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Summer fun brings back poetic memories of lido's early days

A handwritten poem dating back to 1930 about Aldershot Lido has been dug out by the poet's daughter

 

The heatwave, which now feels like an age ago, fortunately coincided with Aldershot Lido opening daily last month, brought many hurrying to the pool to take advantage of it while they can.

But while some live in the moment, others are reflecting on their memories of visiting the lido in summers gone by.

A poem handwritten more than 80 years ago by an Aldershot resident’s mother is helping her do just this, as she hopes more memories are made in what could be the final year of the lido in its present form.

The poem was penned in approximately 1930 by Edna May Anderson, known as Hazel, and is about her experience of visiting the pool as a schoolgirl after it opened that year.

Hazel lived in Windmill Hill as a child, when the road was called Drury Lane.

After leaving school she went into service as a nanny to an army captain and ended up marrying his batman Wilf – a soldier assigned to him as a personal assistant – in 1939.

They lived in Holly Road, and Wilf fought in the Second World War. They had five children.

Hazel worked in Burton, in the late 1950s, and for more than 20 years in the field stores, where supplies for the army were received via the railway line, until she retired in 1978.

Wilf died in 1977 and Hazel in 2003, aged 84.

Hazel played darts in The Cricketers ladies darts league, based at the Tongham pub, right up until the end of her life, and a trophy created in her name is still contended for every year.

Poetry was a hobby throughout her life, and Hazel wrote several more, including one about her fond memories of her hometown, entitled This Aldershot, in 1970, and another called Goodbye Old Friend about the Field Stores where she worked.

Hazel’s daughter Ann Grayson, 68, who lives in Aldershot, said her mother’s poetry made her feel nostalgic and proud of where she lives. She said the final two lines of the lido poem were her favourites.

“I like those two lines because they reflected the joy and excitement that the opening of the lido brought along with the promise of many years of fun and happiness in the future,” she said.

“When mum died we typed them all up so we could send them to family all over the world.”

Aldershot Lido is the subject of plans to replace the outdoor pool with a shallow splash pad, or possibly add further attractions such as a minigolf course, jacuzzi or a roof.

During a public consultation the majority of respondents favoured either retaining the lido or building the splash pad.

It was agreed by council cabinet members in June that a business case will be worked on over the summer to determine how much it would cost to put a number of the suggestions into practice and it is hoped that any redevelopment work could take place in time for the opening of the lido next year.

It means that this could be the last summer when families can use the outdoor pool and create their own memories that will live on through conversations, photographs and maybe even new poetry.

Edna May Anderson, known as Hazel, writing as a 20-year-old
Edna May Anderson, known as Hazel, writing as a 20-year-old. The Aldershot resident wrote a poem about the lido in around 1930 after it opened
 

The Lido

The teacher said, “Listen closely, to what I have to say
They’ve built a lovely bathing pool where you can swim and play.
Once a week from school you’ll go there and learn just how to swim
Not only the clever ones, but you who are so dim!”
Oh those wondrous summer days when we marched along the road
Clutching towel and sandwiches, laughing at the load.
I can hear the voices still – sharp, echoing against the water;
As we laughed and did those things what teacher said we oughta!
The water warm to young ones, the sky was high and blue
Yes, the sun poured down upon us if we were lucky too.
The finest lido in the south it became that day,
Now I take grandchildren there and listen to music play.
The ripples of the laughter are gay as ever still
While our pool is with us, echo laughs it always will.

 

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