Wiltshire Publications

Swimming Pool steps back in time for 130th anniversary

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 at 12:11 pm.

Westbury swimming pool 130th anniversary Colin Larrigan, Kate Forecaste, Ian Cunningham, Jim Kettlety, Oliver Nash as rubber ring and town crier John Hadfield

WESTBURY Swimming Pool stepped back in time last month to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the pool – one of the longest serving Victorian swimming pools in the country.

To mark the anniversary of the opening of the pool on 24th May 1888, staff dressed in Victorian costume and the public were invited to browse a pop-up museum about the history of the pool, the people who made it happen, along with stories from the local community.

General manager, Colin Larrigan, spent the day dressed as William Laverton who built the swimming baths to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

Colin said, “For the 130th anniversary of Westbury pool the staff wanted to create something not only to celebrate the building, but also the customers and staff that have used it over the many years.

“To generate interest and also grow the event, we invited the local community to contribute and we also used local resources in Wiltshire and Westbury. This gained momentum and generated an amazing influx of history, information and fantastic memories for all involved.

“Contributions from the Westbury Family History Group found the first four superintendents of the pool and even living relations. Wiltshire and Swindon Heritage Centre contributed some amazing pieces of work including the original floor plans of the pool, the minute book with some very interesting entries including the introduction of mixed bathing, alternative uses of the pool when boarded over during the winter months (badminton and gymnastics) and also the outbreak of both World Wars.

“The local community were the hidden gem in this event, with some brilliant stories being told by users of the pool for over 70 years, in some cases five generations of families learning to swim in the pool!

“The day went really well with attendance from the IQL (international lifeguarding qualification) team, Westbury’s mayor, cllr Ian Cunningham, was in attendance alongside other councillors, and swimming sessions were introduced by the town crier, John Hadfield. All of this activity was covered by BBC Radio Wiltshire live from the pool on the day.

“The event was well received and a good steady stream of customers attended throughout the day, some learning and some educating us further on a selection of our pop-up museum.

“The celebration was concluded by the re-blessing of the foundation stone by the local reverend, followed by a beautiful rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’, by Matravers School. The tolling of Westbury’s All Saints Church began at 5.15pm to hopefully mark another 130 years of serving the public with exercise, socialising and fun!”   

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