Childhood Memories of The Strand Lido Gillingham

The Strand Lido Gillingham swimming history
The Strand – Gillingham

From Kent History Forum, Shell remembers: “I loved the Strand as a child, to me it seemed it was my very own personal playground! From the start of summer at the age of five, until the end of summer when I was eleven, my mum was in charge of the boating pool at the Strand, and also kept an eye on the paddling pool next door. She’d stand around in her waders in the water for most of the day, helping people in and out of the boats, charging 20p for half an hour.

Almost every School day from about the age of eight, I was helped on to the 145 bus to the Strand… Got off the bus, and went over to the boating pool, let Mum know I was there, and headed for the swimming pool.

Every year Mum got me a season ticket for the pool, and as children do, rain or shine I’d be in the pool, even if I was sitting on the bar in the shallow end, because the water was too cold to swim in! It was there that I was taught to swim by ‘Auntie’ Rita, the head lifeguard, and was kept an unofficial eye on by the sun-tan ladies.  And if I wasn’t there, I was running around the play equipment, outside…

During the summer holidays, nearly everyday except Sunday’s, I was down there, running around… I had boundaries of where I could and couldn’t go.  I was to stay away from the road, not leave the Strand, not to go past the golf cabin, not to talk to strangers, and not to go onto the beach, without an adult, because it was dangerous.  And the one time I did sneak onto the beach to see my first jellyfish, my dad, who worked for the council, happened to be down the Strand that day and saw me!  Then I really was stuck in Mum’s cabin with nothing to do!

…There were a lot of fun times there, but it’s all changed now.  But every now and then, I still get, “Did your mum work at the Strand” or  a “I remember you, your ‘Auntie’ Pam’s daughter, from the boating pool!”  As most of the regular locals knew my mum as either ‘Auntie’ Pam or Mrs Boating Pool Lady!”

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