builder and ronEARLY memories of the Waterside Pool on Ryde’s seafront will form part of a documentary and exhibition to mark the pool’s 40th anniversary on August 24.

One man with particularly significant memories of that time is retired builder Mr Keith Edmunds of George Street, Ryde, who worked on the construction of the original pool during the summer of 1973.

Mr Edmunds described the months of hard work that went into turning what he called “a big hole in the ground” into one of Ryde’s major leisure facilities.  “I remember it being hard work during the hot summer weather,” he said.  “But looking at the pool now all those years later it feels me with a sense of pride.”

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Mr Edmunds, 71, who was employed by the main contractor, Walcon Ltd, said the last part of the work involved the fascia boards which now surround the open area outside the pool itself.  Originally the old paddling pool area this has now been fitted with decking to make it more visually attractive and safe for pool members to use in a variety of ways.

The work currently under way to improve the pool follows in the footsteps of  that undertaken by people like Mr Edmunds, whose efforts were rewarded when the original pool was opened on August 24, 1973, by Alderman R. V. Bourn, Mayor of Ryde.

It is this event which is being commemorated in a special exhibition featuring historic photographs of the area dating back to the early part of the last century along with the documentary filmed by mature IW College film and television production student Richard Titley.

Fascinating photographs showing the Esplanade and the area where the pool now stands will feature in the exhibition, courtesy of Historic Ryde Society. The photographs span a century, from the Edwardian era onwards, showing the canoe lake area before the pool was built.

And the pool that Mr Edmunds helped to build has itself evolved in a number of ways over the years, the next major milestone being the construction of a roof by Medina Borough Council in 1995, transforming it into an all-weather facility.

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However, some 16 years later the pool faced closure by the IW Council. But backed by enormous public support, it is now run by the Waterside Community Trust, which currently has a number of improvements under way.

With decking to the outside area and plans for outdoor exercise equipment and poolside sauna, the new-look Waterside is a far cry from the hole in the ground that Keith Edmunds remembers.

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