Broomhill Pool a playground for Ipswich since the 1930s

Broomhill pool from the air

Broomhill pool from the air

As hopes of restoring Ipswich’s lido to its former glory take a step forward today, we look back at the pool’s past.

Broomhill was one of two outdoor pools, or lidos, built in Ipswich during the 1930s.

It opened in 1938, two years after the Piper’s Vale pool opened on the south-east edge of the town.

Originally it was heated – and was a very modern development providing leisure for the masses in Ipswich just a few years after the Great Depression.

At the end of its second season, however, the world was plunged into the Second World War – and that took its toll on the pool.

The heating boilers were removed to be melted down for munitions, and it never again had heated water.

That did not affect its popularity however, and during the long, hot postwar summers it was a very popular venue – especially for the town’s youngsters.

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During the summer of 1976 it was hugely popular and it also attracted crowds during hot weather in the 1980s and 1990s.

However there were problems stacking up – with serious engineering issues during the 1990s.

The pool itself and its associated buildings needed major engineering work. It was increasingly difficult to prepare the site for its public opening every year.

It was only open between May and September – and was very dependent on the weather. A bad summer meant that takings were seriously down and the costs continued to have to be met.

The opening of the Crown Pools gave keen swimmers an alternative place to visit – and one that was open all year round and which was not weather-dependent.

During some of the poorer summers of the 1990s borough council officials calculated it was costing £25 a visit for every swimmer – who were only paying a £1.50 entrance fee.

Every September there seemed to be the threat that it would not open again next year. In the spring of 2003 that threat became real when the council confirmed it would be unable to open for that summer season.

Ironically the summer of 2003 was one of the hottest on record and the pool would undoubtedly have been well used.

Since then there have been several attempts to develop a scheme to re-open the pool.

The Broomhill Pool Trust was formed, and eventually Fusion Lifestyle – which has restored other lidos in southern England – was persuaded to take on the project.

The lottery bid was drawn up over many months, stretching to years, and today’s announcement confirms that the project is well on its way – the pool could be open again before the end of the decade.

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