Reflections from the 1960’​s

These are the Lido Memories of siblings, Mary Hartley and Isabel Knipes nee Hartley, Isabel can be swimming most days in the summer. Mary although she lives in Stockport she visits Peterborough and her sister, regularly and swims in the Lido while she’s here.

Mary’s memories: She first came to the Lido as a young 2 or 3 year old toddler and was taught to swim by her Father, Ernest Hartley

“I moved away from Peterborough in 1975 but prior to that, I used to go to the outdoor pool every day that it was open. I eagerly awaited the start of each summer season and went to the end of season parties. 

I used to cycle there for 7am before school and swim 32 lengths then cycle home for breakfast. Sometimes I went after school as well for swimming club. 

There was a seasonal membership scheme so you could just take your card in to be admitted. I used to take a flask of hot oxo or bovril to drink afterwards. This was before the pool was heated. 

The Lido Fountains. Ian and Isabel Harley with their Mother, Connie Hartley.

I remember the swimming galas when the balconies would be packed with spectators and the tannoy would announce the winners of each race. The swimming club also used to compete with other clubs for swimming and diving. I remember going to compete in the junior section at Leeds once. This would have been in the Brian Brinkley era. I recollect that he went on to represent UK in the Olympic games. 

I was also involved with the lifesaving club where we trained to gain the bronze medallion. This involved retrieving a brick from the deep end, making a flotation device from pyjamas, swimming certain distances and rescuing a person in difficulties in the water. There was also a complicated theory and first aid element and we had to learn various revival methods including the Holger Nielsen method as well as mouth to mouth on the resussi-annie. We used to compete with other clubs in regard to how well we dealt with a rescue situation which had been set up for us to respond to. One I particularly remember was at Huntingdon when we had a scenario where a pram with a baby in it went into the water. 

There was still a chute and three diving boards at the deep end of the big pool when I was swimming there. There were low and high springboard and the high diving board which was eventually taken out because the depth of the pool was not deemed sufficient. I only ever dived off the high board once and you had to be ready to push off from the bottom of the pool after the dive. 

There was a refreshment kiosk that sold bovril and wagon wheels amongst other things, mainly confectionary. 

I remember this with great affection, many happy, sunny days and lots of friends made at swimming and lifesaving clubs.”  

Mary Hartley

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Isabel’s memories: It wasn’t known as “The Lido” when I  was first taken to the open air pool by my Father who taught me to swim. There was no additional heating & I remember 16degrees on opening day.  The fountain & the diving boards are now gone. I only once went off the top board, that was enough.  As a young teenager I slipped & got my knee fast between the rail & the wall, I think an extra rail was fitted after that.

  As a youngster Mrs Wright taught & tested for Amateur Swimming Association ( ASA ) & Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) badges. We were awarded a free season ticket if we passed. Anyone remember “drownproofing”?

In the 1970’s after returning to Peterborough from College I taught ASA & RLSS classes & was a founder member of the Peterborough Life Saving Club.  There were competitions with other clubs. I also had a season where I taught adults to swim, very rewarding.

Isabel Knipe nee Hartley.

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