Sunny deck chair days

Black Rock Lido after WW2
Black Rock lido after the Second World War. From the 'My Brighton' exhibit.

It was the summer holiday ritual. Almost every day during the week (if my mother could afford the bus fares), along with my younger sister, we would go to Black Rock swimming pool. Mum would sit in the deck chair whilst we two practised underwater diving. Usually cheese and pickle or onion sandwiches, with a bottle of homemade orange juice.

A child’s world
This was a child’s world. Although just a teenager, I wasn’t aware of the young handsome men around me. I was there to enjoy my childood, relax with my younger sister and know the comfort of a caring mum.

Hot, dry summers
Why is it my memories of those lovely days were always of hot, dry summers just enjoying the sea, fooling around with my sister and relishing being a kid? An ice cream was a real treat. We weren’t allowed to take our blown-up car tyre into the pool so only used it on the beach.

What did mother do?
What did my mother do during those long sunny deck chair days? I cant remember, she didn’t knit or read newspapers much. Perhaps she just enjoyed the happiness of being with her children, something she knew little of in her own childhood.

Ah, happy days that will go with me into eternity!

Comments about this page

  • I also spent many hours at the Lido as a young teenager between 1950 and 1955; I was taught to swim there by my friend Tim Pierce. Both of us lived in Sussex Square and didn’t have far to go for our swimming and diving off the boards. We also knew Eddy Whaley, the son of the Whaley of Scott and Whaley. He lived in Maderia Drive opposite the Banjo Groyne and now lives in the USA. Now it has gone, my memories are still there though.

    By Vic Bath (01/06/2004)
  • Black Rock Lido & Sussex Square. I have just seen Vic Bath’s comment and thank him for providing both first name and correct my spelling of Eddy Whaley. A school friend, Carole Cornford, lived nearby in Chichester Square? or similar and I wonder if the name rings a bell.

    By John Sullivan (26/06/2004)
  • What a rich lot of kids, season tickets, eh? And bus fares yet. My family moved to Brighton in about 1928 when I was six. When the Black Rock pool was opened (I forget which year), we walked down from the top of Freshfield (we lived at 7 Firle) usually going down through the allotments at the top of the hill and coming out behind the hospital in Kemp Town. We had no money so we had to climb over the wall to get into the pool. We stayed there all day, having brought some jam or sugar sandwiches to keep us going while mum was waitressing and dad was bus driving. Then we had to stagger back up the hill in the evening. The alternative was to walk down Freshfield and go swimming in the sea, usually on the Dalton’s beach. As I said, what a life.

    By Robert Green (29/11/2004)
  • As a kid I lived in Whitehawk and spent many a summer day swimming at the Black Rock Swimming Pool. In the winter I had to walk to and from the North Road Baths. If one was lucky you went to St. lukes with or school and swam in warm water.

    By R H Scott-Spencer (26/01/2005)
  • With reference to John Sullivans message of 26/6/04, his friend Carole Cornford would have lived in Chichester Terrace. I was a paper boy at the “Kiosk” newsagents, which is still there opposite St Marks Church, in 1951 to 1953. My round was Chichester Terrace, Sussex Sq, Lewes Crescent and Arundel Terrace, the original Kemp Town. One of my deliveries was to Anna Neagle and her Husband Herbert Wilcox, who lived on the east side of Lewes Crescent, but I never did see them though. One rarely saw the customers, because as they all lived in flats I suppose. The house I lived in was No 18 Sussex Square, which was requisitioned during the war for the billeting of Canadian troops prior to the 1944 invasion of France. It was managed by Brighton Council after the war and my family moved into the top flat in 1949, where we lived until 1953 when it was de-requisitioned. We moved from there to new council flats at Sylvan Hall at the bottom of Ditchling Road. I now live in Oxfordshire.

    By Vic Bath (28/03/2005)
  • As kids in the late 1950’s my sister and I, (then Wendy and Patsy Neale) spent many hours at Black Rock Lido with friends during the summer holidays from St. Paul’s school. We would mostly walk there from our grandparents, Willamy’s Guest House in Dyke Road. I well remember the noises and smells and having my big sister there to look after me. She was a natural swimmer and I was terrified of going out of my depth. Hot summers, ice creams and sunburn, particularly in 1959 I think it was, the hottest August we’d had for years. I now live in Australia and relive those days with fond memories.

    By Patricia Silsby (09/11/2005)
  • What a hive of activity – in and out of the water – the pool was! I lived at the bottom of Paston Place from 1944-50, so I could get there almost every weekday, walking past several good swimming beaches because the diving and the numbers of people were better. I’m afraid I missed many days at college in order to go there.

    By Andrew Holmes-Siedle (26/11/2005)
  • Taking up a previous writer’s mention of Eddie Whaley, of Scott and Whaley: he and his partner lived in Marine Square and the partner’s daughter, Peggy Page, was in our [mid-teen] gang. Most of the males were sweet on her, because she was the prettiest of the females. The other girls from Marine square were all good sports. Playing hide-and-seek around the sea-front gardens after dark was a major pastime, to the detriment of the flower-beds. Is it possible that Max Miller – living a block away – had introduced Eddie to the area?

    By Andrew Holmes-Siedle (26/11/2005)
  • Yes what a time I had in Brighton also. I was evacuated to Brighton 3 days before the war started on the 1st September 1939 and lived in the sweet shop belonging to Flo Heaton, in North Street. We used to share the schools with the local children evacuees one week in the morning and Brighton children in the afternoon..then next week would change over. We use to go winkle picking at Black Rock on Saturdays and Sundays, for a Sunday tea time feast. What a great time we had in Brighton after living in Bermondsey south east London.

    By Bill (Redhill) (04/02/2006)
  • At six years old I was pushed into the pool and sunk to the bottom. After a while it went all warm and nice, looking up to the surface there was activity. I then went to sleep. After lots of speed and bright lights, I opened my eyes. And after many near deaths, at the age of 68 I am still here!

    By Anthony David Stephens (06/03/2006)
  • Ah, yes. When mum and dad could afford it, that would be our outing during summer. It was in the early 60’s. I remember getting very burnt there one year. I remember the foot pools that had to be walked through before you could get in the pool. I remember, if we could afford it, putting out clothes into the coat hanger thingies with baskets attached. Memories. I now live in Melbourne Australia.

    By Sue Kelly (nee Barber) (08/03/2006)
  • I have memories of it in my childhood – very much still a going concern. Much later I took photos of it in final decline – its turnstiles rusted, its clock in surreal arrested flight and its pool full of dirty water and rusting and decaying metal chairs. It was both touching and sad at the same time and not at all hard to hear, as I stood there camera in hand, the past sounds of children laughing.

    By Edward Castle-Herbert (05/08/2006)
  • Ah! I remember Black Rock swimming pool very well indeed. And as I get older I think of all my old mates with great affection. Unfortunately time has dimmed my memory in regard to the names of some of my wonderful friends with whom I had the time of my life. Swimming, diving, laughing, running around and sometimes incurring the wrath of an irate adult whom we had unintentionally (maybe intentionally) aggravated. What a wonderful childhood! We were all very fortunate. Incidentally Andrew, Peggy Page is my cousin. Her mother was my mother’s sister. Peggy, her brother Dennis and their Mum and Dad lived with us during the war because their house had been destroyed. Peggy still lives in Brighton with her husband Keith. I now live in South Florida (water temperature 84F degrees and then some!). But there is nothing to compare to a wonderful icy dip in the Channel off the Banjo groyne. Blimey! we thought the water was hot when it went up to 70F. Remember, if you can run barefoot on the pebbles you are the real deal. A true Brighton Tiger or Tigress! I love you Brighton!

    By Eddie Whaley (22/09/2006)
  • Re Eddie Whaley notes of 22/09/2006 on Black Rock: Would Eddie Whaley or anyone who would have contact with him please contact the undersigned urgently. I am researching my wife’s family history and we have traced a connection with Harry Clifford Scott who was one of the Scott & Whaley entertainer duo. This could be Eddie Whaley’s father. If anyone with any knowledge or information or who remembers either Eddie or the Scott & Whaley Duo, who spent time in Brighton, please email me at:

    By Norman Craggs (02/02/2007)
  • The comments made have brought back so many memories of that wonderful place Black Rock Lido. In the early 50s my parents and grand-parents took my sister and I to Brighton from Hackney in the East End of London for the annual holiday. We stayed in Mr and Mrs Wheeler’s house in Whitehawk Road, so the Lido was normally the first place or the last place we went to on our days out in Brighton and all the other wonderful places nearby. Time seemed to “stand still” and everyday, as somone else mentioned, seemed to be hot and sunny. Hopefully one day Brighton might become the “jewel” it once was – a new West Pier with Punch and Judy, “Mystery ” coach tours from Palace Pier and a new Black Rock lido. It is only now that I can fully appreciate the pleasure it gave to so many thousands upon thousands of people and the “sacrifices” my parents and grand-parents made to take us kids there just after WW2 – I am sure all the people who have commented feel the same.
    What a place and “better days”.

    By Ed Kaley (15/07/2008)
  • I now live in Queensland, Australia. I was just sitting here remembering my youth, and the wonderful days I spent at Blackrock Lido. We would catch the electric train there along the beach. Also the wonderful nights at the Regent Ballroom. My Father was Brighton Police Stations desk Sargeant and our teenage years were full of fun. We went to Dorothy Stringer Comprehensive School and lived in Marlbrough Place. What wonderful memories of my brother Brian who sadly died of cancer – but if i dream of Brighton he is always there. Good times long ago .

    By Patricia White nee Fox (16/05/2010)

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