Harrow County School for Boys

School Swimming Pool, 1969/70/71

This photograph was sent in by Edward Kerr (see below).

Edward Kerr writes:

The scene is (of course) the old swimming pool, with the door open onto the school field.  There appear to be tents on the field, which suggests that the photo was taken during one of the annual Scout Group Camps on the School Field.  This would place it at early-September in about 1969, 1970 or 1971.

The centre of interest is not the canoeist (the author), but the old and long-demolished buildings and diving boards.

The buildings housed (from left to right) the Masters' changing room (just out of shot in this photo), the boys' changing room and (on the right of the entry passage) the school tuck shop.  The boys' changing room (a dank, gloomy and depressing affair) housed the most decrepit apology for a shower that I have ever seen - it was located just behind the right hand window in the photo (the one next to the drainpipe) and never worked during my time at HCS.  The tuck shop must have been infested by vermin and how the Wagon Wheels survived, I really do not know.

The diving boards were something else !!  They comprised one springboard and three fixed diving boards.  The springboard can just be seen on the extreme left of the photo (look carefully just above the second step of the ladder).  It could be swivelled back so as to rest on the changing room roof.

To say that the diving boards were unsafe is the understatement of the century.  There was a "deep end" of sorts, but nowhere near deep enough to support the fixed diving boards.  The diving area occupied a comparatively short length of the pool and there was then quite a steep incline in the bottom of the swimming pool to bring the depth up to around six feet.  The result was that, diving off the springboard, you could easily dive so far down the pool that you arrived on the incline  -  you were effectively diving off a springboard into around seven feet of water  -  ouch !!  How there were not more accidents is amazing.  These days, Health & Safety Inspectors would have a field day.

The diving board superstructure was painted a wonderful shade of battleship grey  -  presumably liberated from the CCF Navy Section.

The pool was, of course, unheated.  This meant that it would lie derelict for most of the year and would be cleaned and filled during the Whitsun half-term holiday. It then remained in use for the remainder of the school summer term and, possibly, the first few weeks of the autumn term  -  not exactly an efficient way of running a swimming pool.

However, HCS was the only school in Harrow to have its own swimming pool and, when it was in use, it was wonderful.  In addition to the scheduled class sessions, there were additional sessions after school, which were run by volunteer Masters (quite often Harry Mees).  It was during my second year (summer 1962) that I learnt to swim during these after school sessions, so I have fairly fond memories.

Other schools sometimes used the pool for their galas.  One year, some boys were found on the field looking through some of the many holes in the changing room wall during a Girls' School swimming gala.  I remember that a cordon of prefects was posted as a result of this.

Some folk that were in the 4th Harrow Pioneer Scout Troop around that time may notice a familiar logo on my T-shirt.  The logo is of Camp Mohawk, an American youth camp in Wiltshire, where the Pioneer Troop held Whitsun Camps for several years.

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