Days Gone By: Memories of Fore Street swimming pool in Ipswich
The coast of California USA and Fore Street, Ipswich swimming pool are worlds apart in several ways, but for former Ipswich lady, Karen Quezada, nee Spanner, who now lives in California, the little Victorian built pool in Ipswich holds a special place in her heart.
In today’s Days Gone By I feature Karen’s memories along with photographs taken at the pools in its 124 year history.
The Ipswich Swimming club had been campaigning in the late 1880s for an indoor pool, this coincided with the need for washing facilities for the residents of hundreds of residents in the area around Fore Street, whose home had no bathrooms, or in many cases running water. Their homes had been poorly built largely for the families of hundreds of workers at the expanding Ipswich engineering companies.
Wealthy businessman, Felix Thornley Cobbold, of the brewing family, offered a site he owned and £1,200 if the council paid the balance. The Fore Street Baths opened in 1894 at a total cost of £4,300.
At the end of the first year, 14,412 people had used the 12 slipper baths. Each bath had a mirror, soap and a comb.
Do you have memories to share of Fore Street swimming pool?
To submit a letter, in less than 300 words, write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or e-mail email@example.com
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Karen Quezada emailed in and said: “I went to Rosehill School, Derby Road, Ipswich, and every Monday afternoon we went to Fore Street swimming pool. I think we caught a bus. I remember lining up along the lane beside the pool waiting to get in. I continued to go there every week.
“My Dad would drop me off in the safe keeping of Barry the attendant one evening a week, while Mum went to bingo. On one occasion, when my Dad dropped me at Fore Street, I had a scary moment. I wanted to be able to swim so badly. I had heard that if a person found themselves in a situation where they desperately needed to swim, they would learn in that moment.
“So I edged along the pool side to the deep end. Then pushed off. I remember sinking down and raising up about three times. I vividly remember seeing the blue painted bricks passing by and reaching up to grab the elusive edge.
“I was not scared, but wondering when I would miraculously learn to swim. Suddenly someone grabbed my hand and I found myself standing outside the pool. I was seven years old. Barry the attendant had saved me. He was a good friend to me all through my teen years. I wonder where he is now?
“I continued my visits to the pool during my teens and went there every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. I have been living in the USA for almost 40 years, but I never return to Ipswich without visiting Fore Street Baths. I live in Santa Maria, on the Central Coast of California.
“I have not been back to England since 1999 when my mum passed away. I am so excited, because this month, on June 20, I am returning with my daughter, although it will be bitter sweet as both of my parents are now passed.
“My parents were Bert and Masie Spanner. Every Thursday afternoon my Mum and I would go shopping in Ipswich. One of my earliest memories was riding the lift in Footman’s. It had an attendant to push the buttons. Corders had a place for afternoon tea and cakes, I would always order the meringue. We would get a taxi home from Lloyds Avenue. I went to Fonnereau House School in 1969-1974. Five friends are meeting in Ipswich on June 20. One now lives in Leicester, two in Ipswich, one in North Carolina and myself in California. It must be 40 years since we were last together, so it will be quite a reunion.”
Grimwade’s shop on the Cornhill, Ipswich, featured recently and Ipswich reader Beryl Willson has sent her memories of the shop.
Beryl Willson wrote in and said: “My memories of Grimwade’s take me back a few years. I went to Northgate Grammar School for Girls, Ipswich, in 1946. “There were two places in Ipswich to purchase the full school uniform of dark green and pale blue, Grimwade’s and Edwards. My aunt, Margaret Spencer, was the alterations assistant at Grimwade’s for a number of years. My grandmother, Maud Kerridge, who lived in Old Foundry Road, opposite the entrance to Phillips and Pipers and helped to serve lunches in the canteen there until she was 80, always had a new dress from Grimwade’s for special family occasions. She lived to the age of 97. Her outings were to Christchurch Park and the central Co-op where she did all her grocery shopping.”