Only two pools
There were only ever two pools at The Lagoon. The smaller one was used for small rowing boats and Red Indian style canoes. It had a hut at the southwest corner from where you bought a ticket, for 30 minutes or an hour, I think, although it could have been 15 minutes and 30 minutes. The larger pool was used for small, varnished, clinker built sailing boats and motor boats. The ‘third pool’ was in fact no more than a recessed area of the main pool that was separated by a wooden walkway with hinged sections to allow the boats to be locked away in there at night.
Sunday afternoons most popular
There was also a hut built onto this walkway where you bought tickets for boats on the larger pool. The boathouse for the surfing club is built over this now but the recess was identical to, and directly opposite, the one on the north side of the pool that you can still see today. The trains used to be on the grass just above the northern recess. The larger pool has always been used by enthusiasts for model sailing and power boats. Sunday afternoons at the western end in particular were the most popular day for them but the small pool, too, was used by many boys with plastic hulled yachts.
Paddling pool a recent addition
The larger and smaller pools were separated, then as now, by a strip of paved walkway that has a protuberance into the smaller pool about halfway along its length. On this used to sit a large brown marble drinking fountain which was removed sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The paddling pool is quite a recent addition to The Lagoon, I would say within the last 15 or so years. Before that there was a sand pit which often smelt of dogs. The childrens’ swings and roundabouts used to be just to the northwest of the cafe building, and the pools were usually drained once a year or so to clear out the sludge.
Getting covered in tar
If I remember correctly, both pools are filled from the harbour by a pipe below ground. As a boy I spent many, many, hours at The Lagoon or just over on either the Hove Deep Sea Anglers beach more commonly called ‘First Beach’. From the age of seven or eight we used to go to the beach all day by ourselves in the summer. Apart from getting home covered in tar (which our Mums would take off with butter), I don’t recall anyone coming to any harm at all. Today, our parents would have been locked up for neglect.