This blogpost is by Rose and June, Friends of Rowntree Park and local residents for many years. They remember the swimming pool in the park as being an important part of growing up in York. We welcome more contributions from people who remember the park – and from people who use the park now.
We both spent our childhoods in York in the fifties and early sixties. Like many York children, Rowntree Park was where we could go to play on the swings, roundabout, seesaw and, in the warmer months, we could go to Rowntree Park swimming pool. The play equipment was where the table tennis tables now stand and the swimming pool was where the car park is. [It closed in the 1980s, I think]
Looking back, we realize we have different standards of health, safety and comfort nowadays. The play equipment stood on a concrete floor. What happened if you hurt yourself? We can’t recall but I doubt if the council was blamed.
The entrance to the open-air swimming pool was at the north end. A lady took your money and gave you a ticket. Then you went to a cubicle to change. Males went to the right of the pool, females to the left but the cubicles didn’t have keys. We think you could bolt them from the inside but, as you simply left your clothes in them along with other people’s on a busy day, you had to trust no one would steal your belongings. Probably the lady at the till would look after valuables. An amendment to the sign telling females to wear bathing caps was made when males started to have long hair. Now it read “..females and males with long hair.”
There was a terrace up a flight of steps which surrounded the pool. On a sunny day you could sunbathe in some discomfort as this surface was also concrete. The water was unheated and we can remember hovering at the edge of the pool knowing that the first few seconds would be a challenge. At the deep end were springboards. The steps up to the high one were wooden and could become slippery but we can’t recall protests about this – though people did sometimes hurt themselves.
I (Rose) learnt to swim there as did many other York children. It was the one sport I was a success at and I represented our school, Mill Mount Grammar School For Girls (where we met each other in the first form), at the swimming gala.
We agree that it would be good to have a swimming pool in Rowntree Park again, though this time with less slippery steps up to the diving board….
We knew that the wildlife pond was going into an area of the park that had been used as a dump. After about 20cm of top soil, we were into a layer of dumped domestic debris – bottles, jars, bits of twisted metal, part of a doll’s face, even a chunk of hymn book. Most of this is clearly of 20th century date, and we’re hoping that local people will be able to tell us their memories of some of the evocative-sounding brands.
A lot of the debris were glass bottles and jars, many of which were at least complete enough to see what they had been used for. The brands discovered are from local firms from York, Selby and Hull, as well as more well-known firms such as Heinz.
The first post to try out this blog is about our wonderful NEW BOOK!
Stories, memories and copious photos about the history of Rowntree Park, from the beginnings right up to the current day. Written by Chris and John Dowell, based on their research, and on interviews with many park-users. Available at the Pig and Pastry (Bishopthorpe Road) or from Naomi Whittaker, 104 Bishopthorpe Road, York YO23 1JX (635278) firstname.lastname@example.org
£12 per copy. Only £10 per copy for members of Friends of Rowntree Park (via Naomi only) – yet another good reason to join the Friends! (£2 postage and package, if required)