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.


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.

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.


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.


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.