A history of Parramatta War Memorial Pool

History in the making: There was much fanfare for the opening of Parramatta War Memorial Pool. Go to parramattasun.com.au to see rare footage from the day.

History in the making: There was much fanfare for the opening of Parramatta War Memorial Pool. Go to parramattasun.com.au to see rare footage from the day.

Almost 60 years of swimming history will go down the gurgler next week.

Flashback: An aerial view of Parramatta War Memorial Pool in the 1970s, next to what was then known as Cumberland Oval. Pictures: Parramatta Council.

Flashback: An aerial view of Parramatta War Memorial Pool in the 1970s, next to what was then known as Cumberland Oval. Pictures: Parramatta Council.

March 31 will be a sad day when Parramatta War Memorial Pool closes.

Its history dates back to the early 1950s, when Granville Pool was overcrowded, Parramatta Lake was closed and Little Coogee was no longer a suitable swimming spot, according to council research services.

Fancy a swim: The community campaigned and fundraised for its own Olympic pool, which opened at its current O'Connell Street site. Picture: Parramatta Council

Fancy a swim: The community campaigned and fundraised for its own Olympic pool, which opened at its current O'Connell Street site. Picture: Parramatta Council

In 1954, Alderman Eric Mobbs suggested the council look into public interest for an Olympic pool in Parramatta. In February 1956, a public meeting voted in favour of the pool.

The council obtained a 50 year lease of six acres of Parramatta Park in 1957. Architect firm Figgis and Jefferson drew the original designs, which catered for everyone from toddlers to experienced swimmers. Construction began in May 1958.

The first stage cost 140,000 pounds. Stage two consisted of teaching and wading pools opened in late 1960 by Granville gold medal Olympic swimmer John Devitt.

Castle Hill parish priest Monsignor John Boyle was growing up in Parramatta at the time. He was among the crowd of 5000 at the pool opening on October 24, 1959.

“It was a great step forward for Parramatta,” Monsignor Boyle told the Sun.

Opening of Parramatta War Memorial Pool, courtesy of Parramatta Council

“It was the most exciting day of my childhood. I’ve seen the footage and I can remember sitting behind the ropes, waiting to jump in. The pool was a social setting for us as kids. It was where we met our friends. I went there every day.”

His father Jack Boyle and grandmother Mary Dubois were on the fundraising committee for the pool. Fundraisers included carnivals at Granville, Art Union raffles, donations from businesses and a Queen competition.

“Once the funds were raised, it was full steam ahead,” he said.

Monsignor Boyle continued his frequent pool visits in his time as dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1990s.

“The church was a block away from the pool,” he said.

“It’s devastating the pool is closing. The council has promised to build a new one and I hope that promise is honoured.”

  • Do you have any old photographs or memories of Parrramatta Pool? Email kstevens@fairfaxmedia.com.au.
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