(DISCLAIMER: I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )
Hello everyone. Since Britain has enjoyed a heatwave, it seemed quite fitting to do a blog about an outdoor pool!
Okay, well not everyone has enjoyed the heatwave. I have though, just like I enjoyed the snowpocalypse. Neither sun nor snow will ruin my excellent life.
So here we are today!
Joining me on todays adventure is the legendary Brother Michael, who I initially reached out to in order to help with his mental health. When he was depressed and bored, I offered a distraction- come on adventures with me. I will show you how to enjoy life, even if at first you're just enjoying my life, with me.
It goes without saying that if you are suicidal or in danger due to mental health, get professional help. However, I am of the belief that we can all avoid getting to that stage completely if we're just nice to each other, and there for people when they need help. Every time a suicide is reported in the news, countless people make comments along the lines of "If only someone was there for them." Well there's still a few billion humans to be there for.
I'm no expert in mental health, but I do know how I make my own life enjoyable, and while I don't have answers to everyones problems, I will do what I can so that I'm at least doing something. so I dragged Brother Michael on numerous goddamn adventures, and this lido is just the most recent.
In regards to mental health, it's a huge priority for me, and I'm pondering ways I can do more work in that area, in a similar fashion to how I gave my hair to become a wig for a cancer patient last year.
In regards to my own mental health, a lot of people checked up on me after last blog post when I mentioned that I had a stalker, an urban explorer in Telford, so thanks. In all honesty, just breaking the silence on it did loads to help me out, but really I find the situation more oddly funny than problematic, but thanks anyway.
Now let's check out this outdoor pool!
The pool appears to have once been part of the now-nonexistant Swancote Country Club, but curiously the main entrance to it is a doorway at the far side of the club house, meaning that anyone walking here from the club house would have to walk all the way around. This entrance does, however, lead onto a carpark. The gate leads to this high walled passage that warns us that alcohol is banned in the pool area.
There's also a carpark sign on the grass.
So here's the actual pool, or "Lido" as the official term seems to be. It wasn't a word I was at all familiar with before looking into this one, but apparently the word derives from the Italian word for "beach" and is believed to have found its way into English language when English visitors returned from the Italian seaside town, Lido di Venezia, where sea-bathing became a hit in the 19th Century. In English, the term "Lido" fell into official use for outdoor swimming pools in 1935 when The Edmonton Lido opened in Edmonton. The term Lido was then added to the names of various other outdoor pools, which were all the rage in the 1930s and popping up all over the place.
I'm not sure when Swancote Country Club opened their outdoor swimming pool, but people seem to have fond memories dating back to the 1950s, where they mention parties and other gatherings.
I did manage to hunt down a vintage photo of it, but the date is not specified, and as you can see, nothing much has changed.
Swancote Country Club did offer, in addition to its outdoor swimming pool, a gym, a sauna, a bar, and a restaurant, as well as making an excellent venue for weddings, birthday parties and other events. Apparently it also had weekly theme nights which were a hit with people across the midlands.
Someone online who attended events here in the 1980s and 1990s
described it as "Pool parties with all the alcoholic, narcotic and
sexual excess indulgence money could buy."
Another person who was familiar with the area from 1999 to 2004 says one is better off asking what didn't go on here.
Doesn't that sound great? And to think, it looks like an innocent family pool, but by night it became the land of debauchery.
Dotted around the pool are notices telling people what they're not allowed to do. It's a fairly simplistic, and predictable. There's a rule against running, because if someone slips and whacks their head on the floor or edge of the pool, they might die. And of course, there's a rule against bombing, just in case there are any terrorists visiting the pool. It's about time someone put a sign up outlawing terrorists. Now nobody will die from a terrorist attack.
I jest. Bombing in swimming pool lingo means jumping into the pool, but unlike diving, which is graceful and fluid, the purpose of bombing is to make the loudest, and most gigantic splash possible.
So what's in this building?
It's a huge boiler!
Over here are the changing rooms.
The entrances to the changing rooms have showers in the doorway, but they're pretty filthy.
The changing rooms look pretty grim.
But check this out! The urinals have an ass-washing facility so the men can clean their butts while they wee.
No seriously, who had the bright idea of having the urinal and sink this close together? There's no way anyone can wash their hands if someone is using the urinal.Who honestly looked at this and thought "That will do"?
These toilets are still in better condition than the toilets in some pubs and clubs.
The girls changing area had a garden growing in it. In a few years it might be completely taken over by nature, which would be fantastic to see.
Also present was a little shop that sold refreshments, which still had its ice cream flag hanging.
Actually, for something reasonably unique like an abandoned swimming pool, it's surprisingly unvandalised. There's no graffiti, or litter, or squatters.
The drinks fridge is still here.
"Cote Swan Shop Pool." This hatch would have opened up, and read out "Swancote Pool Shop" to anyone outside. I do like the little swan drawn on the letter S.
Sunlight has faded the font on this leaflet, which boasts that the swimming pool is open seven days a week from 10am til 6pm, with fairly reasonable admission fees, plenty of room for ball games, sunbathing, a baby pool, and refreshments available all day.
"What more could you want for a fun family day out or just a chill with friends?"
Hmm... well the leaflet makes it sound so whimsical. If only I hadn't been told of the orgies that once took place here.
These price tags imply that people had to pay to use inflatables at the swimming pool, which seems a little harsh since people would have already paid up to £5 to get in. If you want a float, that's an additional £4, and an inflatable dolphin is £10. The sun cream I totally understand, but not the inflatables. I mean, presumably they'd be given back at the end of the session.
I'm not really sure what this building was for. Storage, maybe? It wasn't actually present in the vintage photo that I found, which means it was a more modern construct.
I was curious at first about what caused this place to end up like it is, but this curiosity didn't last long, because the drama and scandal is documented all over the internet.
In 2011 Swancote Country Club fell on hard times. Business had slumped, and they simply weren't making the money that they once did. It closed its restaurant, cut its bar opening hours, and had many of its staff subjected to the horrors of the job centre in the following weeks. Allegedly the running costs were causing the club to run at a loss, and it was not worth it. The restaurant had actually been rented out by someone in 2010 but they simply weren't bringing in the customers.
Perhaps these money problems are what led to what happened next...
Here's the "baby pool." It has a few chairs in it.
The final nail in the coffin for Swancote Country Club came after a series of police raids in 2011 and 2012. The initial raids found that the club was selling counterfeit clothes, jewelry and drugs, finding that some areas of the building were being used to grow cannabis. The police also allegedly seized a number of stolen vehicles, but given that the media coverage of the vehicles was vague and limited to one sentence, choosing instead to focus on counterfeit clothing, I think it may have been the media adding a little extra drama in case counterfeit clothing wasn't regarded as a big deal by the readers, but that's just my take on it, I could be wrong, I've just learned to read between the lines whenever the media says anything.
Later, in 2012, another police raid uncovered a secret wall behind the bar, which led to a trap door to a hidden underground cannabis farm estimated to have a value of up to £95,000, although some sources say £80,000. The owner was allegedly jailed for two and a half years, although he pinned the blame on other people and completely denied knowledge of everything, which might have sounded plausible if not for the fact that "everything" included having his drive way dug up to lay down a cable to power the farm... It's pretty hard for a property owner to not notice something like that.
Apparently the secret wall had shelves, with fake objects glued to it to give the impression of authenticity, an' frankly it sounds incredible! I personally love the entire concept of secret doorways. One of my favourite finds since doing this blog was all the way back in 2015 when I found a secret bookcase door in Brogyntyn Hall. Pitchford Hall also had a door at the back of a cupboard, and even in Shrewsbury, the old Natwest building on Castle Street had a secret attic entrance at the back of a wardrobe. I love stuff like this!
In regards to cannabis, it's not for me.
But like gay sex, and urban exploring, I think if it's done by consenting adults and completely victimless, then it's only really a problem for people who just dont know how to mind their own business. Live and let live, I say. If you can grow a plant, and a consenting adult then gives you money for that plant, I don't see an issue.
The phrase "Rules are made to be broken" springs to mind, but I think that's a little trite. I would offer a re-phrasing of it.
Rules are to be questioned. It's the blind obedience of the rules that leads to historic attrocities, and the holocaust makes an excellent example, albeit an extreme one, of what can happen when people don't question the law. Laws need to exist to keep people safe. Murder is illegal. Rape is illegal. These are understandable, because they are laws that protect people. When a law doesn't protect anyone, and simply exists for the sake of existing, and the only people breaking that law are just trying to be happy at nobodies expense, then that is when the law needs to be questioned.
I'd rather see the police go after real crimes like rape, and murder, and manspreading, rather than coming down on someone who just wants to relax with a plant.
But that's just my opinion. Live and let live, I say.
However, following the drug raid, Swancote Country Club had its license revoked and is not likely to ever get it back. There was still activity at the nearby club building, but the pool itself has been left to nature. Weeds and grass have grown between the floor tiles, and the water in the pool probably came from the sky over the last six years.
And that's it for Swancote Outdoor Swimming Pool. It's a relic from a bygone era that is unlikely to make a return. There may be some local clamour to save places like this, but no commercial viability. But outdoor pools do have a certain vibe to them. This place would have once been full of people having fun and enjoying their summer. But no bombing, no acrobatics, and absolutely no running, but growing £95,000 worth of the devils lettuce? Totally fine.
Next blog post will be about rooftopping in Shrewsbury, and then I think we're off to Ludlow. Until then, follow my Instagram, like my Facebook page, subscribe to my Youtube- a new video will be going up in a few weeks, and follow my Twitter.
Thanks for reading!