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In the swim - Memories of Ipswich’s Broomhill and Fore Street pools in Days Gone By

PUBLISHED: 18:00 21 July 2020

Checking the water temperature for the Christmas morning swim at Broomhill Pool Ipswich in December 1966. Picture: ARCHANT

Checking the water temperature for the Christmas morning swim at Broomhill Pool Ipswich in December 1966. Picture: ARCHANT

Where did you learn to swim? For many, the answer is either Broomhill or Fore Street Pool in Ipswich.

Young swimmers at the Active sports swim camp at Fore Street pool, Ipswich in 2005.
Picture: OWEN HINESYoung swimmers at the Active sports swim camp at Fore Street pool, Ipswich in 2005. Picture: OWEN HINES

Broomhill closed in 2002, but there are plans for the 1938 Art Deco lido to be rebuilt and operated as an outdoor pool and fitness centre.

Members of the Lifesaving Club at Fore Street Baths, Ipswich in April 1966 Picture: ARCHANTMembers of the Lifesaving Club at Fore Street Baths, Ipswich in April 1966 Picture: ARCHANT

Meanwhile, another historic Ipswich pool, Fore Street, which has been part of the town for more than 120 years, is still going strong - although, like all pools in the town, it is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Christmas morning swimmers at Broomhill Pool, Ipswich in December 1965. Picture: ARCHANTChristmas morning swimmers at Broomhill Pool, Ipswich in December 1965. Picture: ARCHANT

Fore Street opened in 1894, and many generations of children have taken the first plunge into the water there.

Certificates presented at Fore Street Baths, Ipswich, in November 1976 Picture: ARCHANTCertificates presented at Fore Street Baths, Ipswich, in November 1976 Picture: ARCHANT

Our latest nostalgia gallery features past photos from both popular pools, including life-saving lessons at Fore Street and some intrepid Christmas Day swimmers at Broomhill.

Children from St Albans High School, Ipswich, with members of Ipswich Sub Aqua Club at Fore Street Baths in July 1969



 Picture: ARCHANTChildren from St Albans High School, Ipswich, with members of Ipswich Sub Aqua Club at Fore Street Baths in July 1969 Picture: ARCHANT

Roy Gladwell, of Westerfield, wrote in after a previous article about Broomhill pool. He said: “My old friend Ron Chinery and myself spent many happy hours there. We frequented Broomhill swimming pool in the early days of it being opened.

Youngsters enjoying the TXU Energi  swimming summer camp at Fore Street Pool in 2002 Picture: JOHN KERR/ARCHANTYoungsters enjoying the TXU Energi swimming summer camp at Fore Street Pool in 2002 Picture: JOHN KERR/ARCHANT

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“My parents moved to The new Crofts housing estate and as I was 12 at the time, I enjoyed many happy weeks swimming in Broomhill.

“It was just a short walk to Sherrington Road, where the new pool was situated and I with several other school friends and neighbours would walk down Ashcroft Road and through the railway arch to the baths, complete with towels and costumes under our arms.

“Several friends of mine, including Ron Chinery and Percy Webber, also moved to the Crofts area just before the war and we enjoyed many hours in the summer months, during the school holidays, swimming and diving off the boards.

“We remember that the pool originally had heating to 71F, but this was not continued after two years, Also, to add to the mood, there was soft lighting below the surface of the water and music over the Tannoy system. We would sunbathe on the pink and white terraces and enjoy drinks and snacks from the pool kiosk.

“I remember there were swimming galas organised from time to time and being fascinated particularly by some of the good divers, namely Phil Berry, Syd Alexander and Harry and Doug Lambert, all of whom were members of Ipswich Swimming Club. We were in awe of the fancy dives they were able to do. This inspired me to eventually achieve the dizzy heights of the top diving board.

“During the summer season, on very warm days, the bathers would be told to leave at lunchtime and pay again to re-enter in the afternoon. The queues outside the pool stretched down the road, particularly during the school holidays, but nobody seemed to mind.

“Now Ron and I are both in our 90s, we hope that If and when the pool is finally re-opened, the younger generation will enjoy those happy times as much as we did.”

What are your memories of swimming in Ipswich? Send us an email. To order copies of photos, follow this link, or call Diane Townsend on 01603 772449.


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