Wokingham Martins Pool above. “All Roads led to Martin’s Pool” The Art Deco Diving Stage Wokingham Times 10/09/92
Wokingham Martins Pool
Back in the 1920s Mr Martin opened his private pool to the public.
He realised even then, that Wokingham was desperately short of recreational facilities.
Wokingham Martins Pool caused the Wokingham people immense gratitude for evermore towards this kind considerate gentleman He looked on the swimmers and sunbathers as his big family.
For 11 years “Martins” won the award for best outdoor pool in England.
There were special cream teas available and you could bathe in water pure enough to drink. Beautiful flower gardens surrounded the lawns strewn about with deck chairs. The glistening fountains and even water lilies all added to the great spectacle of Martins Pool.
Whilst one sunbathed on the terraces or the lawns there was a little freedom for them as the children played in the sand pits or paddled and splashed about in their 2ft 6ins deep special pool. For the peckish there was morning coffee, light refreshments, ices and teas and all flavours of milk shakes To protect from the elements there was shelter, not only from wet windy weather, but…from air raids. The pool was camoflaged during the war.
It was a delightful place to spend a wonderful “away from it all” perfectly relaxing day with the family, or even on your own considering the plush pampering you would receive.
The swimming pool was 50 yards of azure blue, set in smooth lawns lined with poplars. In early times had an art deco style diving stage that spanned the pool – it could have been a perfect Hollywood film setting.
Mr Martin sadly fell into ill health and Wokingham Borough Council took on his pool and continued with Mr Martins good resolution for the Wokingham citizens. Before he let go, Mr Martin gave a good party for his family and friends. It was a priceless asset, a jewel to the town of Wokingham. Generations of parents have taken their children to the pool which was now under new management.
OUTCOME: the Pool was in use and hugely popular until 1992. The Council had decided that despite huge public outcry, with even Prince Philip and Denis Thatcher on their side, despite the popularity, Martins Pool was dubbed by the council “sub-standard” in size, inferior in quality in todays terms. It was only usable in the summer months and had inadequate parking. 1992 had seen the poorest attendance ever. It was decided that 1992 would be Martins Pool last summer.
Deputy Manager Jacky Duffy and staff staged events for people, to give good lasting memories of the pool. It was to be the saddest days of everyone’s life when Martins Pool closed the doors for ever.
The lovely Pool went on the market despite protests from the people who voted to save it. The “For Sale” notice went up – Wokingham District Council went ahead pushing plans for redevelopment. The battle was lost. Poppy Place was built.
Many many families enjoyed many many hours – including self! Did you?
Thanks to Glynis Ormsby also for helping me with this research 1999