Morecambe's Super Swimming Stadium

Ginny Marshall remembers the 1960s when thousands of tourists and locals used to flock to the beaches of Morecambe to spend their summer holidays frolicking in the sea and sun. Ginny was a lifeguard at the Super Swimming Stadium, next door to the Midland Hotel, on the promenade.

We used to have on a Wednesday afternoon Miss Great Britain competitions…they used to start queuing at about 11 o’clock and at one o’clock we used to open three turnstiles and there’d be three long queues… at the end of the season it would culminate in being the actual competition where Miss Great Britain would be crowned…I have memories of Englebert Humperdinck floating down the Morecambe Swimming Stadium on a four-poster bed being filmed for Irish television so obviously that was an amazing day.

Eric and Ernie, Mike and Bernie Winters, Frank Ifield and Tommy Steele came to judge at the Miss Great Britain competitions. Local families would buy a season ticket and visited the pool as often as they liked.

 

Listen to full interview

 

Miss Great Britain – 1960s (Lancashire Archives MBMO-HE acc 6743 box 1)

Miss Great Britain – 1960s (Lancashire Archives MBMO-HE acc 6743 box 1)

Miss Great Britain – 1960s (Lancashire Archives MBMO-HE acc 6743 box 1)

Comments about this page

  • Hi Michael – how great to hear you story. We love your fact about the female lifeguards being persuaded to make up the numbers in the Miss GB contest 🙂 So many still hold the SSS in their hearts. Thanks for sharing your story. Michelle @MBP

    By Michelle Cooper (02/02/2021)
  • I spent most of my youth in the SSS. My first season ticket was 10 shillings, that got stamped every time you went in (I managed to fill them most years) rising to £1 in the last years. The SSS manager was Glyn Smith in the 60s 70s, and his secretary was Ms Barker. Obviously the staffing there was very seasonal, but many returned year after year. If the regional Miss GB contest was a bit short of numbers the lady lifeguards we’re cajoled into participating. The highlight of the day was the 2 daily shows featuring the Aqua Loonys diving off the high boards. Great structure unfortunately gone for ever.

    By Michael (Pugs) Birchall. (15/01/2021)
  • I loved the Super Swimming Stadium and always managed to persuade my mum to buy me a summer season ticket. I think that in 1968/69 they cost about 30 shillings, but I certainly went for the record number of entry stamps in my small pass booklet.
    The weather always seemed to be sunny and our little gang, who had conquered the diving boards, spent many hours on the sunroof.
    I was in Oliver at the Alhambra in 1970, which I remember had a major fire, I think the same day as the Moby Dick,was devastated by fire.
    The Swimming pool and memories will last forever and was a great part of my childhood, before moving to Manchester in 1971.
    Chris May

    By Chris May (10/03/2020)
  • So wonderful to hear your story. You’ve painted such a vivid picture. And how amazing to have actually helped out during the filming of the Entertainer. What a treat to read – thanks for sharing! We’d love to hear more 🙂 MBP

    By Michelle Cooper (29/01/2020)
  • The summer of ’59.

    It should’ve gone forever — so hot that Morecambe was over- crowded, and Bob Battersby’s Town Hall Publicity Department staff toured the West End’s residential streets in a van with a loudspeaker mounted on its roof, literally crying out for householders to take in visitors.

    It was also so hot that the tarmac melted in the paving joints of the sunbathing patios of the Super Swimming Stadium, and I wrecked at least two towels with the sticky black stuff.

    1959: the summer of ‘The Entertainer’, the filming of John Osborne’s masterpiece at the then Alhambra and at the Super Swimming Stadium. I remember it well; the movie cameras used to have a gate which clipped off the film at the end of a take, and celluloid curls would drop into the pool and drift, eventually, to the bottom. Director Tony Richardson was meticulous about keeping the place clean, and so youngsters such as myself were paid threepence for diving to the bottom of the pool and retrieving the cut-offs. I found it an easier labour than previous summers spent pulling a home-made luggage cart from Morecambe Promenade station to West End Road (most often), carrying the suitcases of newly arrived holidaymakers to their “private hotels”.

    I spent most of my days at “the baths”, as it was referred to, winning my ‘Blue Seagull’ certificate for swimming a length non-stop, diving off the top board after being inspired by the Aqua Loonies, and earning money from the “film work”.

    By coincidence, years and years later, in a place far from Morecambe, “The Entertainer” producer Harry Saltzman and I encountered each other at Pinewood Studios, where Harry and co-producer Cubby Broccoli were not only making movies but making history with the James Bond 007 series. I told Harry he owed me at least two bob, unpaid since 1959. Being a Canadian, however, he said he’d never understood British currency. Yeah, right.
    ‘The Baths’ came to figure more often in my later years than I could ever have anticipated: having left Morecambe for the south of England and a career in journalism, I returned in 1968 and joined ‘The Visitor’, reporting on the Miss Great Britain heats and eventually, the finals, along with two unforgettable photographers: Tony North and Frank Bastow.

    Later still, as a Sunday Mirror staff journalist, I came back up north from what was then Fleet Street to interview Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise at The Midland Hotel, where they were over-nighting when making their (belated) appearance on the Miss Great Britain judging panel.

    It’s all so long ago now, and yet for this particular Sand Grown ‘Un (born Queen Victoria Hospital, Morecambe, July 1946) the memories are as vivid as ever.

    Best wishes, then, for this ‘Recording Morecambe Bay’ project (which I’ve stumbled across by accident on the Internet). Should any further memories be of use, I’d be happy to provide ’em — especially of the Midland, which my wife and I know better than most and where, more than half a century ago now, we were the couple of kids in the cocktails lounge treated with such welcome by the legendary John the Barman that we developed a taste for the good life of the best hotels ever after.

    ‘S funny, where some folks get to in this wide world from a once-upon-a-time-in a small Lancashire seaside resort. . .

    By Howard Reynolds (16/12/2019)
  • Great to hear your memories Roger. So many people have a connection to the Super Swimming Stadium but it is especially nice to hear from those who worked there and helped keep the place running. Maintenance work in winter sounds like a chilly job! Thanks for sharing. MBP.

    By Michelle Cooper (08/04/2019)
  • I too was an employee of Morecambe and
    Heysham Corporation working at The Super
    Swimming Stadium.I remember working there
    1966-1970.We were involved in and carried out
    maintenance work in the Winter and during the
    Summer we became lifegaurds.
    A great life for a young man. And Morecambe had
    plenty to offer in those days.

    By Roger Hartley (27/03/2019)

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