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.

Sources

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

 

Memories From Atlantis

Stories From Scarborough has been fortunate to receive a number of excellent written memories from Mark, who has so far discussed his recollections of Marvel’s and Kinderland. Now it’s time for Atlantis. If you want to read more about Atlantis and its former lives (as Water Splash World, Waterscene and the North Bay Bathing Pool), please take a look at the following links:

The Blue Waters of Atlantis (brief history and introduction)

Swimming In Scarborough: Battle Of The Bathing Pools (North vs South Bay bathing pools)

Before The North Bay Bathing Pool: The Northstead Estate (more about the site of the pool)

North Bay Pool: For Bathing Or Boating? (North Bay Bathing Pool – early days)

Atlantis: A Short Film

Pictures Of Water Splash World And Atlantis

Upon opening in 1995, Atlantis inherited, amongst other features, what were once the longest slides in Europe, or as promotional material boasted, “amongst the longest in the world”. It was these slides, that initially enticed Mark into Atlantis.

My main reason for dragging mum into Atlantis, was definitely the slides… From the outside, it was difficult to see much, due to the high walls, but the slides could be seen from the hotel door!

I rode both the slides, several times, over the couple of visits – they looked like fun, till the first time you got to the top, and looked down into the blue half-tube slides – of course, you couldn’t see over the sides, and therefore the height, but they were definitely pretty scary. After the first time, the scared element became something of a thrill, I think.

But Atlantis wasn’t just about the slides – the water park had many other features:

I remember there were areas that seemed distinctly separate, pools and such. There were even fences between some of the areas, on my second visit. I remember at the Seaward end, there was an area with a large floating barrier, and something like a high powered waterfall/jet of water, coming in from the side of the pool.

I can’t remember if there was a wave pool, I’m afraid… I have a vague memory of an area with timed water fountains in a large, circular area – to run onto, and then get caught in the middle of the fountains of water. Also, something like a tall mushroom, which water poured off the edges of, and down in a curtain of water. There was an area near this, with ropes strung between two islands, however I’m not entirely sure what these were for.

Diving boards… I only remember one. There may have been others, but I only remember one. This was immediately behind, and above, the main entrance, where some sort of ‘preparation’ area for the M.A.P. is located, I believe, now. When you entered from the street, I think you had to turn left or right, to go around the pool to the changing rooms – the wall in front of you, making you turn left or right, supported the diving board, which was accessed by steps, I think from either side of the entrance. No real memory of the changing rooms, I’m afraid.

Atlantis also hosted a special guest – the Hispaniola was briefly ‘moored’ at the water park during the mid 1990s before being repaired and eventually resurrected as an attraction on the South Bay, where it still sails today. Mark remembers this strange sight from his Scarborough visits:

I remember, some time towards the mid 90’s, a boat ‘turned up’ in Atlantis – not floating, however. I believe this may have been the Hispaniola from the Mere, from what I (well, mum) was told when I was quite keen to know where this had come from – it looked like a boat capable of sailing, and this caught my curiosity. The boat was at the inland end of the site, when I remember it being there.

He also recalls the fate of Atlantis following its closure in 2007:

I seem to remember the slides outlasting the pools and changing rooms, once demolition started – the slides and the tower standing behind the glassed in building which is now the shooting range, I think – with the slides essentially stopping in mid air, nowhere to reach to. At this point, the pools had been filled in, and a small theme park/fairground of sorts was taking place there instead. I believe the base of the tower, where the slides started from, may still be there in the grass behind the M.A.P.

Indeed, remnants of Atlantis remain part of the Military Adventure Park site – many of the remaining structures date back to the days of the North Bay Bathing Pool, which initially opened as a small boating pool in 1935.

A huge thanks to Mark, who has taken the time to put these memories in writing. Words are just as powerful as images in evoking memories, so if you remember any of the attractions listed on Stories From Scarborough, please consider sending a sentence or two via email, or even leave a short comment below.

All contributions are treated with the utmost care, and can be removed at your request at any point following submission.

Pictures Of Water Splash World And Atlantis

Stories From Scarborough has so far been privileged to share a video of Atlantis, and pictures of Marvel’s, Millennium and the Hispaniola from generous reader Leonie, who has uploaded her collection to the project Flickr account.

Now it’s time for Water Splash World. This, and its other incarnations (North Bay Bathing Pool, Waterscene and Atlantis) are quickly catching up with Marvel’s, in the battle for the title of ‘most viewed’ attraction on Stories From Scarborough. To find out more about the site and its swimming history, please take a look at the following posts:

The Blue Waters of Atlantis (brief history and introduction)

Swimming In Scarborough: Battle Of The Bathing Pools (the story of the North and South Bay bathing pools)

Before The North Bay Bathing Pool: The Northstead Estate (more about the site of the pool)

North Bay Pool: For Bathing Or Boating? (the early days of the North Bay Bathing Pool)

Atlantis: A Short Film

For now it’s back to a very specific period in the site’s history – indeed, Water Splash World started out in 1987. Its predecessor, Waterscene had opened in 1984, as a dramatic new development of the longstanding North Bay Bathing Pool (an attraction dating back to the 1930s).

All of the following images are copyright protected and must not be used or reproduced without permission – see the disclaimer for details.

Above: Promotional material for Water Splash World (source)

Below: As above (source)

Water Splash World was an outdoor swimming pool with water slides, located opposite Peasholm Park near the North Bay in Scarborough. Previously known as Waterscene, the new name marked a change in ownership and a further opportunity to market the attraction’s record breaking water slides – then the longest in Europe, and amongst some of the biggest in the world at the time.

Above: Water Splash World on a glorious sunny day (source)

In spite of the new slides and slick marketing, the pool retained many of the features from the days of the North Bay Bathing Pool, including the gates, walls and changing room buildings. Indeed, the name of the water park changed more than its key features, and Atlantis was simply another opportunity to revitalise the attraction.

Above: The then new Atlantis (source)

It’s amazing what a new logo and fresh branding can do for an attraction. Indeed, Atlantis gave the pool’s themed areas sparkly new names – Cascade Kingdom, Pirate Cove and Aquamania were just a few of the jazzy titles that graced maps of the pool. Atlantis of course refers to a fictional (but legendary) island (created as an allegory by Greek philosopher Plato), which is eventually consumed by the Atlantic Ocean after its people fall out of favour with the gods. The relevance of this title to a 1990s Scarborough water park is perhaps somewhat unclear, although the word does seem to conjure up images of an exotic and mysterious world.

Above: Atlantis in 1995 (source)

Below: The famous slides (source)

Indeed, there was little evidence of any ancient civilisations here – the oldest features were, as mentioned, the white buildings and walls that remained from the North Bay Bathing Pool. These can still be seen today, housing the Military Adventure Park. Atlantis closed in 2007 and was later dismantled.

Thanks to these images, it is possible to look back on the days of blue water, thrilling slides and outdoor swimming. Do you remember swimming here? What was it like? Please share your stories before they fade away like Atlantis!

As before, Stories From Scarborough is very grateful to Leonie for sharing these pictures – please respect this generosity by abiding with the copyright regulations outlined in the disclaimer.

Atlantis – A Short Film

The following film was kindly shared with Stories From Scarborough by Leonie, who holidayed in Scarborough during the 1980s and 1990s. It was shot in 1995; the year in which Water Splash World became Atlantis.

You can view the video in it’s original location here.

You can also read more about Atlantis and its history by checking out the following links:

The Blue Waters of Atlantis (brief history and introduction)

Swimming in Scarborough: Battle of the Bathing Pools (early history of the pool)

Before The North Bay Bathing Pool: The Northstead Estate (before the pool was built)

The North Bay Pool: For Boating or Bathing? (when boats sailed on the pool)

The pool closed in 2007 and is now the Military Adventure Park.

A huge thank you to Leonie for sharing her memories!

Anyone is very welcome to share memories with Stories From Scarborough, and even once you’ve donated material, you are free to retract it at any time. Please do get in touch if interested.

North Bay Pool: For Bathing or Boating?

When Tucker’s Field became Peasholm Park in 1912, the transformation of the medieval Northstead Estate had truly begun.

Above: The early days of Peasholm Park (source)

This muddy patch of farmland, and the neighbouring Rawling’s field were both eventually purchased by The Scarborough Corporation in the 1920s, eager to build on their Peasholm Park success by developing a tourist haven in and around Scarborough’s North Bay.

Above: Some of the original North Bay attractions, including the doomed pier (source)

Away from the grand hotels and seaside amusements of the South Bay, the North Bay was already becoming a draw for visitors, with multiple gardens, a short-lived pier and a revolving viewing tower. The new bathing pool, however, which opened in 1938 on the former Rawling’s Field site, was more successful, and endured for nearly seventy years under a variety of names, including Waterscene and Atlantis.

Above: Atlantis was worlds away from the humble North Bay Bathing Pool (source)

Although the North Bay Bathing Pool opened for bathers in 1938 – it operated for several years before this as a pool for tiny ‘speedboats’ – a somewhat exaggerated description given in various sources, given that both boats and pool were too small to allow for any excessive speeding.

motor boat pool

Above: Here, more aptly named as the ‘Motor Boat Pool’ (from the author’s collection)

This boating pool or pond (as it was sometimes referred to) opened in 1935, and allowed riders to step aboard miniscule two-person motor boats for a jaunty circular trip. The idea seems somewhat humorous now – indeed, this lasted less than three years before the boats were transferred to the more ample boating lake in nearby Northstead Manor Gardens. Then the swimmers moved in.

Above: There was plenty of space for the boats at Manor Gardens (source)

Before the boating (and eventual bathing) pool was built, out of service fishing vessels were frequently left on the site, either to be fixed and returned to their seafaring duties, or to be left to rot, alongside other unwanted items. In a continuation of this tradition Scarborough’s own Hispaniola spent a period ‘moored’ here, next to Water Splash World (later Atlantis) after its banishment from the Mere in 1993. Now it sails once more, along the South Bay.

Above: The Hispaniola did not remain ‘dumped’ for long (source)

The land had further uses during the early 1900s – travelling circuses would pitch up and perform there. There are also rumours of an archery range, where champion archers such as Jack Flinton would compete during the summer months. Possibly. Other sources suggest that the archery was a summer activity for novices. Perhaps there was a bit of both. If indeed it happened here, on the site of the future bathing pool.

Above: Scarborough archer Jack Flinton at a Lancaster tournament – second from right (source)

Either way, this former field (once owned by the Rawling family) and small part of the former Northstead Estate has hosted plenty of ‘fun’ since the early 1900s. From bows and arrows to miniature boats; from circus tents to water slides. And, today, military-themed adventures.

Above: One of the old bathing pool buildings in the Military Adventure Park – top right (source)

Memories of the swimming pool(s) will inevitably endure – after all, there was a pool of some sort on the site from 1935 until 2007 – over seventy years in total. Although the slides and majority of the buildings were eventually demolished, remnants of the original 1930s structure still remain. But for how much longer?

Above: One of the original gates from the 1938 bathing pool (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Sources

All new information in this post (see highlighted links for existing sources/information) has been retrieved from old newspaper clippings held at the  Scarborough Room at Scarborough Library. Most were from the Scarborough News (various dates), others from unnamed publications.

Please read the disclaimer to find out this project’s policies on sourcing and copyright issues.

Scarborough at The Museum of Water?

This is the ninth in a series of posts about artistic responses to Scarborough and its former attractions.

For the others, click here.

Just over a week ago I visited The Museum of Water at Somerset House in London – a temporary exhibition that features a long-term collection of water samples gathered by artist Amy Sharrocks and her team. You can find more about the museum by visiting its website, and I’ve also written a review of it here.

Above: Part of the Museum collection (source)

The basic premise of the museum surrounds re-discovering the importance and significance of water, achieved by encouraging members of the public to donate their own samples.

Above: Some of the submissions (source)

Water is a central theme in Stories From Scarborough; not just in terms of the town’s proximity to the sea, but also the role of water in its former attractions.

The murky Mere water the Hispaniola sailed through.

The blue waters of Atlantis.

The splash encountered on the water chute.

Or the Manor Gardens water – an ideal breeding ground for great crested newts.

Landscapes and their materials are imbued with memories, and water is a poignant example of this.

Above: The Manor Gardens Boating Lake – full of memories? (source)

I thought it would be great to see Scarborough represented in the Museum of Water – during my visit I made a pledge to donate some, and last week, after visiting the town for an interview, I perched on rocks on the south side – just past the Spa and near to the former open air swimming pool site – and let the sea gently wash over my hands as I filled a tiny bottle.

Above: The approximate location of the sample – minus the high tide I encountered (source)

The tide was coming in, and the waves started to pound against the rocks, splashing my boots and showering me with spray. My bottle – once containing mouthwash – refused to discard the smell of its former contents. No matter how many times I thrust it into the salty water, it still emerged with a minty aroma at the neck.

Above: Scarborough water – in a mouthwash bottle (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Eventually I conceded that whilst the smell might contain a hint of mouthwash, the water I’d collected still represented Scarborough. I was inspired to collect some sand and seaweed too, although had to discard the latter eventually due to the pungent smell.

Above: The reverse of my water sample – with an explanation for the minty smell! (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Both sand and water later became a part of this performance in Salford, enabling me to effectively bring Scarborough to a city 100 miles away – both symbolically and in terms of materials. Now it is time to donate the remaining water to the museum, and along with it, a small piece of Stories From Scarborough..

Above: Using the Scarborough water in a performance (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Romantic as all this sounds, you might still be wondering how, exactly, any of this truly relates to the former attractions investigated here. Well. Firstly, seawater, like sand, is part of the language of the seaside – it references Scarborough more generally as a setting for the attractions.

Above: The Hispaniola now sails on the sea – another relevant link (Copyright: Stories From Scarborough)

Secondly, this water offers a starting point – for new ways in which to consider the attractions. Whilst I cannot collect water from Atlantis, Water Splash World, Waterscene or the North Bay Bathing Pool, I can collect it from elsewhere – the Manor Gardens Lake; the Mere, puddles on various former sites. All could potentially hold memories of the attractions.

Above: The Mere today – but does it ‘remember’ the Hispaniola? (source)

The landscape arguably retains memories of its histories – these might be physical (erosion, dereliction, remains of structures etc) or, according to some, even spiritual or emotional – sensations or feelings. Either way, the materials of a landscape are evocative, and water is no different. If anything it is the most pervasive vessel of all – every drop has ostensibly been drunk, swam in, washed in by a great number of people. It has travelled to the clouds and back; journeyed far out to sea, across the world and throughout history.

Above: Scarborough’s water has endured many journeys (source)

The water I am donating to the Museum could have come from, or travelled, anywhere. I just happened to pick it up at Scarborough. Some might argue it is not mine to donate. Others might question its relevance or significance. Ultimately the latter is down to us. We choose how and why particular water is important; what it means. It is at the same time both universal and personal, and as such, by acknowledging the stories we tell about it, the Museum of Water celebrates the enormity and diversity of its value.

Please note that there are plenty of historical posts about former attractions coming soon, and I’ve had some brilliant memories emailed to me. However, as I am moving to Scarborough this week there may be delays in posting, especially if I have problems getting internet access when I arrive. Thank you for your patience!

 

Swimming in Scarborough: Battle of the Bathing Pools

Swimmers have always been welcome in Scarborough. Over the years the town has featured numerous pools – outdoor and indoor included. The North Bay Bathing Pool (which later became Waterscene, Water Splash World, and then Atlantis) has already been mentioned here.

Above: The early days of the North Bay Bathing Pool (source)

Following its creation in 1938, the North Bay Bathing Pool played second fiddle to the better known and older South Bay Pool – a large seawater pool located near the Spa.

Above: The South Bay Pool (source)

Built in 1915, this pool was once a glamorous hotspot complete with diving boards, swimming exhibitions and competitions.

Above: The pool featured on a 1920s rail poster (source)

The pool was also designed to function as a wave barrier, and was subject to the tempestuous moods of the sea. It opened in July 1915 not long after WWI began, and less than a year after Scarborough was attacked by German forces on December 16th, 1914.

Above: The attack on Scarborough was later used to encourage men to enlist (source)

Below: The new pool (source)

Designed by borough engineer Harry W. Smith, the pool measured 330ft by 165ft in size and featured a 32ft high diving board – it was once the largest outdoor pool in Europe. Audiences were treated to a variety of shows, exhibitions and events featuring swimming, diving and aquatic displays.

southbay

Above: South Bay Pool in 1922 (from the author’s personal collection)

In 1935 audience seating capacity was increased, diving boards and changing rooms were added and fountains were created for children. However, only three years later the pool had a new rival, albeit a smaller one. The North Bay Bathing Pool, which opened in 1938 measured 250ft by 60ft, was located not far from the quieter North Sands.

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Above: North Bay Bathing Pool (source)

This second, smaller pool played a key role in enticing visitors to visit Scarborough’s North Bay, which was rapidly establishing a formidable array of new attractions. Both pools were, at various points, used by Scarborough Swimming Club.

However, in the 1980s, the North Bay Bathing Pool was given a dramatic makeover that would see it take the edge in the competition of the outdoor pools. It reopened in 1984 as Waterscene, boasting the longest water chute in the world. Subsequent re-developments modernised the pool, and the new slides and themed areas were a success in attracting tourists, especially children.

1990s2

Above: An aerial view of the newly developed North Bay Pool, photographed by Michael Jaconelli (image sourced from here)

The South Bay Pool, after a heyday particularly notable in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, remained popular with visitors, but for numerous reasons (viability, local politics and problems with upkeep are all cited to varying degrees) closed in 1988. The structure stood for fifteen more years, becoming flooded and derelict until the area was finally demolished in 2003. After being filled in, the pool is now the site of a star map.

You can see a picture of the site today by clicking here. Tiny lights show star positions at night, and there is an information board also.

Whilst the North Bay Bathing Pool appears to have emerged victorious in the bathing pool battle (in terms of longevity at least), its days too were numbered. Following two rebrandings (first to Water Splash World, then to Atlantis), the pool eventually suffered the fate of many outdoor UK pools – it closed in 2007, and was subsequently demolished. It is now the site of the Military Adventure Park.

Above: The Military Adventure Park (source)

Holidaymakers can now easily visit affordable resorts abroad that boast not only extensive water parks, but also guarantees of hot sunny weather to complement the experience. Years ago visitors had fewer options, and towns such as Scarborough reaped the benefits.

nbbp2

Above: North Bay Bathing Pool postcard (from the author’s personal collection)

Scarborough still has an indoor pool, and many still swim in the sea. However, it is easy to forget that swimming events and exhibitions once took place across the town, from the underground pool at Gala Land, to Peasholme Park Lake and the boating lake near the Open Air Theatre. There was also Bland’s Cliff Swimming baths (now Coney Island Amusements).

Although most of the aforementioned pools are long gone, swimmers (and paddlers!) will always be drawn to the oldest pool of all – the sea itself.

Do you remember any of the swimming pools mentioned? Or perhaps you know of others? Please contribute comments, corrections, or any information below.

Sources

Scarborough Swimming Club History Page

Summarised History Page

Flickr account

David’s account

Lizz Tuckerman’s Page