Established in 1919 in a flooded limestone quarry, Henleaze Swimming Club was absolutely of its time. Sited in the middle of a newly developing, affluent suburb of Bristol, this open-air swimming club was considered progressive because it was open to women members from the start. The club was, in part, a response to the public appetite for relaxation and entertainment after the horrors and deprivations of the war years. Against a backdrop of industrial unrest and economic hardship, it encouraged sporting competition and put on events that attracted hundreds of spectators. It also promoted the practice of life-saving and the teaching of swimming. Having gone through many difficult patches in previous decades, the club is now thriving. Just a few miles from the city centre, the lake is a green oasis, enjoyed by swimmers, anglers and wildlife alike.
In The Lake, Susie Parr (author of the award-winning The Story of Swimming) explores the social influences that shaped this remarkable institution. She traces its struggles and successes decade by decade, relating these to the social and political context of the time. The book ends with an account of club activities and events in its one-hundredth year; these include early morning swims, winter swimmers dipping in an ice hole, and swifts drinking at the lake. This final chapter also features photographs by club members and by the acclaimed photographer (and non-swimmer) Martin Parr.
The Lake is available from the Lake and costs £20. We can also post copies for an additional cost of £5.00 p&p. Please order postal copies via the Contact page to do this.
The Lake is also available online from the Martin Parr Foundation
Please support the club by buying a copy of this beautiful, celebratory book.