Archive for the ‘swimming pool’ Category


The Telegraph reports: The National Trust is to open its first public swimming pool after gardeners restoring a spectacular Victorian property stumbled across a long forgotten lido.

Groundsmen working at Standen House in West Sussex  – the former home of celebrated horticulturist Margaret Beale – discovered the neglected pond when they nearly fell into it while clearing undergrowth.

The lido was built in the 1890s for the wealthy Beale family and their seven children to enjoy a dip in the heart of their 12 acre garden. But it was long forgotten after being hidden beneath decades of growth. It would be the first time a man-made pool had been opened to the public at one of its properties.

Letters and diary entries by Mrs Beale, housed at Standen, reveal how the children spent happy summer in the pool. They would compete for the right to swim in the deep end by testing how long they could remain dunked underwater, and would dare one another to jump in rather than descend the steps. Read more…



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The River Torrens was home for the Gilberton Swimming Club until 1970 when it was banned from using the waterway

Adelaide Now reports:

A 100-year-old swimming club that started in the River Torrens is closing but only after sharing its $450,000 nest egg with the community. Gilberton Swimming Club will spread the money among the Walkerville, Klemzig, Vale Park and East Adelaide Primary schools. The $450,000 sum has grown from about $150,000 the state government paid the club when it was forced out of the Torrens swimming hole in 1970.

Gilberton Swimming Club on the banks of the River Torrens

A ban on swimming in the river displaced the club, which received the money for land it owned either side of the Torrens pool. The homeless club has since funded children’s swimming classes in local pools instead of building a replacement pool of its own. More…

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The Observer reports: Swimmers across Britain will greet the longest day by plunging into a pool tomorrow. Many will take that summer solstice dip amid the splendour of a restored public lido or municipal baths as the national appetite for preserving historic leisure facilities grows.

In Penzance, the Jubilee Pool reopened last month following a £3m repair project after storm damage in 2014. The pool, built in 1935, was first reopened in 1994 after falling into disrepair.

The new lido movement, driven by a fresh impulse to swim in the open air, has notched up a series of successful rescues. Among the star sites are south London’s Brockwell Lido, for years threatened with closure, the lido in High Wycombe, shut down in 2010, and one in Charlton, which reopened after a £2m refurbishment in 2013. In Reading, Berkshire, the team behind the restoration of Bristol’s chic Grade II-listed open-air pool at Clifton are doing extensive work on the former King’s Meadow pool, built in 1902 for women and initially fed by Thames water. It has been closed for 42 years. On the south coast, Saltdean Lido, near Brighton, was visited by communities and local government secretary Greg Clark this month to herald its restoration by 2017. Six years ago the pool was due to be filled in. More…


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The Age – Victoria reports: Fancy a swim in the Yarra River?

Watercraft regulations make it illegal and water quality makes it questionable – especially after it rains – but a not-for-profit group wants to change that by building a floating swimming pool on the river’s edge that would cost at least $6 million.

The Yarra Swim Co has released a concept design for the pool it suggests could be built on the banks of the Yarra next to Enterprize Park, where Melbourne’s settlers moored their ship in 1835.


The concept was released on Thursday night as part of Australia’s Venice Biennale Exhibition, opening this week.

The group last year pushed to revive the historic Race to Princes Bridge, a swim competition that ran from the early 1900s to the 1960s, and again in the late 1980s.

It argues that waterway pools are a growing concept globally, with plans under way for New York and London. More…

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Beccles River Bathing Place 1905

Highlights and Early History of River Bathing at Beccles

Test your knowledge at the end!

1862 WARNING: To Bathers. All persons who are found bathing in the RIVER WAVENEY between the Smelt House and 200 yards below Beccles Bridge after 9 o’clock in the morning, will be PROSECUTED according to law.

1867 COUNCIL: Public Bathing Place suggested.
1873 Saw the purchase of the Old Granary on the banks of the river Waveney in Puddingmoor for the sum of £300. The building was to be used as a dressing room for people bathing in the river. This was the beginning of the history of organised Outdoor Swimming in Beccles. The old bathing place still much used.
1874 Council: Bathing Place should be made deeper. 200 a day used it when very warm; 100 when cooler; 50 a day now (September).
1875 Ladies to have special time for using Bathing Place.
1881 BATHING PLACE: (LETTER): Some years ago a spot about 300 yards up the river was the only recognised place for bathing, but it was hampered by a halfpenny fine to reach it, for ferrying across the river. There was difficulty about getting a right of way to the Bathing place. The Corporation decided upon making a new bathing place. They purchased propertyalongside the river, but unfortunately a bungle was made of the scheme, and the outcome was an old granary fitted up in rough and ready style, and a limited quantity of enclosed water. This was all very well for youngsters learning to swim, but the grand mistake was in ignoring the large number of persons who can swim, and to whom it is no pleasure to be contained to a small breadth of filthy water. The old bathing place is still used by many who desire to enjoy a wholesome bathe. A better spot could not be found for miles around. Until within the last two or three years the ground shelved gradually down to the middle of the river, which is deep, free from weeds, and suitable in every respect for the swimmer. Now holes have been dredged in the shallow side, and it is positively dangerous. Only the other morning a lad, trying to swim, got into one of these holes and was nearly drowned.
1894 108 yards of the river frontage was cordoned off and enclosed with and post and plank fence. The planking was fixed to stout posts, driven firmly into the bed of the river, a gap below the fence allowed the flow to change the depth of water. Cubicles were built for changing rooms: one set for ladies and one for the gentlemen separated by a large communal changing room for youth and boys. For girls there were six or eight wooden huts.
1895 NEW BATHING PLACE used by 30,000 bathers this Summer. Never before has there been such a run on the place as a result of the long and hot summer.
River Bathing Place Beccles
 1922 The Town Council agree to allot separate hours to schools for children’s swimming lessons. The Council also agreed to the installation of 3 spring boards with the centre one to be made rigid (no longer in existence). 1930s The entry fee was 2d for Adults and 1d for children.

1959 Construction of a new Bathing Place adjacent to the old one began and was completed in the same year. The result is what remains today; Beccles Outdoor Swimming Pool.

Diving Boards at Beccles Bathing Place

1975 Saw the installation of Heating for the Pool.

The Swimming Pool at Beccles

1976 “Beccles Swimming Pool is one of the town’s most popular summer sporting attractions providing not only a pleasant riverside leisure spot for local people and holiday visitors alike but also valuable service as a place where people can learn to swim..” For more information click here…


Questions to consider…

When the Romans occupied Britain they built bathing places countrywide. Why did these close, and why was bathing and swimming then discouraged for centuries? (see Hung Out to Dry p 11, 14-16, 41-43)

In 1862 why was it OK to bathe in the river before 9.00 am, but why did you face prosecuted for bathing after 9.00? (see Hung Out to Dry p 7, 96)

Why fence off the river for bathers? (see Hung Out to Dry p 23-24, 119)

Why build a Lido when river bathing was so popular? (see Hung Out to Dry p 129)

Why since then have Lidos closed one after another, and why do those that remain struggle to keep their heads above water? (see Hung Out to Dry p 33-34)

Enjoy find the answers here…

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The Strand Lido Gillingham swimming history

The Strand – Gillingham

From Kent History Forum, Shell remembers: “I loved the Strand as a child, to me it seemed it was my very own personal playground! From the start of summer at the age of five, until the end of summer when I was eleven, my mum was in charge of the boating pool at the Strand, and also kept an eye on the paddling pool next door. She’d stand around in her waders in the water for most of the day, helping people in and out of the boats, charging 20p for half an hour.

Almost every School day from about the age of eight, I was helped on to the 145 bus to the Strand… Got off the bus, and went over to the boating pool, let Mum know I was there, and headed for the swimming pool.

Every year Mum got me a season ticket for the pool, and as children do, rain or shine I’d be in the pool, even if I was sitting on the bar in the shallow end, because the water was too cold to swim in! It was there that I was taught to swim by ‘Auntie’ Rita, the head lifeguard, and was kept an unofficial eye on by the sun-tan ladies.  And if I wasn’t there, I was running around the play equipment, outside…

During the summer holidays, nearly everyday except Sunday’s, I was down there, running around… I had boundaries of where I could and couldn’t go.  I was to stay away from the road, not leave the Strand, not to go past the golf cabin, not to talk to strangers, and not to go onto the beach, without an adult, because it was dangerous.  And the one time I did sneak onto the beach to see my first jellyfish, my dad, who worked for the council, happened to be down the Strand that day and saw me!  Then I really was stuck in Mum’s cabin with nothing to do!

…There were a lot of fun times there, but it’s all changed now.  But every now and then, I still get, “Did your mum work at the Strand” or  a “I remember you, your ‘Auntie’ Pam’s daughter, from the boating pool!”  As most of the regular locals knew my mum as either ‘Auntie’ Pam or Mrs Boating Pool Lady!”


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Certainly not the idea, the Health and safety ethos protects us from many unnecessary risks; it has saved lives and prevented countless accidents.

But is it working in the swimming environment?

In many ways yes, thinking about potential risks and finding ways to negate them makes organised swims safer and builds confidence in those who allow swimmers to take to their waterways.

It’s doesn’t work when risks are perceived incorrectly.

No Swimming Castle Gardens Leicester

The Royal Life Saving Society is commendably committed to reducing open water drownings. Yet despite outdoor swimmers being ranked as a low risk group, its public message to date has been crystal clear. “Don’t get in, you might not get out.” So convincing has been the message theirs no wonder that local authorities and water companies are reluctant to open up inland beaches and bathing places for swimming, despite encouragement and guidance from members of the Outdoor Swimming Society, because to do so would seem to fly in the face of reason.

Swim indoors

The UK swim indoors policy does not sit well with the wild swimming movement and so we find ourselves at loggerheads when trying to balance safety with leisure outdoor swimming. Triathlon events are encouraged and their is of cause some overlap with leisure swimmers taking to lakes in which more serious swimmers are training, but what about children, families and casual swimmers?

Because we have held the door closed on outdoor swimming for so long, perhaps we need to look beyond our shores for inspiration.

Stamford Meadows Bathing Place

The Cootamundra Herald published an article this week that makes interesting reading:

“LOCAL swim instructors have been taking primary school students through their paces, building their confidence, swimming ability and learning water safety strategies at the Cootamundra Heated Pool.

… the 10 day intensive water safety course is aimed to equip children with essential skills. Each day instructors deliver a new safety message, and then they teach survival sequences in the pool. 

… School principal Bill Godman says that being able to swim is an essential life skill. “The Australian outdoor lifestyle demands that we have those skill-sets to enable us to go swimming in the beach, swimming in the river and swimming in the backyard pool,”

it’s imperative the children learn to swim without goggles so they have confidence to stay afloat in a dangerous situation.

…some parents are concerned that we are asking the children to swim with their goggles off but if you associate being able to swim with wearing goggles, you won’t be able to swim without them,” Mrs Baldry said. …if they fall into a small body of water they wouldn’t have goggles on.”

“In this course we ask them keep their head out of the water anyway; students are treading water, floating on their back, and practicing survival backstroke.” 

Now can we learn anything from down under?

Just this week, Prince Charles has voiced his concern that people’s connection with the countryside is dying. Yet wild swimmers are connecting with the countryside, using village pubs and restaurants whilst promoting countryside tourism. The problem is that many of the British population are ill equipped for outdoor living. Anglers, walkers, cyclists and boaters are all attracted to our beautiful landscape but have little understanding when it comes to open water swimming and survival. Children and teenagers are especially at risk because of their affinity with and fascination for water.

With 1,300 primary schools not bothering to offer swimming lessons despite its compulsory listing in the National Curriculum, and with a less than a 50/50 chance of learning to swim in primary schools that do bother, you can see that much of the blame rests in a lack of education.

Some parents take matters into their own hands and pay for private swimming lessons but even then think, what happens at the end of the course? Either the pupil does well and takes up competitive swimming as part of a club, or if he has no interest in competition swimming as happens in most cases he stops swimming altogether.

Diving facilities are few and far between, leisure pools are designed for non swimmers, their are too few outdoor swimming opportunities inland and so our newly qualified swimmer has little opportunity or desire to practice his swimming ability.

Bath Island Windsor

Leisure swimming is not classified as sport and so it attracts little interest or funding. Despite this it is the only way to practice and polish a life saving skill once learned, which in my view makes it even more important than competition swimming, especially when we remember that swimming is primarily a life saving skill. We need outdoor swimming opportunities to flourish if we are going to reduce open water drowning.

Drowning statistics reveal that many of those that drown in open water were thought to be competent swimmers, at least they could swim well at the indoor pool. But when you investigate a little further you discover that such drownings are not surprising. Those whose only experience of swimming is restricted to warm water swimming pools, wearing goggles and then only in appropriate dress, find themselves in difficulty when they end up in cold water unexpectedly. Many find the shock of the cold inhibits rational thought and they flounder. Others find that they simply cannot stay afloat, let alone swim, when fully clothed. A lack of knowledge results in many a desperate struggle against river flows or rip currents in the sea which could safely be navigated if experience and knowledge had been gained beforehand. Our expectations for schoolchildren are so low that the swimming skills they master prove far from life saving.

The Way Forward

The ASA list of outdoor bathing places may have become a thing of the past, but it is hoped that this may soon change as they reconsider their role in promoting leisure swimming outdoors.

The bathing place Abingdon 1939

The idea that outdoor swimming is inherently dangerous and very risky may have been accepted up to this point. But with the growth of the wild swimming movement, the example of our European neighbors, the rise in competitive outdoor swimming and the voices of outdoor swimmers and regular features in The Guardian; the Health and Safety machine is having its dials reset, and we can look to the future with hope.

Henley 1930

It will take a long time to turn the tide on prejudice, but I have lived in the multicultural city of Leicester all my life. The indigenous people have come to accept and love the newcomers from abroad that now make up the majority of its inhabitants. It has taken time, but with communication comes understanding and eventually tolerance and acceptance.

Head Weir, Open Air Bathing Place Exeter

Rather than trying to tame the wild swimmer, the tide is now turning towards respect and tolerance. The idea that all outdoor swimming is dangerous is standing in the way of clear lifesaving education. Schools need to focus their attention not on abstinence but on life saving skill. We teach cycling proficiency on the road for good reason; why then don’t we teach life saving skills in open water?

Because the Health and Safety ethos at this present time rules it out.


The Health and Safety message needs to change because it moves us to ignore the real problem. If we tell people never to go into the water we can hardly give advice as to how to survive if they do. We don’t really need to teach children how to swim if their never going to go in! But despite all the advice and good intentions some children will go in. To escape the heat and cool off, because of a persuasive friend, for a dare or to show off, whatever it is they will go in, but because of a lack of education they might not get out! We need to engage teenagers with a challenging and fulfilling swimming experience. We need to bring back diving boards, inland beaches and river bathing places.

Rutland Water Bathing Beach

Changes are afoot. The Royal Life Saving Society are reconsidering their message and refocusing on education.

The current Health and Safety advice could well be contributing to needless drownings.

Knowledge empowers.

Education saves lives!

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