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Friday, August 17, 2012
It’s 20 years since the gates were locked for the last time at the much loved and much missed Lakenham Swimming Pool - it was the end of an era.
It was 20 years ago when we lost an old friend – a place which was a second home to generations of boys and girls.
We continue our journey around the parks and playgrounds of Norwich by remembering some splashing summer days at a much-loved old city hot spot.
Lakenham Swimming Pool.
When the sun had its hat on there was only one place to be – Costa del Lakenham.
It is, believe it or not, two decades since the plug was pulled at the popular open-air swimming pool, and the water drained away for the last time and it was demolished.
But the memories remain...
Stretched out in the sunshine, eyes closed, you could hear the water splashing and the children playing.
During the long summer holidays so many children spent all day at the pool where they learnt to swim.
And at weekend families would pack up picnics and spend the day by the popular pool. It was such a family friendly meeting place.
A water-side community centre where you could always catch up on the local gossip.
The original 80-yard pool was built in 1908 when part of the River Yare was sealed off and made safe.
In the 1920s and 30 big galas were held at the pool, attracting swimmers from all over East Anglia.
Norwich City Police, in the days of the old city force, held regular fun-filled events at the pool which raised plenty of laughs and strengthened their relationship with the people.
The local bobbies were very much a part of the neighbourhood.
And the pool was a big hit with visiting American airmen stationed at the bases around Norwich during the Second World War. Their colourful trunks raised a laugh and they were quite outrageous in those days of dull swim wear.
In the 1980s children under 16 were allowed in free and hundreds of them jumped in at the deep end. It was a wonderful place for the youngsters – and it kept them off the streets in the long summer holiday.
They could spend the whole day there and parents would know they were safe.
By the end of the 1992 season – when it had been open for 12 weeks attracting about 10,500 people – the rumours that the pool was about to close were good proved to be true.
It was announced it was likely to cost around £100,000 to make improvements before it could re-open.
It never did – despite moves to keep it open.
Times had changed and it seemed that the days of open-air swimming pools were coming to an end.
Lakenham had been allowed to run down and now it was too expensive to give it the loving care and attention it deserved.
It was a sad day 20 years ago when Peter Turner, who ran the snack shop at the pool, shut up shop for the last time.
Staff and friends said goodbye to each other and the water – the pool held about 335 gallons – was drained away for the last time.
The next visitors would be the demolition men.
If you have any memories or photographs at life at Lakenham pool over the years please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a line at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.