22nd May 1895
Jersey’s open-air swimming pool opens
The Jersey Times described the opening of the outdoor swimming pool at Greve d’Azette as “one of the most brilliant functions witnessed in our island for some time past”, and a “red letter day not merely in the history of the Jersey Swimming Club, but in that of the Island itself”.
The club had been formed 30 years earlier after two boys had drowned at Havre-des-Pas because none of the onlookers who had watched them die from the beach had been able to swim out and save them.
A budget option
The club grew quickly, and three decades later – when it had more than 750 members – it started work on plans for a permanent bathing place close to St Helier. Previous efforts had fallen through, largely because they had been too ambitious and thus too expensive, but this time the cost was capped at around £3000.
The Lieutenant-Governor, E Hopton, opened the Havre-des-Pas facility at half past three in the afternoon in front of an audience of several hundred. Rather unfortunately, half three was high tide and the pool was entirely submerged throughout the event, but masts had been erected around its perimeter and hung with bunting to outline where it lay. Below the water, the pool was 9ft at its deepest point, with walls an average of 12ft tall and 7ft thick for an overall capacity of around two and a half million gallons of water.
Its reputation spreads
The pool was still attracting favourable reviews in 1932. Promoting Jersey as a holiday destination, the Birmingham Gazette wrote that, “an ideal rendezvous will be found in the Jersey Swimming Club’s Pool at Havre-des-Pas. Equipped with everything the bather can desire, its facilities include a delightfully situated terrace for sun-bathing. No matter from whence the visitor may come he or she is assured of a hearty welcome here for the real holiday spirit always prevails.”
Although interest in it waned through the middle part of the 20th century, it was renovated in the mid-1990s, to bring it back up to standard.
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