Sutton Coldfield local council would once a blue moon during summer let the swimming pool in the Park be opened for the towns people. When I was but a kid living there was no indoor public swimming baths. A trip to a pool in another town around the outskirts of Birmingham was the only option, for most of the year. It was too much bother for my family to be taken to a swimming pool for a trip to have pool side fun.
The park has not changed much in size since the town was given the gift of the park by Henry the Eighth. Sutton Park is big enough to be one of the biggest urban parks in all of Europe. Blackroot, Powell's Pool and Bracebridge lakes are in the park and the swimming pool is situated at one in the middle called Keepers, it was not a salt water pool of course. The Lido as the pool would have been called when it was first opened has woods behind it and the lake edge on the other side. Summer time opening times and the days it was available would be in the newspaper, so we would look out for that.
Getting a day when the pool was open and the weather was good enough was difficult in the English summers. Sunny hot summers days when they did happen meant we scooted down to the park for a dip. Ice cream’s were the order of the day if by luck the ice cream van was present. Through the 1970’s every now and then we would have the treat of a trip to Keepers Pool. Children can’t have the freedom that we had to do things like that, any more, what a shame.
The pool was a definite back to basics experience due to the old age of the pool, no swimming pool lights. Seeing as there were no lockers you had to put the clothes into a bag and have them with you in the sunbathing lawn. Picnics and just sunbathing were popular on the grassy area next to the pools and the lake.
There was a babies and toddlers pool with their moms and the main pool not that big either for the bigger brats. Didn’t really matter that the pool was a bit on the small side for the size of the town as not than many knew when it would be open. Jumping into the lake was possible though a gap in the fence between the lake and the pool. Us young boys would go in the lake when we dared each other to do so of course.
Sweets and ice creams were on offer at the small shop up by the changing rooms. Family swimming pool atmosphere with the usual squeals, crying, laughing and the sound of happy mayhem. Designed for open air all weather swimming a very long time ago and it was popular with the people of the town. In 2004 it was burned to the ground after it being closed the year before after a previous arson attack.