Henleaze Lake: Nude swimming, high diving and romance remembered
The history of a wild swimming club, hidden in the heart of Bristol's suburbia, has been published to mark its 100th year.
Henleaze Swimming Club was set up in a flooded quarry in 1919 following a spate of drownings the year before.
Alumni include actor David Prowse who played Darth Vader in Star Wars.
"It's surprising how many people who've lived in Bristol all their lives don't know about it," said Janet Cocks, 87, whose parents were founder members.
Photographs of Mrs Cocks as a child and today feature in the new book The Lake by Susie Parr.
Mrs Parr joined the club in the 1980s when it was keen for new members. Today the waiting list to join is three years long, adding to its exclusivity.
Mrs Parr is one of a group of about 200 members who enjoy swimming in the lake in winter.
"It's not everybody's cup of tea and yes it's a shock when you get in but when you get out you feel fantastic," she said.
Researching for her book has unearthed some gems including a photograph of David Prowse, who also played the Green Cross Code man in a series of road safety commercials, in his body building days and a letter of complaint about a group of young people swimming at night after the lake had officially closed.
Liz Lewis (then Watson) remembers being one of the young people involved.
"I had no idea about the letter," she said.
"On a Saturday night we would go for a dance at the local club and come for a swim in the nude and it was all innocent - it was the only thing we got up to.
"We weren't doing any harm - maybe it was a bit exciting but nothing truly," she said.
David Woodwood was another teenage club member until 1962 when he left the city.
He was "desperate" to join as he saw the club as "a good place for a bit of romance".
"They were magnificent years and those girls and boys have become life-long friends," he said.
The club has two springboards and a diving board station with fixed boards at 5m (16ft 4in) and 7.5m (24ft 7in).
The top board at 10m (32ft 8in) is not in use anymore but Michael Satherley remembers his dad Doug performing diving displays from it.
"He was a diving coach at the lake and a diving judge, for the Western Counties ASA in the 1950's," Mr Satherley said.
Mrs Cocks is now one of the club's oldest members at 87, and has been coming to the lake all her life.
"I remember as a toddler being told to keep away from the edge because it's deep," she said.
"You couldn't go in unless you could swim - you still can't."
Her dad Archie Macfarlane was a club superintendent after World War One and her mum Blanche served the teas.
Every day during school holidays was spent at the lake.
"When we went back to school in September other children would talk about their holidays and where they'd been and I'd say I'd been here at the lake and they'd say 'what's the lake?'."
Mrs Cocks admitted she swims infrequently now as the water is "too cold" but when she is tempted, she said there was "nowhere else like it".
"When you look around you can't believe it's in the middle of the city."