Being strongly allergic to chlorine, I hated this place when I was a Spalding Grammar School pupil in the 1950s, because I was forced to go for weekly swimming lessons every spring.. I spent miserable hours with eyes streaming, and shivering with cold in spite of the fact the water was supposed to be heated. But there was a family connection…
Next to the swimming pool was Spalding’s original water tower, built long before the Chatterton Tower was even thought of. I saw the old tower demolished when I was a trainee reporter on the Lincolnshire Free Press in 1958 or 59, and I joked that it was my ancestral home being pulled down. The fact was that my great grandfather Stimson had been resident engineer at the tower and its surrounding water works round about the turn of the century. Two gas engines pumped water to the top during the day, but were shut down in the evening and re-started in the morning. That was unless there was a fire in the town, in which case one of the engines had to be started to maintain water pressure for the fire brigade.
Now, great grandad liked his pint, or two, or three, and was invariably to be found in the Mailcart pub until closing time, from where he refused to be moved. So it was great grandma who had to manually spin one of the big flywheels to get one of the engines started, and thereby boost the pressure.
The swimming pool, I was told by my mother, was built out of a big filter bed which originally filtered the town’s water supply.
Oh, and at the age of 75 I still can’t swim………….