Percy Reboul and John Heathfield revisit the popular spots for a summer dip, including one that needed a rationing system

The approach (hopefully) of warmer weather is a reminder of the popularity of swimming and the lure of the public pool.

In the 19th Century such things hardly existed. A notable exception was the Welsh Harp, which was built to supply water to the Grand Union Canal. Here, around 1870, swimming tournaments were part of the fun.

Earlier, in 1860, the boys at Mill Hill School had a swimming pool as part of the Victorian tradition of healthy outdoor sports.

The boys of Totteridge Park originally swam in the Long Ponds, but the lads of the Boys' Farm Home, in East Barnet, went one better with a diving board for the suicidally inclined.

In the years between the two World Wars, many social changes made life more attractive for a growing population and many of our swimming pools were constructed around this time. Councils often took the lead in such matters. For example, in 1925, Finchley Council acquired 60 acres of land known as the Glebe Land, fronting Summers Lane and the Great North Road.

A large sports complex was built on the site, with football and rugby pitches and a grandstand to seat 1,000 spectators. Part of this complex was a new open-air swimming pool, which was unveiled in 1932 by the then Duke of York, our present Queen's late father.

The architecture was striking and included an imposing entrance, a restaurant and picnic area for summer months and two pools - a nine-foot deep pool with diving board for adults, and a smaller one for schoolchildren.

The pool was so popular a "rationing" system was often required which used coloured wrist bands to mark the time you went in the water.

Nothing is free, of course, unless you were one of the agile youngsters who could nip over the perimeter fence.

On weekdays the entrance charge was sixpence for adults and fourpence for children. Sundays and Bank Holidays were dearer at one shilling, and you could hire a towel for twopence, or the same to hire a swimming costume - providing you could afford the three shilling deposit before it was handed over.

Newspapers reported the weekly attendance figures and there were sometimes as many as 20,000 people a week using the pool. On August bank holiday Monday in 1937, more than 4,000 people took the plunge. There was great regret among many people when the pool finally closed to make way for today's complex.

All that is left for some of us, is a fond memory of a penny ride to the pool on the trolleybus from the Gaumont at Finchley carrying a swimming costume in a towel.