Remembering the Lido past

Being told that Matlock Lido is closing for ever on Sunday, August 14, 2011, made me reminisce of my more than 50 years association with the Lido.

I learned to swim aged round three years in the indoor pool progressing to the huge magnificent outdoor pool at around five years of age. I spent virtually the whole summer holidays at the lido, and if my memory is correct the sun shone constantly.

I well remember swimming galas from All Saints and Ernest Bailey Schools and still have a cup “The Blagshaw Swimming Trophy 1966” from my last of junior school. Jack Soppitt was the king of the lido, ruling with a powerful silver whistle. We dived or jumped off the iconic 5 metre board into a melee of swimmers (how no one go killed, I will never know). There was a 3 metre and 1 metre spring board as well as a fabulous slide. We would spend our thruppney bits at the tuck shop window of the lido restaurant. Mum used to send us down with sandwiches and squash to spend endless days at the lido.

In winter we would dive into the freezing outdoor pool which was covered in leaves and debris, then we would dash into the “boiling” indoor pool to warm up. There were also slipper baths there, but I never really knew what they were (hot baths for people not fortunate to own indoor bathrooms).

Aged around 10 years, we tirelessly fund raised to “raise the roof” (I am sure people got sick of our sponsored 100 length swims at 2 pence or a shilling a length) and eventually the roof was built, the boards and slide went and the current pool was born. I went on to swim for school, county, and even won a Midlands area championship once.

The lido brings back such memories of a simpler time when kids could wander safely alone from dawn until dusk. They were great times and Matlock Lido, its staff and place in the hearts of so many will be sadly missed. God, I sound old!

Les Davis