​Holidays exhibition at Rustington Museum brings back memories of happy days at the Lido

​​With summer on the way, Rustington Museum has put together a new exhibition all about holidays, with many postcards and photographs on display.

Rustington Lido and the Broadmark Hotel are the main focus, but the exhibition also features other hotels in the village and some local souvenirs.

Claire Lucas, museum manager, said: "Lidos were a big fashion thing in the 1920s, promoting health. The Rustington one had a holiday complex attached.

"Some of the memories we have been given show people were holidaying here for the first time ever. It was set up by the Workers Travel Association as an alternative to guest houses - they really wanted to promote holidays."

The association was formed in London in November 1921 as a collaboration of trade unions, the English Labour Party and the Co-operative Movement. It acquired the Lido, with its outdoor swimming pools, in 1948 and renamed it Mallon Dene after James Mallon, one of its founders.

Claire said: "The main idea was to make travel more affordable and easier for working class people and their families, both in the UK and abroad. It believed that holidays, full of adventure and discovery, were for everyone, not just the wealthy.

"They were not holiday camps, as they were much less organised, with less laid-on activities, and the cheaper prices reflected this. The business continued until 1982."

About 400 evacuees were sent to the Lido during the Second World War, including disabled children from London. Records from 1939 show Rustington Lido was a London County Council camp, with teachers and domestic staff looking after the pupils.

Later in the war, troops from America and Canada were billeted there while waiting for D-Day. They held a Christmas party for local children and gave out sweets and chocolate.

Claire said: "Thanks to enquiries from members of the public and our research, we have found names and stories of some of the people who were evacuated to the Lido."

Postcards from the museum collection are on display, many of them purchased by Rustington Heritage Association. They show different views of the Lido site, including the pool, accommodation blocks and activities available to guests.

Claire said: "The ones marked with a red dot have messages on the back and we encourage people to read them.

"You could get a pass for day visitors, a bit like Butlin's. It wasn’t licensed to serve alcohol but the Broadmark Hotel next door was and we know the hotel was definitely used for drinks.

"The hotel was built in its own private grounds on the site in 1936, with modern facilities for the more exacting guests, and people freely moved between the two."

The 1950 film Soho Conspiracy, directed by Cecil H. Williamson, was partly filmed at the hotel, with local people as extras.

Also on display are a collection of Rustington souvenirs and pictures of other hotels in Rustington, like the Shirlands on the corner of Station Road and Preston Avenue, and Marigolds at the junction of Holmes Lane and Sea Lane.

Claire said: "Even before the Lido was built, many people came to Rustington for their holidays. Places to stay popped up all over the village, from boarding houses to grand hotels, there was plenty of choice."

Marigolds, home to writer and poet Mary C.D. Hamilton, was damaged by fire during troop training in the war and it was demolished in the 1960s.

Rustington Towers, in Mewsbrook Park, was also badly damaged in a fire, in 1935, and was finally burned down in 1939 during a local Air Raid Precaution rescue exercise.

Rustington Lido was demolished in the 1960s and the Mallon Dene estate now occupies the site at the bottom of Broadmark Lane. The hotel clientele then began to dwindle, though it was still used by locals and for private functions until it was demolished in 1984.

Claire said: “We have already collected some memories but, as always, we would love to hear from people who have memories of the Lido and Broadmark Hotel, and any photographs or souvenirs they are willing to share. It is the sharing that makes the exhibition.”

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