Many Andoverians will recognise this view of the London Road swimming pool which first opened on 3 June 1937.

The photograph was taken by Edith Howard of 74 High Street with the hand-colouring done by her excellent colourist Miss Elvie Cooper, who in 1949 acted as mayoress to the first woman mayor of Andover, Mrs Olive Harvey.

Opening day was a lavish, civic occasion which started at the Guildhall.

A march in procession to the new pool included the mayor and council, various officials, the municipal band, the Boys’ Brigade and a police escort.

At the pool itself, there was a huge gathering of townsfolk to listen to the speeches and presentations, which culminated in the official opening of the pool by the then mayoress, Mrs Shaw–Porter.

It was a project that had taken almost 12 years to bring to fruition against an opposition that baulked at the £2,700 building cost.

There was also debate about the choice of site before finally deciding on what was the western side of the Walled Meadow.

The London Street builders William Bell and Sons carried out the work and besides the pool itself, there was an up-to-date filtration plant that continuously cleansed the top water and could treat the whole pool every six hours.

The water level was at a depth of 3ft in the wide shallow end and 6ft in the deep end, although directly beneath the diving boards, the floor was sloped to reach 18ft.

However, in 1937 there was no heating apparatus and no plans to install any.

The new facility was a decided improvement on what had gone before.

It was in fact the third consecutive ‘pool’ in Andover but the first to be specifically designed for learning to swim and for hosting competitive swimming.

The first swimming bath was opened in June 1865, on a site fed by a multitude of rising springs that is now the Southern Water building on Anton Trading Estate.

In the days before the provision of a municipal water supply on tap, there was a need for a communal bath, mainly in order to provide a decent wash.

A first-class subscription was 5/- annually with use of the adjacent dressing shed, whereas 2/6d allowed general use of the bath without use of the dressing shed.

A penny ticket allowed a single use.

However, it was intended mainly for the youths of the town in order to promote good health through cleanliness - and certainly no women were permitted.

Up till then, the river Anton may have sufficed but there was no telling what might end up in the river in pre-sewerage system days, as well as the residue from the tan yard in Marlborough Street that could turn both the water and its occupants, orange.

I have already written about the baths in Beale’s Yard at the top of Adelaide Road, which were opened in 1885 (Andover Advertiser 6 August 2021) and superseded the former baths.

They were rebuilt in 1894 after a fire destroyed the whole building and appear to have remained active until the opening of the London Road pool in 1937.

There, the water was changed once a week with a cheaper rate on the final day as it turned a deeper shade of grey.

Each local pool had its day and the one at London Road was closed after the opening of the indoor pool at the Sports Centre on the Cricklade college complex in 1975.

The whole of the Walled Meadow was sold in 1982 and housing now occupies the entire site.