1950's memories from a black skinned, blue eyed mermaid
By Marianne Grant, first published in TBE 8.
My first memories of Studland go back to the summer of 1950 - I was
three years old at the time. Dad would pack his bag with bread and
cheese, a bottle of water, his pipe and baccy, and waving farewells to
Mum off we'd go. He rode a very large black bicycle with a metal child
seat on the back, into which I was unceremoniously dumped (no safety
harness, no hard hat!) I remember he always took off my sandals before
we started because I hated wearing them, and they would inevitably get
'lost' along the way'
We would leave the bike - not locked - at the Haven and I always had
the choice of Big Ferry or Little Ferry I always chose the latter - the
small Davis boat which cost the princely sum of 3d (the Big Ferry was
6d) The pier on the Studland side was a very rickety wooden affair to
the right of the toll road, just short of the little wooden cafe, which
resembled a glorified beach hut.
We then walked along the beach (me naked by this time) to a point
just before Midway Path: the hollow is still there We now call it 'The
Deep Hollow', wherein resided The Major (the original, not to be
confused with the more recent, sadly now deceased, Major Mike). He had
built himself a weird and wonderful construction, from all kinds of
metal work, railway sleepers, in fact anything that came to hand I
believe he lived there for most of the year - to a small child it seemed
an idyllic, magical way to live
As soon as we arrived Dad stripped off, and as he and the Major
brewed their tea on their ever burning fire, lit up their pipes and
started jawing, I made my escape to the wonderful imaginary world that
only a small child can have the beach and dunes were all mine, and the
world was my oyster I just did whatever I wanted, with no fear in those
days - in fact I don't really remember seeing many people at all, just a
few of Dad's cronies. They used to call me a little black skinned, blue
Eventually Dad and the Major would emerge from the encampment to go
swimming; Dad was a very good swimmer, and he taught me at a very early
age, without the dreaded armbands or water wings!
The long hot summer afternoons would eventually draw to a close, with
all the vittles consumed (and, I suspect, all the baccy smoked!), we
made our farewells and trailed - very reluctantly for my part - back to
the ferry I'm told that I inevitably fell asleep on the bike during the
I will always remember those halcyon days of my childhood and will be
eternally grateful to my dear father for introducing me to naturism and
to 'My' Studland beach, which to this day remains, to me, unsurpassed.