the deep end there was a pipe at the bottom that we’d dare one another to dive under and swim through it…always with the knowledge that there were stories of people getting caught under the pipe and drowning. To the extreme right of the picture, out of shot, would have been the grass area, blocked off from the Norton Common by a concrete slab wall that I recall kids often trying to ‘bunk-in’ by either climbing over or, unbelievably, tunnelling under, usually with the assistance of friends that were already legally in. In the right back-ground is the ladies changing rooms. Then panning left would be admin offices and I think the filters? The entrance/exit gates…and then of course the ‘tuck shop’ where goodies could be bought. I can very clearly remember having my first packet of Walkers cheese and onion crisps (rather than Smiths, which were the most common, ready salted with the little blue packet of salt, followed by cheese and onion or Golden Wonder) and a steaming cup of Bovril. Moving further left was the men’s changing rooms. First you presented your entry ticket to receive a numbered metal hanger with a basket base for your clothes…You then had to choose if it was to be a cubicle for privacy or the ‘cattle-sheds’(?) which was a common undressing/dressing room…Usually used when we went there on school swimming trips. You had to remember your hanger number otherwise you would have trouble recovering your clothes from the 100s? of other hangers. Once changed for the pool you could either shower (before or after the swim) and the foot pedal sprayers were always fun to play with. The shallow end was 2ft 6 ins and went up to a deep end of 6? 8? Foot. Then to the extreme left again out of shot, there was a wonderful water fountain, which I’m sure has well gone….finally there was a smaller slide that went into the 3ft area. Having visited the pool recently the high slide and boards have been removed apparently due to the ‘elf & safety people…I have many fond, but sometimes scary feelings as I trooped up the stairs to the top of the slide…I don’t think I ever had the nerve to go down it head first or backwards though many people did. Then of course there were the boards…I would only ever jump from the top and second boards (I think I may have tried diving off the second just the once, but that was enough)….and dive from the first either spring board, or the flat board. I wonder if anyone will remember a very leathery- tanned 70? year old man with a grey goatee beard? He used to do a beautiful swallow dive from the 2nd spring board, and then swim, as if in slow motion two lengths and repeat the dive time and time again…I seem to recall this happening early on Saturday mornings? Finally I think the was a life guard there and his name was Paul and he was Canadian?? I think that’s all I can bring to mind about the pool…Hope that this will help to jog so other memories of the Letchworth Pool

    By Laurance O'neill (17/11/2011)