Swimming Pool

Historic Chagford: An exhibition of the history of our swimming pool.

Plans for Chagford Pool 1902

A report in the Western Times, dated 26th May 1902, of a Chagford parish meeting where it was unanimously resolved to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII by providing a recreation ground and a swimming bath.

Mr Thomas Amery offered to give the lower portion of Hoare Hill for this purpose, providing the common rights of the open-field system could be removed.

The open-field system is a historic peculiarity of Chagford which gave rights for commoners and parishioners to use certain fields between August and November for grazing animals or for leisure purposes.

Such permission needed an act of Parliament, with permission being granted by the Charity Commissioners and The Board of Agriculture. We do not have a record of the outcome, suffice it to say that the pool and sports ground were never built!

An extract from the Charity Commissioners 6th Nov 1906

An inquiry was held at Chagford on the 23rd Aug 1903 by Mr H Bowyear an assistant Charity Commissioner. It was found that rights of common were, and had been for a long time exercised by all the inhabitants of Chagford from 6th Aug to 6th Nov yearly. However, owners of the adjoining lands claimed such rights exclusively as appurtenant to these lands and objected to the proposal. In consequence of Mr Bowyears report the Charity Commissioners informed the Parish Council (Dec 1904) that their jurisdiction did not extend to rights claimed by private persons as matters of private property and not as part of the benefit to be received from a Charity. The matter was not further proceeded with.

Chagford plans a pool 1932

Extracts from a report in the Western Times dated 22nd July 1932

Mr G.C.Hayter-Hames offered land opposite Rushford Mill cottages for the construction of a pool. This followed a report that things were becoming very unsatisfactory as bathing was being carried out on various parts of the river and damage was being caused by people trespassing. In Sept 1932 a letter was read from Mr G.C.Hayter-Hames (later Sir George) that he was prepared to invest money into a new swimming pool providing that voluntary labour carried out the excavation. He considered the initial cost to be £50 ~ £100.

Pool completed 1933, opening ceremony in July.

On the 14th July 1933 the Western Times reported that “Chagford now had the second largest pool in the County and not one farthing of its cost had fallen on the rate-payer.” A committee had been formed and within ten months the new pool was ready, it being 120 ft long and 60 ft wide. The water from the mill leat close by had been diverted and the necessar y sluices added.

A large crowd was present for the opening ceremony, despite the showery weather. Members from Torquay, Oddicombe and Okehampton swimming clubs gave a display of swimming and diving. No date was given for this opening ceremony but we may conclude that as the Western Times was a weekly paper, the probable date would have been Saturday 8th July 1933.

Swimming Gala August 1939

Diving display using the newly fitted steel framed diving boards.

A swimming gala was watched by a large crowd in very favourable weather. An exhibition of swimming and diving was given by the Misses A. and M. Weeks and Mr F. P. Moon of the Torquay swimming club.

One unusual challenge was diving for plates where 24 plates were placed at the bottom of the pool with the object of retrieving the most plates in a given time. The winner was recorded as Heaton- Smith with twenty plates and W. Fitzpatrick as second with nineteen.

Bad weather, War and Concrete, 1939

The Annual General Meeting reported that 1,110 tickets had been issued which was below average, but the season had bad weather and the war crisis in September had contributed to this shortfall.

Swimming Tests, 1941

In swimming tests given by the County organiser of physical culture on August 25th, all entrants from Chagford Junior School were successful. Sheila Elstone, John Hill and Mary Yardley passed the proficiency test, and Barbara Aplin, Marjorie Denham, Jean Endacott and Jean Lyddon passed the beginners test.

A contract sum of £59 10s for concreting half of the bottom of the pool (the shallow end) from Charles Stone and Sons had been accepted. The deep end would remain a mud bottom until the 1960’s. This left the pool with a debt of £3 7s. 1d but a whist drive organised for the following month should clear this deficit.