Banbury Open Air Pool [CLOSED in 2002]

When open this Olympic-length 50 m heated outdoor swimming pool also had flumes, slides and diving boards.

Opened on 23 May 1939; £7,900 was raised for building the pool, buildings and a complete layout. With its capacity of 356,000 gallons, the new 1939 pool, together with its surrounding complex, involved 23 contractors and sub contractors, using firms such as the London Brick Company and regional bodies such as Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire Power Company.

In 1999 to mark the 60th birthday of the Banbury Open Air Pool, a record turnout of nearly 1500 people visited over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Closed 2002 (last season).

Andy Hoines wrote:
“Did not open in 2004 after problems with the pool’s lining where children cut their feet – this also curtailed the season in previous years. There are long-term plans to convert the outdoor pool into an Olympic-size indoor pool.”

Derrick Knight writes:

Since April 2005 a tough campaign has developed to save the pool led by the Open Air Pool Support Group who have had a long established ‘friends of the pool’ role raising money for equipment and extras for the its various managements. But in April 2005 the rumour spread that Cherwell District Council was about to vote to close the pool and use it for housing. A 10,000 petition was quickly collected and a demo of of some 300 people outside the a key council meeting frightened the CDC into postponing a decision and re-opening a debate. A month later a well attended public meeting faced a panel of councillors and leisure officers and gave them hell. At that time the leader declared that the pool would be closed. ‘That was politics’ he said.

The support group headed up by Michael Hass of gathered momentum and did the research for an illustrated booklet called ‘Hands Up for a New Beginning’ which told the story of mismanagement and offered practical solutions and examples of costs provided by good pool system builders. We drooled over London’s Parliament Hill Lido solution with its shining stainles steel. The newly upgraded Banbury Town Council then decided they wanted to manage the pool if Cherwell DC wanted to get out of it. Copies of our report were given to all their working group together with the leading lights in CDC Leisure and their key councillors. They commissioned a feasability report from a management consultant in Manchester. The local press followed the campaign week by week.

In March 2005 the Cherwell DC Executive did a U-turn and voted the sum of £500,000 towards the refurbishing and more, if necessary, provided a workable business plan was tabled. We are cautious of this change of heart because it came conveniently close to local elections in May 2005. However we were already some way down that road and were working on a proposal for a new Community Initiative Company. We brought together all the users of the pool at Woodgreen and its dryside users in the adjoining community centre – the swimmers, canoeists, triathlonists, runners, womens and health groups, Old Time Dancers, etc. who have agreed in principle to work together in the future. Our aim would be to set up a CIC with local founder members and local business names, form a board, negotiate a contract with the owner councils and hire a committed professional team to run it. The company supporters would help in raising funds, ensuring good publicity and helping where possible. We are at a pivotal moment in our campaign. Of course we believe very fiercely that Banbury, an expanding and prosperous town with pockets of deprivation needs its big pool for young and old.

April 2006: “If we succeed in negotiating to manage the pool and its leisure centre annexe, we will have turned ourselves into a CIC, a Community Initiative Company.”

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