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Swimming Pool

A Memory of Port Erin.

In 1959, my father, Cecil Archibald, was employed for the summer season as attendant at the swimming pool at Spaldrick, Port Erin.
You could enter the swimming pool by paying a fee, for a day; for a week; for two weeks; for a month; or for the season. This arrangement accommodated locals and visitors admirably. With dad working there, I got in for free!
It was a very popular site, as it was something of a sun-trap and was sheltered from all but a wind from the due west. There was a shallow end to the pool at the cafe end, while at the sea end of the pool, it was deep enough to allow diving from both a 3 metre spring board, and a 10 metre diving board.
Each Wednesday through the season, there was a swimming gala held there when swimming races and diving competitions were held. Prizes were given to the winners as trophies to keep. My brother, Roadley was a strong swimmer who in previous years had brought home many prizes, silver ashtrays, paper knives etc. (Not really silver, but chrome plated!!)
On gala days, the footpaths above the pool were closed off by barriers manned by employees of the commissioners, who would allow spectators entry for a small fee. These spectators could then view the gala from terraces cut into the brooghs on the hillside overlooking the pool, or for an extra fee, they could spectate from the poolside.
The water in the pool was pumped in direct from the sea through filters to prevent fish; seaweed; flotsam and jetsam getting into the pool, though if there was a strong inshore wind and a very high tide, some of these could be swept over the wall at the sea end. In this case, it was my father's responsibility to extract such debris. Occasionally, though not often, this might involve emptying the pool by pumping out the water back to the sea and then using a large ladle to extract the unwanted debris.
I learnt to swim that summer, spending every day there. I recall a man by the name of Marshall who gave swimming lessons. Arm bands were unheard of then, as were plastic floats, so if you could not float unaided, he would hook you up to an arrangement of two loops on the end of a long pole, the loops loosely placed around your arms so he could adjust your buoyancy if necessary. Sounds dubious as I write it down now, but I learnt this way, and became quite a strong swimmer.
I especially recall the diving competitions. A young man by the name of Brian King who was employed for the season as lifeguard would take part and was a very good diver, but a man called Eric Quayle was most often the champion diver performing his favourite 'swallow dive'.
Sadly, with the decline in tourism in the late 1960s to early 70s, the pool fell into general disrepair and it was not considered viable to spend large amounts of money to upgrade it, so it found a new use for a few years. It was used as a fish farm.
Even more sad to relate, the pool had no more use after the demise of the fish farm and is now a sorry eyesore.

With thanks to Anthony Archibald for this memory of Port Erin

Added 04 March 2008


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