Sensational Swimmers and Daring Divers

From the Turkish Baths to the South Bay Pool, Scarborough has long provided visitors with places to swim, bathe and even watch aquatic acrobatics.

South Bay Bathing Pool

Above: The South Bay Pool (source)

The Scarborough Aquarium had its very own subterranean pool, and the North Bay Pool was once compared to a mediterranean paradise, before being transformed into an oasis of slides and fountains.

Waterscene

Above: Waterscene – later Water Splash World and Atlantis, formerly the North Bay Bathing Pool (source)

Nor must the pool at Scarborough Zoo be forgotten, although it is now acknowledged to be less than adequate in size for the dolphins that performed there.

Dolphins at Scarborough Zoo

Above: A dolphin emerges from the pool at Scarborough Marineland and Zoo (source)

Swimming and diving have never been purely recreational – indeed, the South Bay Pool was redeveloped in 1935 to accommodate growing audiences for aquatic shows, and the North Bay Pool opened only a few years later with a grand display of diving and acrobatics.

South Bay Pool

Above: Note the diving board and seating for audiences at the South Bay Pool (source)

Featured in this article are the stories of three exceptional female swimmers, all in some way connected with Scarborough, famed for their mastery of the water and noted for their athleticism.

Miss Gertie Perkin (active late 1800s, early 1900s)

Gertie, short for Gertrude, was a swimming instructor, pier diver and competitive athlete, who performed, taught and competed at the beginning of the twentieth century. She is described in the Yorkshire Evening Post as follows:

…a well-known expert and instructress in swimming and physical culture. Miss Perkins holds the Royal Humane Society’s certificate and medal for “life-saving” efficiency and will also be recollected as one of the chief competitors in the All-England Beauty Contest.

(from The Yorkshire Evening Post, Friday November 23, 1904)

Before the North Bay Pier tragically succombed to a storm in 1905, Gertie was pictured diving from the structure, into the turbulent North Sea.

pier

Indeed, pier diving was a form of entertainment during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and saw a range of brave (or foolhardy, depending on your opinion!) men and women perform dives from ornamental piers across the country.

North Bay Pier

Above: The North Bay Pier prior to destruction (source)

Gertie competed in swimming contests and provided displays of ornamental aquatic displays for venues across Yorkshire and the North West. She also made glowing endorsements for a cream called Zam-Buk:

I have found Zam-Buk very efficacious for a chafed skin. When the ZamBuk arrived I was in despair about my face. I have an exceedingly fine skin, and the recent wins played havoc with my face. The skin all dried and I looked a pitiable object. I had tried about half a dozen creams, but had derived no benefit. I applied Zam-Buk to the affected parts, and much to my surprise, i found my skin quite smooth the following morning. So I think I have discovered a boon in Zam-Buk, as I could not find anything to produce the same good effect until I used Zam-Bu. When I have had an engagement for pier-diving at seaside places the effect of the salt water on my skin has smites been maddening. I now known that Zam-Buk will be a remedy for this. After the benefits I have derived from Zam-Buk I shall be pleased to recommend it to my physical culture and swimming pupils, as well as to my friends generally.

(Gertie Perkin, quoted in The Yorkshire Evening Post, Friday November 23, 1904)

It has been difficult to locate sources about Gertie or her life, but it’d be fascinating to know more about her pier dive at Scarborough.

Ada Webb (active late 1800s, early 1900s)

Miss Ada Webb has already been mentioned here at Stories From Scarborough, for having performed at the Scarborough Aquarium in the late 1800s. Like her sister Louie, Ada was a renowned natator (another name for a swimmer), champion diver and able to perform all kinds of feats underwater, including eating, drinking, and, supposedly, smoking.

Miss Webb attracted many grand titles, including ‘Empress of the Sea ’ (after Britannia), ‘Champion Lady High Diver of the World’ (following her impressive diving from heights of up to 56 feet) and ‘Queen of the Crystal Tank’ (after her customised performance space).

A report described how she ‘rescued’ a number of ladies who were apparently in danger of drowning at Bromley Swimming Baths. Apparently such rescue feats were commonly used as publicity by professional swimmers, divers and aquatic acrobats at the time, making it difficult separating fact from fiction.

misswebb

Ada performed across the country – she opened Latchmere Road Baths in 1899 and regularly appeared at London venues.

You can see an advert for one of her performances by clicking here.

However, professional swimming and aquatic performances were a young person’s domain, and, as her own prowesses diminished,  Ada began to comandeer her own group of performing lady swimmers, and became a successful manager. Ornamental swimming of this sort peaked in popularity between the late 1800s and 1910s, although aquatic feats of endurance and acrobatics continued to draw audiences well into the twentieth century.

Eileen Fenton (1928 – present)

Eileen Fenton, a Religious Studies teacher from Dewsbury, is perhaps the most remarkable of all three ladies mentioned here, given her incredible achievement of swimming the English Channel in 1950, at the age of just 22.

On the Stories From Scarborough Facebook Page, John remembers her training for the event:

Remember when Fenton was the superintendent there and his daughter Eileen trained morning and evening for a cross channel swim.

Interestingly enought, the first swimmer to make the 22 mile crossing was Captain Matthew Webb, who also famously swam for 74 hours in Scarborough Aquarium’s pool in 1880. After Webb’s successful Channel swim in 1875, only nineteen swimmers had successfully made the crossing between then and 1950, when Eileen entered a new competition, organised by the Daily Mail, to complete the feat.

At first the competition organisers were doubtful of her suitability to participate. Reportedly a slim lady of only 5ft tall, she was deemed ‘too small’ although eventually proved her ability by swimming across Scarborough Harbour in temperatures close to freezing. She later swam for up to ten hours at a time in the town’s North Sea, in order to build up her endurance and tolerence for the cold.

Of the Channel swim, Eileen made the following comments:

It was pitch black and very cold. We could see nothing but the light on the boat we needed to follow. When I got to nine hours I could see Dover harbour, but my arm stopped working and I had to do a front crawl with one hand. I was too weak to get over the tide and I was pushed back by the current. It took me over six hours.

(Quoted in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 19 August, 2010)

Only nine out of twenty four competitors finished the race, and Eileen was one of them. Not only that, but as first lady, she received a huge prize of £1000, then enought to purchase a small house!

You can watch a video interview with Eileen here, and see footage of the rapturous reception she recieved when returning home here.

She remarked that after the freezing cold waters of Scarborough’s North Sea, the Channel waters were pleasantly mild! Eileen later went on to train a number of Channel swimmers and recieved a number of awards for her winning 1950 performance.

Do you know any more about these inspiring ladies? Or do you have any stories about swimming or swimmers in Scarborough? Any comments and/or corrections welcome!

Sources

Gertie Perkins

Yorkshire Evening Post – various articles

Lancashire Daily Post – various articles

Ada Webb

British Sporting Legacies

Latchmere Road Baths reference

Louie Webb

Eileen Fenton

Huddersfield Daily Examiner

My Yorkshire

Video of Eileen Fenton

British Pathe – video

Open Water Swimming Article

A Little North Bay History

As previously mentioned here on the website, Peasholm Park, the North Bay Bathing Pool, and much of the surrounding land, were once all part of the large Northstead Estate.

North Bay Bathing Pool

Above: The former North Bay Bathing Pool (source)

The roads, landscaped gardens and footpaths of today were once fields accommodating livestock.

One – upon which the North Bay Bathing Pool was later built – was known as Rawling’s Field. You can read more about it here, including an account by Mr Rawling’s great grandson.

The other, where Peasholm Park now stands, was referred to as Tucker’s Field. Andrew, great grandson of Mr Tucker himself, was kind enough to share some more details about this area’s pre-Peasholm Park history:

A little about peasholm Park and Tuckers field. My Great grandfather John Tucker of Tennyson avenue used to rent the land known as Tuckers field . He kept livestock and chickens there . Also family stories tell that he used to charge people to ice skate on the lake that formed in the winter when he dammed the small stream. There is a link here to a report about a theft from his land in 1907 which predates SBC buying the land .

The story describes two men –  Thomas E Luntley and Joseph Lindsay – being charged with stealing six ‘fowls’ from Mr Tucker. Luntley denied theft but admitted helping to take the birds away, apparently being drunk at the time.

Lindsay too blamed intoxication for his actions.

The report also includes a testament by an Inspector Henderson, who describes finding one of the hens concealed under a mattress at Lindsay’s house on Dumple Street, another having been taken away to Quay Street. The remaining birds were apparently thrown into the sea.

According to this source, Dumple Street, where Lindsay lived, historically suffered from a somewhat dubious reputation.

Both of the accused had already accrued multiple convictions in the past, and for their crime were sentenced to several months of hard labour.

However…

…the opportunity to steal livestock would not remain for long – only a few years later the construction of Peasholm Park would transform Tucker’s Field, after the Scarborough Corporation purchased the land.

peasholmcolour

Above: Peasholm Park (from the author’s collection)

Indeed, Scarborough’s landscape has experienced such incredible transformations across the decades – the buying, selling and renting of land; the building, demolishing or abandoning of attraction structures – imagine all the stories that still lie hidden…

Sources

Scarborough News

Also many thanks to Andrew for sharing this story.

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.

 

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!

 

Before The North Bay Bathing Pool: The Northstead Estate

When the North Bay Bathing Pool opened in the summer of 1938, Scarborough’s North Bay was rapidly becoming a haven for holidaymakers.

Above: The North Bay Pool was also known as Scarborough Children’s Lake (source)

Across the road was the relatively new Peasholm Park, initially developed in 1912. Around the corner was a miniature railway, water chute and open air theatre, all part of the new Northstead Manor Gardens, or Pleasure Park, as it was then otherwise known.

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Above: The early days of Northstead Manor Gardens (from the author’s collection)

However, only a few decades earlier, this patch of land had looked very different indeed, nor was it even ‘officially’ part of Scarborough. Part of it was purchased by the Scarborough Corporation in 1911 for the development of Peasholm Park, and the remainder of the estate was bought by the same organisation in 1921. Prior to these transactions, Scarborough legally ‘ended’ at Peasholm Beck.

Above: Bridge over Peasholm Beck, now part of Peasholm Park (source)

There were no adventure playgrounds or water slides here – the land was used for more practical matters before the twentieth century arrived. Piggeries, allotments, farming – thick boggy mud and hard work. All of this seems an antithesis for what was to follow.

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Above: 1913 Northstead, in blue, before it became part of Scarborough, in pink (source)

The area in which the North Bay Bathing Pool later stood was known as Rawling’s Field. Located next to Tucker’s Field (which later became Peasholm Park), the site belonged to a Mr Rawling. A reader kindly contacted Stories From Scarborough to clarify this further:

This was a piece of land owned by my great grandfather’s brother – George Blackett Rawling (1853-1916) – who owned and managed the bathing machines on the North Bay in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  He sold the land to the then Scarborough Corporation for a few shillings (I understand).

Many thanks to Phil for getting in touch with this information, and also for sending an old newspaper article outlining the origins of the pool.

Rawling’s Field and Tucker’s Field once formed part of the sprawling Northstead Estate.

Above: Tucker’s Field, shortly before being developed into Peasholm Park began (source)

The origins of the estate are somewhat murky – some sources suggest that the area was originally named Hatterboard; the Northstead moniker emerging much later. Local friars gained permission to build a priory in the area in 1245, and the land was bestowed upon a series of noblemen before being purchased by King Richard III in the fifteenth century.King Richard reputedly favoured Scarborough and was the last known monarch to stay in the town’s castle.

Above: The earliest known portrait of Richard III (source)

At the centre of the Northstead estate stood a manor house, although few accounts describe it in any great detail:

At the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign ‘the Northstead’ had a ‘parliour,’ an old chamber reached by wooden stairs, and ‘a lowe house under it’ unfit for habitation; Sir Richard Cholmley’s shepherd dwelt in it until it fell down. Adjoining were an old decayed barn and the walls of other houses, which shortly afterwards fell, and an old chapel. Sir Richard Cholmley, lessee of Edward VI, used the timber of these decayed buildings to build ‘an hall house, adjoining it to the said parliour.’

(source)

A survey in 1650 did not record a manor house, with earlier reports suggesting that it may have fallen into disrepair. However, in spite of the lack of historical records, the construction of Peasholm Park in 1911 did reveal the remains of medieval buildings of a domestic nature, although little conclusive information could be deducted about their purpose or significance. These ruins were found in the centre of today’s Peasholm Lake.

Above: The lake at Peasholm Park (source)

Although the manor house disappeared long ago, the accompanying position – Stewardship of the Manor (of Northstead) remains an official one, bestowed upon MPs to relieve them of their duties.

Above: A plaque in Peasholm Park acknowledges the stewardship (source)

Northstead has indeed witnessed many transformations; from its early days as a medieval estate to its later manifestations as a magnet for seaside holidaymakers. Peasholm Park in particular is a lasting legacy of the latter, although its early neighbours – the North Bay Bathing Pool and the attractions located in and around the Northstead Manor Gardens, have endured mixed fortunes.

nbbpnight

Above: The North Bay Bathing Pool at night (source)

The opening of the North Bay Bathing Pool in 1938, for instance,  was reputedly a grand affair – with a band and underwater lighting. Likewise its transformation into Waterscene in 1984, featured a visit from holiday camp legend Fred Pontin. The succession of glitzy rebrandings was followed by closure in 2007. As the site fell into disrepair, and the bright blue slides faded, a return to the boggy fields of old was no longer so unlikely. However, the birth of the Military Adventure Park continued the evolution of the area, and new investment (including the redevelopment of the old outdoor theatre, and the updating carried out by the North Bay Railway company) is preserving what was once little more than a muddy field for generations of holidaymakers to come.

It has been difficult to verify some of the information in this post – if you know anything more about Northstead’s history, or have any thoughts or corrections, please comment below.

Sources

English Heritage

British History Online

Pastscape

Scarborough Book of Days

The National Archives

 

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.

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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

The Blue Waters of Atlantis

Atlantis started out as the North Bay Bathing Pool, an outdoor swimming pool that originally opened in July 1938, only minutes away from the North Bay in Scarborough.

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

In 1984 the site was redeveloped and rebranded as Waterscene, and a £500,000 investment gave the pool the (then) longest water chute in the world. Like nearby Marvel’s, which also opened in 1984, the new development was pioneered by businessman Don Robinson, director of Kunick.

Waterscene

Above: Waterscene postcard (source)

The opening was reputedly a grand affair, with Fred Pontin (of Pontins Holiday Camps fame) unveiling a plaque. The pool was apparently the first large scale waterpark in Europe.

Fred Pontin

Above: Fred Pontin (source)

In 1987 the site was sold to Kirkpool Ltd, headed by Tommy Hanson. The name changed to Water Splash World before being resold to Edencorpleisure in the following year. The lease was then bought by Scarborough Council in 1992. The site didn’t became known as Atlantis until 1995.

Water Splash World

Above: Water Splash World (source)

Atlantis, like Water Splash World, was arguably more of a rebranding of the original Waterscene attraction.

Unfortunately my only encounter with Atlantis (and its predecessor Water Splash World) came from the outside. We used to pass it on the way to Peasholme Park, Manor Gardens and Kinderland, and I remember how blue it always looked. I was jealous of the children who got to ride the long winding slides and splash around in the outdoor pool. Even though I never went inside, I’m still curious to know about what it was like, and it remains a vivid part of my Scarborough memories.

The reputation of Atlantis was severely undermined by the death of a swimmer in 2001, and following years of financial difficulties, closed in 2007. The site was later redeveloped into the Military Adventure Park, which continues to operate today.

This blog post is only a short introduction to Atlantis and its history, based on limited sources – more details will be added as the research progresses.

See any mistakes in this post? Want to share any additional information or memories? Please comment below – all contributions are very welcome!

Below are some further sources:

28 Days Later features images of Atlantis and its demolition.
Scarborough Hotel and Tourist Information Blog has a short article about the site.
This video shows Atlantis during its heyday, and this video features the original bathing pool (1950s).
Various articles about the site and its predecessors are available online from Scarborough News.