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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

In the Swim: Sepia Saturday

Poised to dive in, is a swimmer in this week's prompt photograph.  The 1920's-30's  style of costume made my choice of images very obvious. 

South Shore  Open Air  Swimming Pool at Blackpool, Lancashire,  was the setting in  the  early 1930's for  my mother Kathleen Danson, her younger sister Peggy and her great friend, (who I knew as Auntie Phyllis),  to enjoy themselves.  

 Blackpool Tower from the North Pier

       Peggy and Kathleen Danson 

Two decades later in the 1950's, I remember Mum taking my brother and I there for a swim - unfortunately there is no photographs of the day.   As it involved a bus and a tram journey to get there, I can't ever remember going again.

Swimming took off as a popular leisure activity in the 1920's  as part of the interest in  improving health and fitness.  The seaside resort of Blackpool, like with so many initiatives, was one of the first to jump on this bandwagon for building lidos, with the Open Air Baths at South Shore  opening to  visitors in 1923.  

At the time, it was  the largest in the world. and its statistics are staggering.  It cost £75,000 - equivalent to £2,248,000 in today's money.  Built in a the classical style with pillars and colonnades, (you can just make these out in the photograph below),   it could accommodate 8000 spectators/sunbathers,  and 1500 swimmers.     The dimensions met Olympic standards for competitions with a  100-metre length down one side of the pool,  and a 16 feet diving pit with boards graded to 10 metres (from where you could see the mountains and hills of the Lake District).  There were areas for little ones, fountains and slides,  bars and cafes - so  something for everyone. 

In that 1950's and 60's, it became  a popular venue for international and national beauty contests and the location for celebrity photographs. 

Aunt Phyliss -  Look at those shoes - still in fashion!

But, you needed to be hardy in all but the best of weather, as the water was notoriously cold.  From the 1950's   holidaymakers were heading abroad and becoming used to the waters of warmer climes.  Use dropped and the Baths  became a big white elephant.  They were demolished in 1983  to make way for the Sandcastle indoor water complex.  

But for fifty years they remained an iconic image of its era.  


 Little granddaughter enjoying learning to swim, c.2012


Adapted from a post first published in 2012 


 Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share 
their family history and memories through photographs

 Click HERE  to see how other bloggers have dipped their toes in the water.



  1. Neat pix of your mom and aunts in poses by the pool. And of course granddaughter is adorable. Those foam noodles are great - not only for kids, but for adults too when we just want to laze around in the water instead of swimming.

  2. Many thanks for your comment. Ideally I would have liked a good photo of the pool, but could not find a copyright free one, and am still waiting on a reply for permission to use one image. A pity!

  3. 8000!?!? I can't even imagine that many people together in one place. It must have been a beautiful facility though.

  4. The size of that pool is amazing. Too bad the water was so cold.

  5. Lovely photographs of your mother, aunt and 'Aunty' Phyliss. Is that your mother in the second photograph too?

    1. Yes, Jo - that was my mother in the first two photos at the pool.

  6. I'm shaking my head over the shoe thing...bathing suits and shoes? Doesn't make any sense, unless it's part of that "beauty" business...great photos. Lido is a new word for me...

    1. I wondered if Auntie Phyliss was there to sunbathe, rather than swim - hence the shoes.

  7. Kathleen was a beauty in her own right.

  8. Was it chlorinated or salt water, being by the ocean...?

  9. Love the shoes with the suits; especially the ones worn by Aunt Phyllis!

  10. Beautiful pics and beautiful girls


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