Auctions for West Wight Swimming Pool


SPLASH held yearly auctions at the Memorial Hall and our first auctioneer was the late Steve Ross MP, who was a very valued supporter of our very ambitious project of building an indoor heated swimming pool here in the West Wight. These auctions were run very professionally with viewing during the morning, catalogues already having been printed with the aid of a antiquated duplicator. Duplicator? What was that? Lunch hour was a frantic rush to rearrange the lots in chronological order. There was always a long queue of potential bidders waiting to get the best seats in the house knowing that they would be having a very entertaining afternoon with the probability of a bargain or two to take home. We were lucky enough to have the services of a valuer from the local sale room. Yes, in those days we had an auction room in School Green Road next to Swiss Cottage, the home of Madge and the late Fred Joiner. There is now a pair of houses standing on the site. We very rarely had anything of great value but one year our valuer (also a great supporter of the Pool project) said a set of Georgian teaspoons might be worth something. In the several years of running auctions, they were the only things to get stolen. I wonder if the person who took them ever stopped to think he or she had robbed the pool of a couple of boxes of tiles!


Once the auction was over we were left with the clearing up and the deliveries. Oh dear, the deliveries – these were in the capable hands of Bill Miles, John Howe, Robert Young and Stan Crowder. Luckily all four got on extremely well together – they needed to, having a heavy piano to be delivered upstairs, some night storage heaters and we all know how heavy they were then and very old fashioned, and also a huge marble fireplace. Needless to say deliveries had to be paid for, nothing was free during these years of hard graft fund raising. These auctions were extremely lucrative, bringing much needed ready cash in the early days.

We held Donkey Derbys with a proper tote, a mile of pennies, sponsored swims, sponsored walks, New Year’s Day swim at Colwell Bay. One year Sarah Richardson (Barbara’s daughter) arranged for some of her student friends to run out of the sea, pick Barbara up and throw her in, fully dressed. I drove Barbara home and I have never heard so many swear words in the short drive between Colwell and Totland. We also held our own Flag Day, licence applied for, collecting sins at the ready. Safari Suppers made a welcome change – an event where SPLASH members and friends could dress up and socialise.

We held the usual raffles, Christmas and Easter Fairs – one year everyone contributed Easter eggs for the raffle – we were inundated with eggs from creme egg size to an enormous chocolate egg donated by a local firm, which was won by Mark Young (Sheila Young’s son, a member of SPLASH) who was very generous with sharing it out, but to be quite honest by the first of May we had all seen enough of chocolate. We also had a charity shop, local empty premises being donated to SPLASH. In the 1970s charity shops were not the big businesses they are today, so we would open just for a week, with lights but no heating. After a day or two it became apparent that we had regulars who would come in every day to see what ‘new’ stock had arrived. We really thought we had hit the big time when we were lent an empty shop in Newport.

We also held a couple of highly salubrious Cheese and Wine evenings; thinking back I don’t think there was anything we didn’t try.

Anything handed in for the White Elephant stall was taken home by Win Cook and her friend Vi, who washed, polished and generally titivated the items, adding more value them.