The Rotunda & Swimming Pool in the 70's
When I lived in Folkestone, this was the only swimming pool we had after the indoor pool was demolished in 1966.  This one too has now gone, and then was the site of the Folkestone Market on Sundays until it moved up into Sandgate Road.  However, the current residents of Folkestone are not deprived, they have the Sports Centre down near the Royal Victoria Hospital which houses two swimming pools, a fitness centre, a dry ski slope, a 9 hole golf course and many other activities.

Beyond the swimming pool can be seen The Rotunda, which was owned for many years by Jimmy Godden.  I have a separate page on the demolition of this funfair,
You can check on the progress of the pulling down, and rebuilding of this site by going to this page Rotunda Demolition   However, on this page, we will show it the way it was in years gone by, and the huge fair it became before its demise.
As you can see, the swimming pool was right next to the sea, but the water was fresh, and well chlorinated.
I spent many happy hours in here as a child.  The only part I didn't like was walking through the tray of disinfectant when you came out of the changing rooms.  It invariably had dead flies floating on top, and smelled disgusting!
This boating pool was located between the Rotunda and the Swimming Pool.  It was a real treat to be allowed to go on there.
Another slightly blurred picture of the boating pool.  The parents could sit with a cup of tea and watch their little darlings trying to sink their friends! :-)
The boating pool also had an indoor cafe that was only recently demolished, even though it has been closed for years.
A lovely aerial view sent to me by Gordon Bradford of Folkestone.  You can clearly see the Rotunda, and in the background is the Hotel Burstin, and the harbour and East Cliff Sands  beyond.
This fabulous photo of the Rotunda along with the one below  was taken by Ian Mansfield just before they started pulling it down.
When this photo of the Rotunda was taken, the buildings in the foreground on Marine Crescent were in a pretty dilapidated state, but they have now been completely refurbished and have been turned into condos.

Incidentally, you can tell this is a postcard, you will never see the sea that blue!
This picture from the 1930's was taken from The Leas.   I am sure those steps have disappeared over the years.  I do hope this photo was hand tinted, and that the pool was never that colour - can you say algae?
A closer view of the swimming pool in 1948.  In the background you can see the Bathing Establishment advertising tepid seawater bathing.
A 1953 aerial shot showing the whole area.  The bathing establishment still had the umbrella type things outside that they were showing in the 1938 picture at the top of the page.  Close to 20 yrs is a long time to keep the same decor!
This one was also taken in 1953, the quality of the pictures look older don't they?
Just a year later, and not much has changed except the photographer invested in some colour film.
I don't have a year for this one, but would guess it to be around the late 30's
Back to the boating pool again.  It is too bad they got rid of this, it was such a lot of fun for the children.
And maybe not just the children!  That fellow at the bottom of the picture is no child, and he looks as if he is having a whale of a time!

This one was taken in 1965.
It was a little less crowded on this day.
Looks like the group of boys sitting on the wall are planning their sinking strategy before heading to the boats!

Actually, they were pretty strict on behaviour, and if you were caught doing anything stupid you were called in.
This one shows a nice view of Marine Crescent.
This was the view from the other side of the boating pool.  I think this one must date from quite early on, because that looks like the Victoria Pier in the background, and as you can see, the swimming pool hadn't been built yet.

I know the one above dates from 1953, colour postcards were starting to come in, but there was still a lot of black & white around.
Oh now this is a lovely photograph of the Rotunda, taken just before they started to demolish it.  It was taken by Ian Lacey - thanks Ian! :-)
Another fabulous shot taken during an air show by Cliff Sherwood in 2002.  Cliff is from the Virtual Tourist website, a link to which you can find on my links page. (Don't you love the teddy bears in deckchairs?)
This aerial shot from the 60's has everything in it that has now gone!  The swimming pool, the boating pool, the Rotunda and even a ferry!  I wonder if you still get the crowds of people on that beach that you got then?  There is not much there now to attract them except the sea.
Another one by Cliff Sherwood while it was still intact.  The picture below was also taken by him in 2003, it is of the wooden roller coaster that used to be a part of the Rotunda.  Obviously a great place to get a seagull's eye view!
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The swimming pool was eventually filled in to make way for the Folkestone Sunday market.  This shot on the right, taken by Penny Mayes, shows the Rotunda and the stallholders of the market getting packed up after a day's trading.  This carpark and every other carpark in the area used to be chock full while the market was going on, but as you can see, once it was over, there was room to spare.
Dated 1938 and entitled New Bathing pool.  Length 165' width 75'
You can always tell a 60's postcard by the over bright colours, when was the boating pool or the sky that blue?
OK, now the Rotunda has gone - the market has gone - what is that area going to be used for?  I had heard it was going to be luxury flats, but it has been years now, and the whole area is nothing but a derelict mass of concrete and graffiti.
As you can see, the Dome, and a few other structures still remained from the Rotunda, but its days were numbered, as was the Sunday market.  For the last several years there has been nothing down there except concrete pads and graffiti.  Such a shame, I really hope they do something with this area soon.
This page updated January 2017
Copyright Penny Mayes and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
This is the original perspective sketch as shown in the Folkestone Herald on Saturday January 30th, 1937. The development included the Rotunda and boating pool.  They were designed by David Pleydell-Bouverie.
The Rotunda and boating pool were built and opened in 1937, the open air swimming pool came about a year later. The Dome wasn't built until 1984.  After the pools were filled in around 1981-3. The Rotunda was demolished in 2002-3, after which the park operated in a reduced capacity until The Dome was knocked down in 2007.

With sincere thanks to Mark Hourahane for the picture and for the information.

The map of of the UK in the centre was planned to be an island, but they obviously decided against it, which was probably wise, can't you just see all the kids running aground, unable to get off again?
Apart from the island, they stuck pretty closely to the plan didn't they?  I love this photo, the Marine Gardens Pavilion is in the background, looking in splendid shape, and probably putting on plays nightly, everything looks well cared for, and aimed towards giving visitors the time of their life.
This is right after the Swimming Pool was built, and what a magnificent pool it was!  Also in the picture is the Victoria Pier, offering a free concert, in the foreground is the Red Roof Chalet, where you could go to see the Follies, and if you liked your water a little warmer than the outdoor pool, you could go into the Bathing Establishment, later called the Marina for warm fresh or sea water baths.  So much to do down there in those days, you were spoiled for choice.
Another nice photo of the Boating Pool, this time we get a good view of Marine Crescent.  You can also see the lifts, and although it isn't obvious, there were two pairs of them running at that location in those days.
Don't they look like fun?  Well, speaking as someone who has been on them, they were!  In the background, you can see The Bouquets advertised on the roof of the Marine Gardens Pavilion, these were a group of six ladies and five men who performed around 1936.  If you would like to see a photo of them, check out the West Beach page.
I would guess this card to be from the 50's, and just look at the way the little boy on the right is dressed, none of the George Spurgen boys dressed that posh when I was there, and I wouldn't have guaranteed their safety if they had!
We were never allowed down there at night, but I bet the boating pool looked beautiful with all those lights around it.
This little photo showing the deserted roller coaster in 2005, just before demolition was sent to me by Sylvia.
I bet this one brings back a lot of happy memories for many people.  Just look how many were there that day, surely they didn't close it through lack of use did they?  I know we had lots of holiday makers back then, and we don't now, but the schools used to use it too.  The whole seafront gave kids something to do, and kept them out of trouble.
Taken in 2005, this is what filled the seafront each Sunday for a while, until they stopped that too!