Nothing beats wading into a cool swimming pool on a hot summer day. The overflowing joy, the refreshing submersion, the heat gently rippling away. Now imagine waiting 18 years for that.
The idea of a pool in Camden was introduced by Albert Baker in 1946. A barber originally from Bondi, Baker understood the refreshing qualities of cool water in a hot Australian summer, and was particularly enthusiastic about safe swimming. After moving to the area he became a member of Council and proposed the pool at a meeting in November. He was a lone voice, with others at the meeting declaring that generations had swam in the Nepean River and saw no reason for that to change (Shaw, 1998).
Although discouraged by the disinterest, Baker did what he could to encourage safe swimming in the area. He devoted considerable time to The Camden District Amateur Swimming Club (CDASC). The most notable activity was a ‘learn-to-swim’ sessions organised by Baker with the NSW Amateur Swimming Association (NSW ASA) in the mid 1950s. The letters between Baker and the NSW ASA are stored in the local studies collection. Originally planned to occur over two weekends, the classes were extended due the the overwhelming interest from the community (“Learn to swim” classes extended, 1956).
More support for the pool came in 1949. A.G. Gibson, chairman of the CDASC in 1946 and editor of The Camden Advertiser, initiated fundraising for the pool, raising over £800. The estimate cost for the pool in 1949 was £13,850 (The Camden Advertiser, 1949).
An additional boost came in 1955 when there was talk of Campbelltown Council establishing a pool. Camden Mayor, Alderman Cruikshank, led a public meeting with the intention of dealing with the proposal of Camden pool. An industry representative gave figures for the cost, ranging from £4,700 to £12,400. Unlike nine years earlier, this time the proposal was met with unanimous support. The seed Baker sowed had germinated.
It would be another nine years before the pool was completed. On a Saturday afternoon in 1964, in front of a large crowd of eager citizens, Camden and District War Memorial Olympic Swimming Pool in Onslow Park was officially opened. The funds raised for the pool came to £16,500.
Now known as Camden War Memorial Pool, it has enjoyed great success and has undergone several developments, including a pergola installed in the 1990 to provide children with a shady spot in between dips (Shade for toddlers, 1990) and a full refurbishment between 2010 & 2011(Clough, 2011), including calls for it to be heated during the winter (Ward, 2010). Whatever changes and programs are run in the future, it is sure residents will enjoy the refreshing, invigorating hydration the pool provides for years to come.
Clough, D. (11.10.11). Swimmers warm to revamped pool. Macarthur Chronicle.
n.a. (1.12.1949). Swimming pool for £13,850. The Camden Advertiser.
n.a. (20.12.1956). “Learn to swim” classes extended. Camden News.
n.a. (28.11.1990). Shade for toddlers. Camden Advertiser.
Shaw, R (9.12.1998). How tenacity built town’s public pool. Wollondilly Advertiser.
Ward, M. (2.2.2010). Swimmers turn up heat. Macarthur Chronicle.