The Wonder Pool Of The North

When the North Bay Bathing Pool officially opened on July 8th, 1938, Scarborough was quick to sing its praises.

We have imparted to this sunshine pool the atmosphere of a Continental resort, giving you the warm, blue waters of the Mediterranean, and surrounding the whole with lovely flower beds, thus making a perfect setting for a tonic holiday. By night the pool will be flooded by underwater lighting, thus making it the Wonder Pool of the North.

(Councillor Gibson, quoted in the Scarborough Mercury –  July 8th, 1938)

In spite of the fact that the pool was unfinished when it opened to the public on the previous Saturday, 33,000 visitors passed through the gates of the attraction within the first week alone, and vast crowds gathered on the slopes of nearby Alexandra Gardens to watch the opening ceremony, which included performances from Munn and Felton’s Band, and a diving exhibition by Mr D. W. Hider, the Yorkshire Springboard Diving champion.

Above: The impressive outdoor pool (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

As was usual in Scarborough at this time, the opening was a grand affair, with all the usual trimmings. The Mayoress was presented with a bouquet by a young child (in this case Miss Anne Overfield, daughter of the Borough Engineer), there were lots of wordy speeches and demonstrations, and no doubt a ribbon was cut. However, the usual presentation of a gold key (which characterised the opening of the nearby Corner Cafe for example) was overlooked. Shocking! Instead the Mayor was presented with something altogether different, described as follows:

…a hand wrought fruit dish with applied vine-chased border, engraved with the Borough’s coat of arms and an appropriate inscription.

(Scarborough Mercury –  July 8th, 1938)

What this inscription was, remains unreported, but this represented an unusual departure from tradition. Then again, this was no ordinary bathing pool. In fact, the pool was already three years old when this ‘opening’ occurred. It had previously served as a pool for small motor boats, which were later transferred to the lake at Northstead Manor Gardens.

Above: The original ‘boating‘ pool was a more modest affair (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

The original opening, in 1935, attracted far less attention and glamour. Indeed, three years later the Scarborough Corporation pulled out all the stops to transform the venue into a glamorous place to be.

…with the water transparent and sparkling in the brilliant sunshine…

(Councillor Gibson, quoted in the Scarborough Mercury –  July 8th, 1938)

There were white glazed tiles on the floor, walls glistening with white marble terrazzo and fifty three ‘dressing boxes’ for each sex. There were seating areas for bathers, spectators and even sun-seekers, who could sunbathe on a rooftop terrace. The pool itself was divided by a long island into a shallow area and the main pool, with seawater pumped in and a system that took only six hours to clean the entire pool.

Above: The North Bay Bathing Pool enjoyed many prosperous decades of operation (Stories From Scarborough Image Archive)

It is incredible to think how many people swam here between 1938 and 2007, when the final manifestation of the pool (by then referred to as Atlantis) eventually closed for good. All that remains are the entry gates, outer walls and some of the Mediterranean themed buildings. The sparkling waters described in the Scarborough Mercury, all those years ago, are difficult to imagine today.


All information in this post was retrieved from old newspaper articles held in the Scarborough Room at Scarborough Library.


3 thoughts on “The Wonder Pool Of The North

  1. Pingback: The World Of Holograms: A Proper Introduction | Stories From Scarborough

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  3. Pingback: Sensational Swimmers and Daring Divers | Stories From Scarborough

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