Contest at Scarborough’s Open Air Pool

Local contest at Scarborough's Open Air Pool
Local contest at Scarborough's Open Air Pool

Written by Jeannie Swales

Those were the days. The quality of the photograph, the fact that it’s in black and white, and those hairstyles, suggest that this picture of a sextet of budding Charles Atlases was taken in the late 50s or early 60s.

Scarborough’s South Bay pool at one time was the largest in Europe.

Older locals will also immediately recognise the venue - Scarborough’s open air pool, which used to stand in the South Bay, just beyond the Spa.

This glorious Art Deco lido was built and opened during the First World War – building work started in 1914, and the pool opened in 1915.

It was at one time the largest outdoor pool in Europe, measuring 330ft long and 167ft wide, and was fed by fresh sea water from the South Bay.

It was still in regular use during the latter half of the 20th century, finally closing completely in 1989.

It’s hard now to imagine just how popular and busy it was –but take a look at this charming little film clip on the wonderful British Pathé website for a feel of how it looked in 1921:

Our six muscled heroes are pictured against the steps which led up to the tall fixed diving platform – presumably they were taking part in some sort of local ‘beefcake’ competition. If you are amongst them - or know who they are - let us know!

You can see archive photographs of many of Scarborough’s past glories, including this one, in the next exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery. Seaside Snaps, which opens a week on Saturday and runs until late June, features photographs from the Scarborough Collections dating back as far as the 1860s.

The photographs will be accompanied by comments from the public which have been collected via a social media campaign.

The Scarborough Collections is the name given to all the museum objects and artwork acquired by the borough over the years, and now in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust.

For further information, please contact Collections Manager Jennifer Dunne on or (01723) 384510.

Seaside Snaps is at Scarborough Art Gallery from March 28 until June 21. Entry to the exhibition is £3, which then includes entry fee to both Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda Museum for a year.

Both are open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm, plus bank holidays. For further information, please contact (01723) 374753.