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Swimming at Bottomboat

SWIMMING AT ROTTOMBOAT IN THE 1920's

One could almost go on forever about past years, but I must make a reference to the pleasure we got as young boys and men in the 1920's and 1930's swimming in the River Calder and the Gringlesworth.

Now the Gringlesworth was a extensive lake of water in those days. It would cover at least 10 acres. It was shallow at the edge nearest the river and at no point was it more than 5 to 6 feet in depth. The water was clean, so much so that it was inhabited by fresh water fish including pike. It was an ideal place for swimming reasonably safe; I never knew of anyone drowned in this lake. It was a wonderful nature reserve - water hens and other water fowl made it their habitat.

Most boys in Bottomboat could swim at the age of 12 years. We were self taught in most cases. Occasionally one of our elders would give a word of advice, but even our elders, although having more experience, were self-taught.

After a sort of apprenticeship in the reasonably safe waters of the Gringlesworth, we would be more adventurous and swim in the River Calder which was only 40 yards away. We would swim upstream until we tired, and then swim back to our starting point downstream. On a good sunny day in the summer, we would challenge each other as to who could swim the longer distance. Most of us could swim up to the Staithes and back which would be a swim of at least one mile. The Staithes was a loading place for coal into barges. At that point it was ten feet deep - an ideal depth for would-be divers. The more adventurous boys and men dived from the top of the Staithes - a height of at least twenty feet.

Now the Newmarket Colliery filled this wonderful lake up by depositing colliery waste into it so another place of our pleasures disappeared under 40 to 50 feet of colliery dirt.

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