Swimming


Trevor Monteith looks back fondly on growing up in Whitehead: ‘I had a very happy childhood … The town was buzzing for young people. … I got up in the morning and my mother hardly saw me till I came back in again at teatime.’ He had no watch, but every day at around 5.20pm the Ardrossan ferry passed Whitehead which indicated that it was time to go home for his tea.

The County Antrim Yacht Club in Whitehead was one of the main focal points for leisure. Another was the outdoor swimming pond or pool which was opened in 1931. ‘We all learned to swim in the pool … everybody went to the swimming pool’, remembers P. J. O’Donnell. It was, however, renowned for the coldness of the water. ‘It was freezing’, recollects Eithne McKendry.

Trevor Monteith recalls the swimming pool in Whitehead:


Any time we went in for a swim in the pool we never went straight into the pool – you … went up on to the diving boards and dived into the sea outside, swam there for five minutes or so and then came in … the pool always seemed a lot warmer than the Belfast Lough! It was terrific.

Brian McKenna recalls the popularity of the swimming pool, noting that the entrance fee was six old pence, while a season ticket cost 10 shillings. Frankie Dale also enjoyed swimming, though for him it was in Lough Neagh. ‘The lough was beautiful at that time’, he recalls. The man who taught him to swim was David Bailie, later to serve as a Presbyterian minister in India and Bangor, whom Frankie describes as ‘a great gentleman’.
South Antrim Living Memories Project wishes to acknowledge the assistance of: