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 also worked at VME about the same time. I was the welder there. Trouble is I cannot remember anyone’s name. I can remember filling milk bottles with acetylene, capping the end with paper, lighting and throwing.

    By Dennis Fountain (25/07/2021)
  • I and my brother learnt to swim in that pool. We were living down the bottom of Hawk Lane where my dad worked for VME Conveyors. At the top of the lane there was a grocers that baked the most wonderful bread rolls, does anyone remember them? It would have been around 58-60 and they were still there in 1969 when I started my first job at V.M.E.

    By Bob Knight (29/06/2021)
  • Editor: Steve Card, who made the original request for information about the swimming pool, has added this comment “Many thanks for all the extra information about this pool. My older brother used to take me there, I think so he could check out the girls, as I don’t remember him doing any swimming!”

    By Bob Plimmer (21/03/2021)
  • Yes I remember the swimming pool very well. Used to swim there nearly every summer’s day. My school had its swimming sports there every year.

    By Lynne Laughton (20/02/2021)
  • On ‘Hockley as it was’ facebook group we have just covered the subject of this swimming pool, you may like to join in with your memories

    By Chris (05/01/2021)
  • I loved going to Battlesbridge pool. We cycled from Rayleigh, and used to play music on the juke box. I went late 50s early 60s. Really loved the place.

    By Trudy Scarrott (02/10/2020)
  • Hi all. I now live in Brisbane, Australia, emmigrated in 1962 with family.

    I remember the Battlesbridge pool fondly, late 50s early 60s. I learnt to swim there. Mr Hare from Rayleigh Secondary School took us there once a week for swimming lessons. At holiday time we would bike from Rayleigh to the pool, swim all day and bike back.

    Also remember the lock-gate there and would play along the banks. All good memories of those days.

    Any one remember Tony Wild or Sandra Wild? We lived on London Hill.

    By Peter (Tony ) Wild (23/04/2020)
  • Battlesbridge Swimming Pool was called May Phill.
    In 1934 Philip Horace Evans (1880-1965), a Master Builder of Chase Side, Southgate, bought an old country house in Battlesbridge with seven acres of land. At a cost of £14,000 he renovated the old house and built a swimming pool 175 feet in length by 50 feet wide with an adjacent refreshment buffet. The water in the pool was refreshed twice a day by the rising tide. The pool was opened on 20 July 1935 by Alderman Victor R Tattersall JP (Mayor of Southend in 1932) and Alderman John Ockelford Thompson (seven times Mayor of Chelmsford). The May Phill Road House, as the main building was originally called, had a tea room, dining room and dance hall. It was later licensed and called the May Phill Hotel. There was also a facility on the site to play table tennis. The pool was temporarily closed in 1936 in order to install a Paterson purification plant.

    By David C Rayment (18/04/2020)
  • I spent many happy times at Battlesbridge swimming pool, often with my friend Vivienne Cox. We usually caught the 251 bus from Rayleigh, though I do remember being driven there by Vivienne’s uncle, in his Messerschmitt, (a very small car!), both of us squashed in the rear seat.
    I remember there was a licensed club house which occasionally my parents would visit. My brother and I, after our swim, would be perfectly content drinking coke and playing on the juke box.
    Those were happy times and I have often rued the day when the pool closed.

    By Frances Davis (16/04/2020)
  • I went a few times in the Summer around 1957-8 for a bit of a splash-about but all I can clearly remember was that we used to catch the Green (Eastern Nat) No 251 from Rayleigh High St.

    By Terry Ive (24/02/2019)
  • 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)

    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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