‘This pool is the finest for many miles around’ – The Gazette August 1935

The disused swimming pool taken from Google Maps in 1999.

Some of you might remember visiting Deer Leap Swimming Pool, but we were asked recently when did Deer Leap Pool eventually close?  And so, our volunteer, Pam spent some time looking through the bound copies of the Gazette at the museum store to find the answer.

We were unfortunately unsuccessful in finding a definite date for the pool’s opening and closure. However, we did find some information and we thought our newsletter might be a great opportunity to share our discoveries. Maybe these will rekindle some of your own memories of Deer Leap Pool which you could share with us.

In the 1930s, outdoor swimming pools in the UK became increasingly popular, with many local councils investing in their construction. These pools were often filled with unheated water and lacked the modern amenities and safety features that are commonplace today. Despite these limitations, they provided a welcome respite particularly from the summer heat, and were enjoyed by many people across the country.

The earliest article we could find in The Gazette about Deer Leap was in August 1935.  It stated that the swimming pool at Ringshall in Ashridge was ‘the latest addition to the various facilities for swimming with which this district is served…and in the course of the next few months the surroundings will see further changes leading to an establishment of a club house of the type so wildly popular in other parts of the country around London’.

The pool was built to designs by Arthur L Hall and was constructed by local labourers with Mr L Bedford of Potten End as the contractor.  The actual pool was described as ‘styled with the best tiles there is, an excellent and unlimited dress accommodation as the bather’s clothes are placed in boxes thus freeing the cubicles for others to use’.

The water was drawn from the suppliers of the Ashridge waterworks company and the system of filtration was the most modern of its time.

The water was regarded as having ‘amazing clearness’, – so clear that one visitor remarked that ‘the bottom of the pool could be seen with the greatest of ease and could be no fear of danger to children as it was possible to see anyone either in or under the water.’

The water was tested at frequent intervals every day and the owners of the pool gloried in the fact that the water was taken for analysis at a laboratory every fortnight.

The pool was hugely popular over perhaps six decades, until in 1991 the owners had their planning approval to expand and build further facilities, including squash courts, a sports hall, restaurant and bar, rejected.

We could not find any reference in The Gazette for when Deer Leap Pool officially closed. We can see on Google Maps and more recent photos taken at the pool that it became empty and disused in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2006, Deer Leap was finally replaced with a detached house over the footprint of the pool.

Do you remember visiting Deer Leap Pool? Do you have any photos of it during the time it was opened?  Maybe you have a better idea of when it officially closed? Let us know and we’ll share any memories we receive.


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