Mayfield's Swimming Pool in Battlesbridge

Steve Card's enquiry, and memories from contributors.

Can anyone else remember the open air swimming pool at Battlesbridge? I believe it closed after becoming contaminated during the 1958 floods. It was situated near The Hawk public house, and from memory had outside changing rooms and a diving area. I think it was called Mayfield’s (?)

John Fuller sent in this newspaper cutting of a swimming gala held at the pool in Battlesbridge. John's comments are shown below.

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  • I went to Ashingdon Primary School and we were bussed to Battlesbridge open air pool for weekly swimming lessons. In fact that was when I learnt to swim.
    I am fairly certain we only went during the summer.

    By Marilyn Kirk (03/07/2018)
  • During the summer holidays I spent a lot of time at the Mayfield’s swimming pool, in Battlesbridge. Mayfield’s was an open air pool that drew its water from the River Crouch at Battlesbridge. At Battlesbridge the river was tidal so the water in the pool was salt water. This enhanced bouyancy was very helpful for novice swimmers, and although I had learnt to swim before visiting Mayfield’s, I certainly gained my confidence at Mayfield’s. I bought a 12/6d season ticket for the the summer holidays and would cycle from Wickford to the pool, on my own, or with friends. The only downside was a long hill one had to climb coming and going. Entry to the pool was via a single turnstile in a small cabin. The changing cubicles were mixed sex and in a single row along one side of the pool. On the other side was a grass bank where you could lie on your towel and sun bathe. The pool was a decent size. At one end it had a high diving board, and an intermediate board. I never learned to dive, but I eventually found the courage to leap off the high board. I would leap off stiff as a board, my feet would touch the bottom, and I would push hard to bring me back to the surface – exhilarating. Even then the pool must have been quite old, probably dating to the 1920/30s when these pools were becoming popular. However, it brought us enormous, unending pleasure. On practically every sunny day, during the summer school holidays, I was at the pool.

    In my first year at Wickford Secondary School we were bused to Billericay once a week for swimming lessons. The pool was old, probably late 19th century, glazed with brown tiles, and changing cubicles down both long sides of the pool; men one side and women the other. Our school swimming lesson at Billericay didn’t last long, though. One day there was a change and the coach took us to Mayfield’s Pool, Battlesbridge instead. I remember these times clearly, because it was winter – and remember, the pool was open air! They only took the boys on these occasions, and interestingly, Mr Ward, the headmaster came along, too. He had a limp that I suspect was the result of polio when he was younger. He walked with a limp, but that was no hinderance to him having a swim with the rest of us. I think he really enjoyed coming along with us, and getting away from the school for a morning.
    These mornings were perishing, and the only reason there wasn’t ice on the pool was that it was salt water which freezes at a lower temperature. We all huddled freezing by the pool edge, knowing the water would be even colder. Mr Ward would always leap in first and do a couple of lengths before we got near to the water. I don’t remember any other teacher getting into the water, although they admonished us to jump quickly into the water. Mr Ward would shout out from the pool that the water was wonderful. I remember my Dad saying that when your body turned blue you should always get out of the water. Well, on these visits my body was well blue before I hit the water!

    By Martin Bishop (11/12/2017)
  • I REMEMBER IT WELL.
    BIT COLD…

    By ALAN HIGLEY (29/11/2017)
  • I remember going to Battlesbridge swimming pool in the early 1960s. We moved to Billericay in February 1960 so it was either the summer of 1960 or 1961.

    By Steve Alexander (29/06/2017)
  • In 1957 I taught myself to swim in the Mayfield’s swimming bath.  I had saved up monies from my paper round and bought a pair of flippers. These gave me sufficient confidence to get my feet off the bottom of the pool.  My father was impressed and paid half a crown (12.5p) per hour for the school swimming coach, Ray Smith from Leigh-on-Sea to give me summer swimming lessons for the rest of 1957 and 1958. With tuition I learned the correct way to swim and dive.

    I can remember, maybe May 1958, swimming in the Mayfield pool and there was freak weather event, a snow storm, which lasted about 10 minutes.  As a teenager I just carried on swimming whilst everybody else got out of the pool!

    In 1959 Marlies Chase and I were Constable House (Wickford Secondary Modern School) swimming team house captains and were presented with a championship shield. 

    By John Fuller (10/06/2017)
  • There was a hotel at MAYFIELDS. It is now SMITHS PLASTICS.

    By ALAN HIGLEY (05/06/2017)
  • Ref above swimming pool: I was friends with the son of the owner of this and I remember getting a life preserver from Gamage’s [anyone remember them?] for about  2/6d. This was put across one’s chest, blown up with air and held in place by canvas straps.

    I tried going in the pool, I got this aid because I could not swim and still sink like a brick. Did it help? NO!

    This was about 1948 and I remember getting a small tin badge with a V on the front to denote V for victory from my friend. Should have kept it.  

    By Robert Howard (02/06/2017)
  • Yes, it was called Mayfield but in my recollection, before 1952, we left school in Market Road to learn to swim at Battlesbridge, but on arriving we discovered a pool of green dirty water and nothing working, so had to go back to school. What organisation.

    It became a night club in later years and we had some good nights there, and I still can’t swim.

    By bobcroot (29/05/2017)

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