We have collated many lovely tales and fond - and not so fond! - memories from people who spent time at the baths despite the cold water and inclement British weather!
Some of these memories now adorn the hoarding at the site. Others were hilarious but just a little too risqué to be turned into creative designs! A guest at our Lido Site Open Day recalled:
Wonderful, happy and funny memories – especially the day my dad’s woollen, knitted trunks peeled off when he dived in!
We love these stories and memories and want to hear more! We can't guarantee we can turn them into creative designs but we would love to add them to the others on this page. Please send them to us.
Unfortunately, the site now stands derelict. Current and future generations are missing the opportunity to make their own memories and improve their health and well-being.
Read more about the 'The Derelict Site' here.
Lido Memories brought to life by Zeppo Creative
7/6d for a season ticket. Came every weekend and most evenings in the late '50s and '60s. Bag of chips on the way home!
John William Huggins
From the diaries of the late John William Huggins - born 26th October 1922. The following recollections are from 1935 when he was only 12 or 13 years old. Peter Huggins and his wife Sandra have shared these in tribute to their late father. John would have turned 99 on 26th October 2021 - if only he was still with us.
We think it is just so beautiful and captures why we must restore our outdoor pool for many memories to come.
John's diary was in such beautiful writing. Mother would have been proud! This heart-warming extract reads as follows:
“All I could think about in those days was going to sea. Mother tried her best to dissuade me. Knowing how I disliked water, she said ‘they will not accept you unless you learn to swim.’ That triggered off a real determination in me. At the time I had a paper delivery round and I soon saved the 10/- required for a season ticket to the open air pool in the Wharfemeadows, Otley. Finally, I conquered my fear and when in those very cold waters I had managed to swim a breadth, I could hardly wait to get Mum down to watch me. Surprised and probably deeply unhappy deep down thinking that she would lose me, she did say ‘Well Done!’.That pool was where I spent many happy hours, in fact some days I would swim at lunchtime, then early and again late evenings. The attendant would look up and leave me in the water, then I would climb out over the low roof.”
Peter fondly remembers his Dad saying the caretaker would always leave him with the words “Watch what you’re doing lad!”
So what came of John's dream of joining the navy? Well, son Peter revealed: "Funny after all of that effort, Dad joined the RAF!"
Peter and Sandra gave us permission to share these memories because in their words: "We know my father-in-law would be absolutely delighted with everything you are hoping to achieve".
On John's birthday - 26th October 2021 when he would have been 99 - we were able to pay him a very special tribute. Peter and Sandra joined FoOL - and Alistair Brownlee MBE - at the lido site for a news feature with BBC Look North. Peter was able to tell John's story to the viewers whilst Alistair was able to relive his own memories of visiting Otley lido.
Amanda and Paul Taylor - A Personal Recollection
From a personal perspective before my husband, Paul, and I were married I worked as a lifeguard at Roundhay Swimming Pool and my husband was a young houseman at Otley hospital.
Occasionally I would take a ‘busman’s holiday’ and we visited Otley Lido back in the late 60s. It was then that we met the late John Slater and his wife Marion. John, with his effortless powerful front crawl, was a Channel swimmer and a founding member of the British Long Distance Swimming Association - an organisation we have been members of for the last thirty-three years. To say we were impressed with John back then was an understatement, and also flattered because this king of distance swimming took an interest in us. John’s father, Fred, had a great reputation as a swim coach. He helped many wonderful swimmers like Barry Watson who held the world record for Channel Crossings between 1964 and 1977.
Otley Baths c.1930
"The new Otley lido...not only a pool then but a meeting place for the town all the year round."
Roundhay Park Pool
Golden Acre Park: The Blue Lagoon
Many Otley children learnt to swim there and at the swimming club which was famed for its annual river Wharfe swim. The Lido was not only a spawning ground for the great and the good of distance swimming, my parents soon joined us down at the pool and like for many others it became a regular family affair.
From a community perspective: Roundhay Pool where I once worked as a youngster - gone. The Golden Acre Pool - gone. Lister Park Lido, Bradford - gone. Otley Lido - gone but hopefully not forgotten, not if we want healthy and competent swimming youngsters.
There is only Ilkley Lido left where the public can enjoy the outdoors. And because it is the only open-air pool serving huge cities like Bradford and Leeds, on a lovely summer’s day you cannot see the water for bodies. Indeed on occasions they are forced to close their doors.
With all pools shut due to Covid, swimmers have taken to wild swimming. Sadly Yorkshire Water has been complaining of drownings in reservoirs. However what they have failed to acknowledge is the sewage they are allowing to be pumped out into our rivers and seas. After swimming for thirty years in the river Wharfe at Appletreewick, we can vouch for the increased seriousness of this problem. Paul and I fell ill after swimming there in late August of this year.
One of the wonderful services proposed for the new Otley Lido is that it will be heated throughout summer and winter. There will be a retractable roof, a restaurant with river terrace and a gym which will generate the revenue needed to support the Lido as a community facility. Not only a pool then but a meeting place for the town all the year round.
We are proud to be associated with this project.
Amanda and Paul Taylor
You can read the British Long Distance Swimming Association's 'A Tribute to John K Slater' here.