I miss this, St Augustines Swimming Pool, every time I buy a pork pie or a can of beans in the deep end of Spar I miss it. The cheap hot chocolate, the stinging eyes and the freezing water, those weird “no bombing, no petting…” signs.
A post war development, not perhaps the most attractive building by our strangely skewed modern standards, but not ugly either and beautiful by association for many Norwich and Norfolk residents whose childhoods were at least partly spent here splashing about, the high arched windows filled with bluey light at night were a vast reverse temporally dislocated improvement on the Spar shop, and the takeaways that ultimately killed what was left of St Augustine’s Street’s trade.
Opened in 1961, designed by David Percival. it was what a swimming pool should be, just that, a municipal one, cheap or free for swimming in, it did later have a cheap gym in it too. Demolished in the early noughties. we watched it being dismantled and feeling a bit sad that I’d never actually tried the high diving board because it was high and I don’t do high.
Previously it was St Augustines school, this time looking towards St Augustines gate, 27th/28th April 1942, first night of the Baedeker Raids, 500kg, Bang. Out of use. It was being used as a rest centre, then it wasn’t used for anything. Curiously there a surface shelter just to the right in the original photo, right in the middle of the path, I walk through it nearly every day, didn’t know it was there. You can see more of the rear of the school here.
From David Percival’s Grandson Richard (Via Flickr – I hope he doesn’t mind)
I write this sitting in an office in New York and decided to look up buildings my grandfather David had designed when city architect, sad to see another gone like his library that burnt down. Their modernist concrete style has gone rather out of fashion, and quality was not helped by the sheer scale of building reconstruction they had to do after the war and hence limited budgets however those soaring windows are rather beautiful. I think in time though some of it should also be preserved as it shows where the Country was in the mid 20th Century. He was also responsible for a lot of sympathetic restoration work on traditional Norwich structures such as the Castle and Elm Hill. I was lucky enough to live with him in Norwich for 6 months in 1984 when I was 5 at his home in the Cathedral Close and still have amazing memories of running to Pulls Ferry and the Cow Tower!