Historian uncovers story of Stamshaw Swimming Pond

A very early, rare postcard of the pond, judging by the clothes, taken before the First World War, perhaps in 1912.  The rescue boat is on the right.  The street in the background could be Strode or Gruneisen (picture courtesy of Maggie Ballard)

A very early, rare postcard of the pond, judging by the clothes, taken before the First World War, perhaps in 1912. The rescue boat is on the right. The street in the background could be Strode or Gruneisen (picture courtesy of Maggie Ballard)

A magnificent photograph looking south over Portsbridge with the Hilsea arches in the background. 		                   Picture: Barry Cox Collection

Where there’s a wheel there’s a way – straight down Portsmouth tramlines

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Back in January I published a small photograph of the foreshore at Stamshaw, Portsmouth, between the wars.

Whale Island could just be made out in the background, but it was a wistful-looking dog which caught the attention of historian Jane Smith.

The Stamshaw Swimming Pond seawater storage tower.  There are very few illustrations of this feature. This shot probably dates from 1922-1940

The Stamshaw Swimming Pond seawater storage tower. There are very few illustrations of this feature. This shot probably dates from 1922-1940

She specialises in the history of the north of Portsea Island and she decided to try to find out exactly where the picture was taken.

During her research she discovered that this year is the centenary of the opening of Stamshaw Swimming Pond on May 1, 1912.

Jane says: ‘Its history has never been explored in depth before and Stamshaw does tend to be the forgotten corner of Portsea Island.

‘It bore the brunt of the M275 construction yet there is still a strong, thriving community tucked away there.

‘The pond itself was superseded by Hilsea Lido when it opened in 1935 and was eventually demolished. Stamshaw Park replaced it, which today is an excellent amenity for local children.’

Jane has calculated where the original picture was taken from, which is marked on the map here by an oval red line. The railings on the right hand side are of the pond.

She adds: ‘They were put up in 1922, so that puts the date of the shot somewhere between 1922 and 1930.’

She has tracked down the two remaining original features of the pond site, the engine house and the sea wall.

At a meeting on April 12, 1912, of the corporations Sub-Parks and Open Spaces (Ground North of the Railway) Committee it was resolved that:

· The bath be opened on May 1, 1912, and closed on the last day of September.

· That the hours of bathing be from 6am until one hour after sunset for weekdays and from 6am until 11am on Sundays.

· That bathing costumes be compulsory and such costumes to comply with the regulations of the Beach Committee.

· That it be left to the chairman to select a woman attendant for the dressing boxes at 12 shillings per week, later amended to 15 shillings per week

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