Victoria Park Swimming Pool [1957-2013] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Victoria Park Swimming Pool [1957-2013]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
1957-10-01
Date Place demolished: 
2013-09-01

Photos that show this place

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Hi there,

From the LCSD page the swimming pool was also opened in October 1957.

Best Regards,

T

Hong Kong's first public swimming closes in a couple of days:

    The old swimming pool at Victoria Park, the first ever public swimming pool in Hong Kong, will cease operation after its last day of service on September 1. The new Victoria Park swimming pool complex will be commissioned on September 16 to take over the mission of serving the public. 

     A spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) said today (August 28) that to mark the closure of the old swimming pool, the Department would hold two open days on September 2 and 3, from 9am to 9pm, to provide opportunities for interested members of the public to take photos and walk down memory lane at the old pool.

     On the two open days most of the facilities of the old pool will be open for public viewing, including the entrance hall, changing rooms, spectator stand, part of the main pool areas and the first aid post, the spokesman added....

Opening in 1957, the old Victoria Park Swimming Pool was built with funds donated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and managed by the former Urban Council. It was officially unveiled by the then Governor, Sir Alexander Grantham, on October 16, 1957. The grand opening ceremony, featuring life-saving demonstrations, fancy diving shows and police band performances, was attended by hundreds of guests as well as over 2 000 students.
 
     The old pool was built to host swimming competitions as well as for community use. When it opened the admission charge was 50 cents for adults and 30 cents for children under 14 years old. 

     The old pool was built to the international standards of the 1950s. The main pool measured 50 metres by 20 metres with a deep zone of five metres for platform diving. The diving platform was also up to the then prevailing Olympic standards. The pool could also be used for hosting international water polo matches and the spectator stand could accommodate 1 700 people....

In recognition of the public's wish to preserve the memory of the old swimming pool where practicable, the LCSD has identified some items of historical significance and characteristics at the old pool, including the plaque unveiled by Sir Alexander and the stonework of the low wall facing the public entrance. The department is exploring the possibility of displaying some of these items at appropriate locations within the Victoria Park for commemoration purposes. In addition, it will make use of 3D laser scanning technology to produce a full record of the architectural design of the old pool.

http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201308/28/P201308280518.htm 

The architect on this project was David W McDonald. He became Principal Architect and later rose to Director of Public Works Department. This position became Director of Crown Lands. Mr.McDonald designed several buildings in Hong Kong including the Car Park buildings which became a 'standard' at Middle Road, the one near the Shun Tak Centre and opposite the Bank of America Tower in Central.

The first public swimming pool was actually just off the Praya, not far from City Hall, and opened on November 1, 1866. It was there until the end of the century, and was open to the public all day, being free for local students before midday. The YMCA on Bridges Street, opened in 1918 with an indoor pool, but I'm not sure if it qualified as 'public'.

Hi Adam,

The China Mail's editorial for 19 Sep 1892 suggests that "open to the public" still excluded most of Hong Kong:

...

To those who do not feel a sufficient interest in Aquatics to care much whether proper facilities for this form of healthy exercise exist or not, the subject may appear to be one in which neither the government nor the public are called upon to interest themselves, and which ought to be left entirely to the members of the Victoria Recreation Club. It must be remembered, however, that hitherto this small enclosure near Murray Wharf has been the only thing in the shape of a public path of which the colony could boast. It has always been as much open to the public as any institution that could be called a "public bath" could prudently be made in this colony, in as much as it might be said to be accessible to any respectable member of the non-Asiatic population on payment of the very moderate fee of $10 per annum.

...

That's the only note I've read about it though. Have you seen others that give more detail about who was allowed to swim there?

Regards, David

Hi David,

There's a letter, appparently from an Indian writer, bemoaning the admission policy in the March 17, 1870 edition of the Daily Press. More substantial articles on the pool itself can be found in the June 6 (planning) and October 26 (pre-opening) editions of the Daily Press for 1866. 

regards,

Adam

Thanks Adam, I've made a new page for the 1866 swimming bath at http://gwulo.com/node/17201

Regards, David