Next to Bellingham Railway Station on Randlesdown Road where it bridges over the railway line on the edge of the Bellingham Council Estate in South London where Tony Sargeant grew up. There was a hall attached to the Pub (down the steps which are of shot on the extreme left) in which Tony Sargeant’s parents held their wedding reception in February 1941 – His Paternal grandparents were killed a few months later on the last night of the London Blitz when a German bomb flattened their house in Broadmead Road. Later the hall was to achieve some fame as the training venue of the boxer Henry Cooper. Tony remembers seeing Henry and his brother, who lived on the estate, running around the estate together as part of their training in the 1950s.
Judging by the costumes, and knowing the history of the Bellingham Council Estate in South London, Anthony J Sargeant thinks this photograph was probably taken in the 1920-30s. Surprisingly the pool was still much the same as shown here when Tony worked as a lifeguard at the pool in the early 1960’s, but it has long since been closed. In the British climate it was only open from May to September and the upkeep must have been astronomical. In the British Summer there were many days when only one or two people would swim but still the pool was staffed with a minimum of 12 people (two 6 hour shifts of six people 8 am to 2 pm then 2 pm to 8 pm).
Anthony Sargeant (in his mis-spent youth years) worked as a lifeguard at Bellingham Swimming Pool in the summers of 1963 and 1965. Here his shift partner Ken (who was a lovely young man) is seen with two of the regular young girls from Catford County Girls School who spent a lot of time at the pool. They are wearing parkas of the kind that were favoured by ‘mods’ on their scooters.
The Map shows the Bellingham Council Estate as it was in the 1930s at which time the parents of Anthony Sargeant were rehoused there with their parents and siblings from Peckham and Bermondsey. The Secondary School on the very southern edge of the Estate was not built until the 1950s when Sedgehill Comprehensive School opened its doors. The Estate was started in the 1920s as part of the LCC initiative to rehouse people from sub-standard housing in Bermondsey and Camberwell. It was part of the ‘Homes fit for Heroes’ initiative after the First World War. The hub of the estate was The Green with the two churches facing one another – Bellingham Congregational Church on the left and The Church of England Parish Church of St Dunstan on the right. Notable on the map is the Orphanage towards the south of the estate which is designated ‘Waifs and Strays Home’.
There were two elementary schools, after the 1944 Education Act they became primary schools with infants and junior schools. When Tony Sargeant attended Elfrida School in the 1950s there were separate boys and girls junior schools.