We dived right into summer

OPEN air swimming pools were once a popular facility in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Stowmarket. Ipswich had Broom Hill Pools, which would be packed on warm summer's days, with hundreds enjoying a day out.

OPEN air swimming pools were once a popular facility in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Stowmarket. Ipswich had Broom Hill Pools, which would be packed on warm summer's days, with hundreds enjoying a day out.

A long queue would extend down Sherrington Road waiting for a space when the pool reached capacity. Picnics and sunbathing was enjoyed on the sloping concrete beside the pool. Pipers Vale, on the east bank of the River Orwell was a smaller pool, but was enjoyed by crowds with its views across the river.

Among my memories of Pipers Vale is school swimming lessons from both Cliff Lane Primary and Landseer Secondary Modern. While Pipers Vale was a treat on a warm day it was like the arctic on a slate grey windy day, which it always seemed to be for my school lessons!

Sadly all of these lidos have now closed. There is no trace of Pipers Vale, which was close to where the Orwell Bridge meets the shore at “The Lairs”. Despite all the efforts to save Broom Hill Pools the 1930s structure looks in a sad state as it stands closed.


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Memories of the open air pool at Felixstowe were referred to in Kindred Spirits recently and Jack Adams of Sandringham Close, Ipswich, can recall hours of fun there before the pool was badly damaged when the East Coast flooded in 1953.

Jack said: “I remember the Manor House swimming pool very well. Many boyhood summer holidays were spent there, it was filled with filtered seawater. A season ticket cost ten shillings and sixpence, but it was good value as you could spend the whole summer from ten in the morning until quite late, seven days a week.

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“Unlike today it was not run on “politically correct” lines, we ran on the poolside and jumped in the water. Some boys would pretend to be chased up the ladders to the diving boards and frighten unsuspecting guests staying at the hotel by seeming to fall off screaming on the way down. The water chute was also very popular.

“In all the years I attended there was never an accident, although we took the bumps and bruises for granted and our parents would never have thought of suing anybody if anything had happened. There were steps leading down into the pool situated near the fountain, this was a popular area to sit and chat. I and school friends spent many happy hours there and were very sad when it didn't open again in the summer of 1953.”

• Pipers Vale Pools opened in 1937. The surround of the 150ft. pool was covered with shingle for sunbathing. There was a separate shallow paddling pool for small children also with a shingle beach and sand pits. Broom Hill opened in April the following year at a cost of £17,000. Both pools had diving boards.

•  It was 100 years ago in September 1906 when the Ipswich Municipal School opened at Tower Ramparts. It became the Ipswich Central School and later Tower Ramparts Secondary School. I was recently reminded of this fact by Mr J Towns of Kesgrave and asked readers for their memories of the school where the Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre was built in 1986. Brian Bedwell of Rectory Green, Beckenham, Kent, told me of his time there in the late 1930s.

Brian said: “I joined the Central School the day after war broke out and we were promptly sent home for two or three weeks while the school prepared to receive a school evacuated from Ilford. When we started, we were on half time. During the 'phoney war' the evacuees started drifting back to London and by Christmas we were back on full time, apart from when we were in the air raid shelters under the playground.

“When France fell, pupils had the opportunity to be evacuated and the numbers fell dramatically. Whilst those of us who remained attended full time, our lessons were sometimes rather strange. If a teacher was absent, the sliding doors between the two art classes were opened and the poor teacher had a double class, quite often for an entire day! All the science teachers joined the forces early in the war so my science education was nil. Discipline, this was never a problem. Those of us who had been 'trained' at Argyle Street School were already used to good doses of the cane. By the end of the third year I had learnt to read and write and these skills enabled me to obtain an apprenticeship in the machine room of the East Anglian and Daily Times where I started on my 14th birthday.

“Of the teachers, I particularly recall Mr Turner, who had received a rather uncomfortable wound in World War One and was unable to sit down much! Mr Baird, who left his left leg in France in the same war, was another character I recall. My final class teacher was a Mr Gosling. I now live in South London, but on my occasional visits to Ipswich often spend time in the Tower Ramparts shopping centre, a rather strange feeling for a former pupil of the Central School!”

•  Do you have open air pool or Tower Ramparts school memories to share with readers of Kindred Spirits? If so, write to Dave Kindred, Kindred Spirits, Evening Star 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

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