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Brookmans Park Village Day and the school swimming pool

Brookmans Park Primary School swimming pool 1959 Photographer unknown, image taken from the Village Day programme 1960
Brookmans Park Primary School swimming pool 1959
Photographer unknown, image taken from the Village Day programme 1960

In the summer of 1958 work began on the construction of a swimming pool in the grounds of Brookmans Park Primary School

A “stalwart band” of more than 80 “hardworking parents” and staff volunteered to spend their weekends digging, pouring cement and laying bricks to get the job done. 

In May the following year the pool opened. By the end of the summer, 100 local children had been taught to swim.

To help pay for the pool and other facilities for the school, the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) decided to organise a Village Day for the whole community. 

The event, held in June 1959, saw the official opening of the pool. It was so popular that it became an annual event for the community raising money for the PTA and local charities. 

Author Lilian Caras has kindly shared some copies of her Brookmans Park Village Day programmes with this site. We start with the first ever Village Day along with the timetable of events.

The Village Day programme for 1960 reported on the official opening of the swimming pool by Lady Balniel, the wife of the local MP, at the previous year’s event.

The Village Day programme for 1967 set out how the money raised at the event was to be spent. Among the items listed were curtains for the school’s main hall and dining room, sports gear, and a projector and amplifying equipment. 

The Village Day programme for 1968 listed the swimming achievements of pupils at Brookmans Park Primary who had been taught to swim at the school pool. 

The Village Day programme of 1972 included a report on the 21-year history of Brookmans Park Primary School and described it as being a “vital factor in the life of this community”.

The Village Day programme for 2000 included an article setting out how the idea for a swimming pool came about. 

According to the piece the then headmaster, Wilfred Harris, looked out of his office window as the children were heading home for Christmas in 1957. 

Seeing the pupils “wrapped up against the winter chill” his thoughts turned to the summer and he decided the school should have an outdoor swimming pool. 

Local resident Geoff Mills, whose garden backed on to the school grounds, was able to watch the pool being built. He wrote about the work involved and the opening of the pool in the April 1985 issue of the Chancellor’s Community Newsletter. 

Note: There is a typographical error in Geoff’s account regarding the date the work on the pool started and the date it was opened.

Tom Longman wrote about being one of the volunteers who helped excavate and build the pool. His article was published in the September 1985 issue of the newsletter. 

Note: We have reproduced the article below as it was published in 1985 despite it including a term that some, particularly First Nation native Americans, find offensive. We have left the article unedited for historical reasons.

The two articles from the Chancellor’s Community Newsletter (above) have been reproduced with permission of the publisher. 

The pool was still being used for swimming lessons in the 1980s but later, when Peter Evans was headmaster, pupils were sent to Potters Bar pool.

Vivien Arey was a governor at the primary school in the 1990s. She says that during this time the swimming pool was open to the children for lessons and for leisure at weekends and holidays, but, over time, the wooden changing rooms began to deteriorate and the base of the pool required repair. In addition new health and safety regulations came into force, and the governing body voted to close the pool in 1998.

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