Swimming in the Fishlake

Before 1937, when Romsey was first provided with a swimming pool, the only way to swim in Romsey was in one of the rivers.

There was an official bathing place in the Fishlake, but this was for boys and men only.

The banks were maintained by Romsey Borough Council, who cleared the mud away from the area and hired a boat to cut away the weeds.

They also provided a shed where bathers could change decently.

From time to time this shed was vandalised and when found the perpetrators were prosecuted, including one lad who hoped to use some of the planks for a bonfire.

In 1928 Councillor Rowledge raised concerns that some bathers ‘came out of bounds without proper dress’ and said ‘it was disagreeable to people taking walks in that district’.

Councillor A.H. Mitchell replied that spot had been a bathing place for 50 years and added that they could not stop boys going beyond the boundary because there was a public footpath there.

He pointed out that at the seaside bathers had all manner of strangers crowded round them, ‘ladies and everyone else’. He wondered if Romsey was particularly puritanical.

He added that ‘in his younger days if a lad had a bathing costume on, they took it off him and threw it in the water’.

Stories have also been told of swimmers dancing about naked to enrage the Timsbury policeman and when he crossed the field to chastise them, they would dive into the water and swim away.