Swimming Pools, Museums, Fetes and Carnivals
Bury Swimming Baths, The Playfields
The Playfields apocryphally were left to the town in perpetuity by a lady who wished to remain anonymous. Here were the town’s cricket ground and the Kings Road football ground of Bury Town F C. This Lido opened in 1931 and for many years Bury Corporation plumber Frank King was the superintendent at the baths and when on duty taught hundreds of children how to swim. An unheated outdoor swimming pool, it was well-used.
An example of the charges you were expected to pay in 1968 were, adults 1s 6d entrance, juveniles under fifteen, 6d. Hire of a towel and soap would cost you 9d and spectators would have to pay 6d. However, you could buy a season ticket for £1 15s, juveniles 15s. With the opening of the Bury Sports Centre in 1975 with its indoor pool the swimming baths were no longer used, and subsequently demolished.
The Manor House Museum
West Suffolk County Council purchased the Manor House, 1947 with St Edmundsbury Council acquiring it, 1988, to open as a museum in 1993. With a wonderful costume and art collection it also housed a superb timepiece collection given by celebrated cellist Gershom Parkington to the people of Bury St Edmunds in memory of his son John killed in WW2. Possibly never receiving enough promotion the museum disappointingly closed in 2006 to much opposition.
The Roundel Club, Bridewell Lane
The Roundel Association (RAF) was formed, 1944. Popular for socialising, the Roundel Club at Bury had a thriving concert club in its existence as well as cribbage and darts teams. However, as members aged it was no longer viable to continue, possibly because there was no outreach to expand membership. The club finished in the late 1990s. Its Grade II Dutch Gabled premises dated 1793 is now a private house called Bethany.
The Hardwick Fete courtesy of Hardwick Manor
Run by Bury St Edmunds Round Table, the Hardwick Fete was enjoyed by the town’s residents for many years. Opened by celebrities such as super model Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes) or pop star Tom Jones in 1965, it held popular events such as wellie throwing, obstacle races, bale pitching and vintage car displays. Donkey rides and a fun-fair were for children with the beer tent for the older generation! Modest entry fees benefitted local charities enormously.
The 1970 Carnival was well supported with 100 entries including 52 decorated floats watched by an estimated 12,000 people! Starting at the Out Risbygate Barracks it wound though the town until finishing on Angel Hill with the requisite Carnival Beauty Queen. Local companies supplied vehicles for the exotic floats which followed a set theme with fierce competition to win the best turned out. Alas, participation dwindled with the carnival of 2000 only attracting six entrants!
For a copy of Martyn Taylor’s book Lost Bury St Edmunds please ask at Waterstone’s or The Cathedral Bookshop, Bury St Edmunds