Our Brentwood History Columnist, author and Brentwood Writer’s Circle Vice-President Sylvia Kent delves deeply into the history of the area’s former outdoor swimming pool.
With the temperatures soaring, the thoughts of many Brentwood residents will turn to relaxation and the elderly will remember how, as children, they loved their local outdoor pool.
For memories of the past, I turn to a wonderful group of people who grew up in the surrounding towns. Some have now taken up their pens and written their own personal accounts of the past.
Doug Brown, a resident of Hutton, is well known to many residents of Billericay and Brentwood, where he has spent most of his working life as a bus and coach driver.
Doug is proud of his mother’s well-known family, the Attridge, who many years ago had a road in Billericay named after their dynasty.
Like many people, Doug enjoys writing about his colorful life. Numerous articles have been published in the local press, as well as in the magazine Essex Bus Enthusiasts Club. We can count on him to make his readers laugh.
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Doug remembers when Brentwood had his own outdoor pool. Built in 1935, the pool had been on the city council agenda since 1919. Although land – then known as Debtors’ Field – had been allocated to this project, there had been no funds for what some advisers considered “frivolity”, so the project was abandoned for years.
But on Saturday August 3, 1935, Cllr Daniel Cornish arrived to officially open the magnificent North Road Pool near Brentwood High Street.
The cost was Â£ 8,000. Cllr Cornish read a congratulatory telegram from his vice-president, Brentwood School principal Cllr James Hough, then the assembled VIPs went to tour the building, including the state-of-the-art pressure filters, pumps and machinery. chlorination that purified and cleaned the water every hour.
The excited kids were all ready for the big plunge, but because of the “respect for the Sabbath” – so prevalent in the 1930s, kids who desperately wanted to take a dip in this bubbly Shangri-La had to wait until Bank Holiday Monday to test them out. waters.
Local historian and photographer, the late Geoffrey Perrior, recalls, âI loved this pool and it meant a lot to the kids in Brentwood then and later when I was old enough to go on my own.
âWith my Janzens wrapped in my towel and clutching my yellow pass (a daddy’s birthday present costing 7/6), I proudly displayed my pass as I strolled past the queues of young people.
“I remember Headmaster Charlie carrying a huge bunch of keys to open the steel clothes lockers. I’m sure everyone remembers the notice that said you had to paddle in the foot bath. cold before entering the pool, but we all jumped on it, and always got yelled at if caught.
Much later, during the hot summers of the 1960s, Doug remembers parking his double-decker coach at the City Coach Garage then by the pool, before undressing with some of his fellow drivers and conductors – all ready for a swim. skinny and naughty in the pool after hours (and never caught)!
Eventually all good things come to an end and in the late 1970s the decision was made to build a Sainsbury’s store on the site of the North Road Outdoor Pool.
Many residents still have fond childhood memories of their days by the pool, when weekends and school vacations were often spent in the sun.
I discovered that every building has an interesting story. Over the past 30 years, through the University of the Third Age (U3A), I have had the chance to meet some of Brentwood’s best storytellers, helping them create and publish their own books of memory.
Brentwood Writers’ Circle Welcomes New Members: www.brentwoodwriterscircle.org.uk
For more on Brentwood’s past, signed copies of my latest Amberley Publishing book, Brentwood in 50 Buildings, are available from Waterstones and WHSmith in Essex and Amazon bookstores.