1961: Murton splashes out

Tommy Elliott watched in excitement as the concrete foundations were laid for a new 50-metre swimming pool near his Murton home.

"I was just a young lad at the time, still at Murton Modern School, but I still remember it as clear as anything," he said.

"The pool was owned by the colliery and my dad, Billy, paid towards it each week out of his pit pay, just like I did when I started there."

Colliery bosses designed the Olympic-sized pool as an open-air leisure facility for all villagers, charging a small entrance fee to cover costs.

Despite being open to the elements, the water was warm throughout the year, due to the cooling water diverted from colliery compressors.

"The pool was grassed all the way round and, in the really fine weather, you'd get 2-300 people there," said Tommy.

"People would make a real day of it, buying ice creams while queuing to get in, and bringing their own sandwiches for picnics by the pool. I remember one man, Tommy Stanbridge, could swim the entire length of the pool under water. There were a lot of good swimmers around then."