IT IS without doubt one of Southampton’s greatest assets that has been been enjoyed by local people for decades.

Southampton Common with its woodland, grassy areas, fishing lake and meandering paths are not only favourite spots for Sotonians but the parkland also supports a large variety of wildlife.

But during a hot summer Bank Holiday Weekend there has been no more popular place in the city to cool down over the years that the paddling pool at the Common.

For decades children and their parents have spent hours whiling away a warm summer’s day in their trunks and swimsuits, ice cream in hand. splashing away in the pool.

As these photos from the Daily Echo archive show, that during the Sixties, Seventies and early Eighties show that a day at the Common pool was one of the highlights of those long summer holidays.

And why shouldn’t it be as Southampton Common is owned by the people of the city, although its trustees are the local authority.

It has been common land since the authorities bought it in response to a dispute over land rights in the 13th century.

It became a public park in 1844.

The designation as common land allowed neighbours to use the land for fuel, clay, and taking berries and other wild, natural food.

The most important use was for grazing, however, and there was a cowherd paid to be responsible for the cattle on the Common.

He was provided with accommodation in an inn on the site of what is today’s Cowherds pub.

The Southampton Corporation Acts of 1910, 1931 and 1971 detail the by-laws that govern public use of the Common.

They include restrictions on vehicle use and limit closures for events to 50 acres and for no more than 60 days in any year.

The 370-acre Common was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1987 in recognition of its national nature conservation importance and large population of the endangered great crested newt. It required that the council must cease any operations likely to damage the special interest.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 made it a statutory requirement for the whole of the Common to be maintained to improve biodiversity.