Do you remember swimming in your pyjamas? Old photos of maintenance work at former town swimming pool brings back memories
Photos by Roger Tutt – words by My Sevenoaks Community Editor Frank Baldwin
MANY older Sevenoaks residents can remember learning to swim, particularly during their school days, at the former town swimming pool in Eardley Road which first opened in 1914.
The pool building, which was demolished in the 80s to make way for the Sevenoaks District Council offices, closed down for a few weeks towards the end of each year so that annual maintenance work could be carried out and this included emptying the pool of water.
On one of these occasions, former Sevenoaks photographer Roger Tutt captured these photographs of manager Jeff Everard and Colin London-Latter working on the boilers, and other staff members sweeping out the empty pool.
Kemsing resident Robert Willis went to Wildernesse school with Jeff Everard whose father was also the former manager at the pool. Robert, who mother also worked there, said: “Every winter they used to drain the pool to clean it. A couple of times when Jeff and I were kids we got in to the empty pool and played badminton for a bit of fun. I don’t think his father was very pleased when he found out!”
A touch of glamour was introduced after the pool was refilled one year when local girl Zanda Valder agreed to be the first person to take a dip – and this was before the pool had been reheated!
When the pool was open, customers would climb the stone steps from Eardley Road to the entrance. They would push through the old white double swing doors and pay at the glass-fronted ticket office on the left or use the ticket machines on the wall on the right. Then it was through another set of doors where, more often than not, they would be hit by an overpowering smell of the chlorine that was used in the pool and often left swimmers with red, stingy eyes.
Half-way down on the left-hand side between the viewing benches there was a door to the mixed changing rooms where you could find a grey metal basket to put your clothes into. Then you would wait your turn to use one of the single changing cubicles with a thin plastic curtain to protect your modesty.
It was then a challenge to find a spare place to hang your basket, making sure you didn’t put it down on the wet floor which was covered in wooden slatted duck boards.
Sometimes school children were asked to change in another smaller store/boiler room to the rear of the building near the shallow end where finding your own clothes afterwards was quite a free-for-all as they were just left in piles.
Can you remember taking your bronze, silver and gold swimming and life-saving awards at the pool? The spring board at the deep end would be propped up at an alarming angle and pupils would be instructed to climb up it before plunging into the pool, usually wearing pyjamas!
Various challenges then followed, including treading water for several minutes, diving for a brick at the bottom of the deep end and removing pyjama bottoms, tying the legs and then breathing into them to create a rudimentary float.
If you passed the test, you received a bronze, silver or gold badge which would then be proudly sewn onto your swimming trunks or costume. Do they still have these tests at the new pool?
* These photographs by Roger Tutt have probably brought back many memories for older Sevenoaks residents. But we cannot find a photograph of the outside of the original pool or the former Sevenoaks fire station that was next door in Eardley Road. Does anyone have any? If you do we would love to see them at My Sevenoaks Community. Contact us on: email@example.com