BARBARA Bunyan was one of many who enjoyed a cool dip at Dame’s Delight in the summer after a hard day’s work.

Our story about the swimming pool on the south-east corner of the University Parks in Oxford (Memory Lane, June 30) reminded her of the happy times she spent there.

Mrs Bunyan, of Jack Straw’s Lane, Headington, writes: “I remember swimming on numerous occasions at Dame’s Delight in the 1950s.

“After a hard day’s work in a hot, airless North Oxford institution, a gang of us would walk down Banbury Road, South Parks Road and along the long sandy track, which seemed endless, until we reached the Parks and rollers – hot and sticky.

“With eyes forward passing Parson’s Pleasure (the men’s nude bathing place), we hurried over the rickety wooden gang plank construction to the grassy bank and huts lining the river’s edge and got our swimming gear on as quickly as possible.

“Bliss! A quick dive into the water to cool off – not even the green, murky appearance put us off, nor were we concerned when our toes mingled with the muddy bottom and weeds of the river, with the occasional dead fish floating by! The refreshing coolness of the water was wonderful.

“After an hour or so and exhausted, we trekked back to the city centre for tea and buns at Lyons’ Corner House at Carfax, by which time we were tired and hot and sticky all over again!

“But we had had fun and would repeat the experience again and again over the summertime.”

As we recalled, the pool didn’t have a name when it opened in 1934, but was quickly dubbed Dame’s Delight and although never official, the name stuck.

At first, it was for women only, but later it was opened for mixed bathing.

Among those who made regular use of the pool were women undergraduates and pupils at Oxford High School for Girls and Rye St Antony School in Pullen’s Lane, Headington.

It closed in the 1970s, despite a campaign by Lady Wheare, wife of the Rector of Exeter College, to save it.

Ann Spokes Symonds, of Davenant Road, North Oxford, has sent in a picture she took with her box camera, at the age of 14, of her brother Peter and Penny, the girl next door, wringing out their bathing costumes after swimming at Dame’s Delight in June 1940.

She writes: “I have happy memories of Dame’s Delight on hot summer days.

“Other memories include the strict instructions we were given by our school, where we learned to row, that we were never to stray into Parson’s Pleasure because that is where men bathed with no clothes on.

“There is, of course, the old story of the ladies who walked into Parson’s Pleasure by mistake. Some men standing on the bank covered up their private parts when they saw the women.

“However, one of them covered up his face instead. He presumed that he could therefore not be identified.”

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