Monday, 13 February 2017

In at the deep end, Ramsgate marina bathing pool pictures and some thoughts.

Here are a few photos of the old swimming pool that have come my way over the years.

Well yesterday I managed to put the wrong construction decade in the answer to a comment on facebook

The big question surrounding the pool is, why did it close? Personally I think this is mostly a temperature related thing, and base this on having been in it, I would say swum swam wosisname, however my series of doggy paddle, floating and whatnot is probably best described as delayed drowning, but the main problem there is the water was very cold.

Perhaps not an issue back in the 1930s when the pool first opened as I think heated public swimming pools started to appear in the UK just before WW2, but didn’t really become common until the 1960s. I think the same can be said for heaters in cars, the first cars I could afford dated from the 1940s and 50s and mostly didn’t have heaters, meaning you and the windscreen froze while right next to you was a radiator full of boiling water.

And while yes you can heat outdoor swimming pools, I think those like the Ramsgate one that used constantly changing filtered seawater to keep the contents clean enough to swim in would be prohibitively expensive to heat.  

Of course there are plenty of people who would pay to swim in an unheated seawater swimming pool next to the sea, we used to when we were children, but I think the main reason for the closure was that there just weren’t enough of them in 1976 when the repair bill was fairly large and it closed for good.

I think another aspect was the closure of the high diving board, which was one of the pool’s main attractions, so there is a safety elf element.

Then there are the rumours.

Some say it was a council blunder that damaged Ramsgate marina swimming pool so badly it could never be used again. The story goes that some bright council officer decided to take the running of it from the borough engineers and give it to the councils leisure department. The sceptical engineers handed it to the leisure department with a set of instructions about running and maintaining it, one of which was never to empty it without supporting the seaward facing side. This was because it was designed so the weight of the water inside counteracted the forces of the sea battering against it. The first thing the leisure department did when they took it over was to empty it unsupported. In the resulting cover up councillors were told that the damage was caused bomb during WW2 that had weakened the structure.

Some say the problem was the old design of the building and that the pool was actually on 'stilts' and you could walk underneath it at low tide. As the tide came in the void was filled with seawater. The dated building measures made this a fatal design fault. Gradually the chalk below began to erode, and as a result the foundations moved, causing the pool to crack. This was patched for years until repairs were impossible. It was also too expensive to replace.

Some say that the chalk at sea edge was excavated deliberately and that the council failed to stop this.

There is plenty of information on the internet about Ramsgate Marina Bathing Pool. 

A good article on the Lost Lidos site at

I think Ramsgate Historical Society Facebook group has the best article and album of photos at

Some different pictures at Seas Photography

Here are the books that went out in the bookshop today

1 comment:

  1. Learned to swim in the Marina pool in the mid 1960s - Monday night swimming club. Very popular, Dad queued a good while to get membership for me. Boy was it cold, as even on a sunny day the sun was down behind the main building by the evening start.
    Also recall 'officiating/crowd control' there as a scout when 'It's a Knockout' came to Thanet.


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