I have always loved looking at my Gran's collection of black and white photos, she always looked so glamorous. And yet you would never believe that she came from a very poor mining family from the Rhondda valley in Wales.
This photo is taken in the Tropicana on the seafront at Weston-super-Mare in 1938, you can see the Grand Atlantic hotel in the background. The Tropicana was a new swimming pool, with an elaborate diving board, which opened on the seafront at Weston in 1937. You can see the diving board in all it's glory here. A trip to Weston was seen as heaven to my Gran and her sister, a break from the grim mining towns of South Wales and a chance to relax and get glammed up.
My Gran had very little money, but she would adapt and alter clothes to add a bit of extra fizz. She also spent ages on her hair and always wore lipstick. As a young woman she had to leave home and move to London to get a job and I think this time in the capital got her interested in fashion. Whenever she returned to see her family in Wales she had the slight air of the film star about her. Although her family gently teased her new glamorous ways - when she returned home wearing a particularly jaunty hat, her Father remarked "where's the carnival?".
This photo is so optimistic because it was taken in peace time between the wars and after much suffering in the Great Depression of the 1920s. A few years later, it was a very different story, my Gran joined the WAAF and rather than following fashions in London, she was dodging bombs and moving around the country to various grim postings in old country houses as part of her war work.
I also love this photo as I am a Weston girl born and bred and I visited the Tropicana as a child in its 1980s reincarnation. It is also an important snapshot of an endangered building. There are plans to demolish this historical art deco construction and many people are very unhappy about it, there is currently and online campaign to save the Tropicana. The site has remained unoccupied since 2000 and it seems such a waste of a perfectly usuable space. I think it would be amazing if it could be restored to its 1937 glory as seen in my Gran's photo.