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Childhood memories of the 1940s

Black Rock Swimming Pool undated
Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

Displays of model ships

I wonder if I am the only person who remembers the post-war night-time displays of model ships actually sailing in Black Rock Lido Swimming Pool itself in the late 1940s? My family had the top flat of the centre house on Arundel Terrace and naturally I was taken to the pool many times as a six year old. We used to go straight after school, which was St. Marks Primary on the corner of Eastern Road and Arundel Road.

Were they radio controlled?

At around 9 o’clock on some summer evenings. the lido hosted model boat shows. I believe these craft, some about 6 ft long, were radio controlled but in the 1940’s could that ever have been a possibility? Maybe the models had control lines attached; I can’t really remember. The whole show was spot lit and was like a gala evening. Most of these mini-ships were Royal Navy destroyers, frigates, and painted ‘battle ship’ grey. I think there was a commentary over the ‘horned’ Tannoy.

Anti-tank traps on the beach

I remember the whole of Brighton beach at that point was still scattered with anti-tank traps made of concrete and in the shapes of pyramids. There were hundreds of the things! I also remember the occasional weekend ‘Midget’ racing car trials. They were run from just outside the Aquarium, along Madeira Drive, up the hill and back along Marine Parade. Without too much effort, I can still smell the Castrol Oil belching from the car’s deafening engines. Bliss!

Fantastic underwater show

I certainly recall at that post war period, a live show on Brighton sea front; I cannot remember exactly where it was presented. On the stage was a vast glass fronted water tank, where scenes of underwater war time heroics were re-enacted for the pleasure and wonderment of the audience. The auditorium was in total darkness save for the sea-green glow of the 25 ft wide aquarium. In it were real frogmen, two-man torpedos and mines. A man at the side of the stage dressed in full naval uniform gave a very detailed account of what was being portrayed. Right at the end of this spectacular show, to the sounds of parrots and bird songs, the lights came on, and we all gasped at the sight of Jane being rescued from the jaws of a crocodile (plastic) by none other than the real Tarzan himself! Fantastic!

Comments about this page

  • The only thing I remember about this swimming pool is that I went there one day when I was probably about 10 and I was not a good swimmer. Anyway I got out of my depth and nearly drowned and was lucky to be pulled out. I never went there again.

    By Dennis Fielder (19/10/2012)
  • I lived on Arundel Road from 1945 to 1951 and enjoyed the Black Rock lido, which was never replaced after being irresponsibly destroyed. I learned to swim in that pool, and remember the horror of the “deep end” for me as a child. I had forgotten the strange metal frames that came in exchange for a ticket. It was unheated sea water, so it was never warm.

    By Roland Morgan (14/12/2012)

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