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Building a Swimming Pool

The Record of an Achievement (1962-65)

A pamphlet originally printed for the Golden Jubilee of St Christopher School, Letchworth (1965)

Now reproduced here in virtual form (with the exception of the appendices).

This is the complete text on a single page, with no photographs, useful for those who might wish to download it as a complete file.

If you are reading it on-line, you may find the page by page version, with photographs, more congenial.

School Meeting

The story may fitly begin (though, as we shall see, the swimming pool project already had some years of history behind it) at a School Meeting early in the Autumn term 1961.

"Minutes of Meeting held Monday October 9th 1961. (5) In Freeman's Business, Mr King Harris informed the School of his plans concerning the building of their own swimming pool during the coming year. The School showed itself, by its loud applause, to be in full agreement with the project, and it was decided that preliminary operations should commence as soon as possible."

This was the Headmaster speaking to a meeting of his Senior School - some 280 boys and girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen - with a pupil Chairman and Secretary, not telling them to turn out and tackle a job, but asking them if they were prepared to do so. Though the technical direction must come from adults, the main burden of the work would clearly fall upon the children themselves. They seized upon the idea with obvious enthusiasm, and within a matter of days a committee consisting of four adults and four pupils had been elected to organise the work.

Parents' Circle

A professionally built pool, which would probably cost between £25,000 and £30,000, was out of the question; even a "do-it-yourself" one would run into several thousands of pounds, and the School's capital resources had been fully committed in the provision of new laboratories and other buildings. Children might, by their own effort, raise some of it, but certainly not the whole sum that would be needed. Everything would depend on the attitude of the parents to the scheme. Parent-teacher friendship and co-operation had been a feature of St Christopher for many years - in fact, the Parents' Circle is one of the oldest in the country, having been started in 1920. Shortly after the School Meeting already described, the Headmaster laid the plan before the parents; he told them that the "Cloisters" pool was no longer available for school use, and that the children were prepared to work hard to build a pool of their own - well over a hundred had already volunteered their labour during spare time in term and in a succession of work camps during the Easter holidays; he was also able to announce that Mr Barnes had offered his professional services as Architect, and Mr Stephen Harris his as Engineer. He envisaged a final cost of not less than £3,000 for the pool, including filtration plant and changing cubicles, and believed that they might hope to complete the job before the end of the Summer term 1962. Parents present at the meeting expressed their warm approval of the scheme, and a sum of £500 was contributed, or promised, before the meeting was adjourned.

The two people whose offers of help made the whole project possible - without whom, indeed, it would have been quite impossible - were the Architect and the Engineer. Mr Barnes, who has had professional responsibility for much of the recent building in the School, undertook the architectural planning of the site and of the changing rooms and building to house the boiler and filtration plant. Responsibility on the engineering side, for the design of the pool structure, the pipework and filter plant, and for their construction, was taken by a Chartered Civil Engineer, Stephen Harris, a former pupil and present parent of the School. It happened that in the previous year he had helped with the construction of a learners' pool, on a self-help basis, in a Cambridgeshire village primary school.

Preliminary planning

Two committees from the body of parents were immediately set up, one for raising funds, the other to plan the work. The Construction Committee included an aeronautical engineer, an electrical installation engineer, a contractor and a civil engineer, apart from the Architect and the Engineer who were to design the pool. The three responsible committees - the two just described and the School's own committee of eight, with the necessary liaison between all three of them - immediately began their regular meetings. During the two and a half years that followed, the Construction Committee held twelve meetings, the Fund Raising Committee more than twenty, and the School Committee met at least fifty times.

The choice of site was not a wide one. The pool must obviously have a sufficiently clear south aspect to get the maximum amount of sunshine, and at the same time be sheltered from the wind. It must cause the minimum disturbance to neighbours. Only one area in the school estate finally commended itself. Fortunately for "public relations", it had long been set aside for the building of a Hall and swimming pool; plans for both of them had been prepared as early as 1937, and copies made available to the local authorities; they were in fact on display in Letchworth in 1943 as part of a town exhibition of post-war building plans. A hole had actually been dug on this site in 1939, and it was not filled in till 1957. Outline planning permission for a swimming pool had been granted in the latter year, so there was fortunately no question of taking the School's neighbours by surprise.

The dimensions of the pool were controlled by the new safety regulations laid down by the Ministry of Education and the Amateur Swimming Association, affecting both depth for diving and width of clearance opposite springboards. The ideal, of course, would be three separate pools, a shallow one for learning, a long one for swimming and a deep one for diving; ours was the most effective compromise between the three that we could devise, providing a shallow section for juniors, six "lanes" side by side for racing, and ample diving clearance made possible by the addition of a diving bay.

Finding materials

The search for materials began. The general principles were to make the School's needs known to parents and friends as widely as possible, to look no gift horse in the mouth, to buy second hand where possible, but never to attempt economy at the expense of quality. The first step was the duplication of a list to be sent to all possible wellwishers of the scheme, of materials, tools and equipment which would be required. It was much too long to be quoted in full here; the list of thirty materials ranged from sand and cement in enormous quantities to 6 cwt. of nails, from ready-mix concrete to builders' string, from paving stones to l½ gross of screws; the forty items in the list of building equipment included one bulldozer and 100 scaffold boards, one carpenter's square and 220 railway sleepers for track making, pumps, wheelbarrows, shovels, hammers, sawing horses and so on.

The response to this appeal was rapid and enormously encouraging. We were lent a bench and a pipe bender for bending reinforced steel; one parent lent a number of shovels, another made the splendid gift of 3,500 bricks. Others did valuable work in seeking out secondhand building material. One enabled the school to buy 220 railway sleepers, weighing 16 tons, to form a track to the site that would stand up to hard usage by heavy lorries, and also made a gift of timber bought from a closed-down railway line in Hampshire. Other offers of loan included a 4-ton lorry, a cement mixer and a tractor; gifts included paving, 500 sheets of Fablon plastic, piping and cement. Through the vigilance of a school parent, three second-hand filtration tanks were bought for the remarkably low price of £45 each (they might each have cost £150 new), and an automatic burner was acquired from a glove factory for £50.

One problem to be faced was that of a suitable "water bar" to be inserted at all joints in the concrete; the Engineer decided to use Poly Vinyl Chloride instead of the customary copper or steel, thus saving something like £200. An old pupil of the School who was Pit Manager of a Yorkshire Colliery offered to supply old Coal Board conveyor belting, which could be sliced into 6 in. strips, at a cost of 12/- per cwt., and a sample was sent to undergo tests at Cambridge. It proved thoroughly satisfactory, and it was joined with Bostick sealing compound.

Concrete and steel

The two most important immediate requirements were clearly concrete and reinforcing steel. A firm from the neighbourhood contracted to deliver ready-mix concrete to the site in loads of 7 (cubic) yards at a time, at a cost of 67/- per yard. Reinforcing steel was obviously going to be expensive, and a search was made for suitable "scrap" metal; but true scrap was found to be unobtainable except in small quantities of bent and short lengths which would take a long time to accumulate and then to process. A happier solution soon presented itself: an old pupil and present parent of the School, working in an engineering firm, discovered an associated firm that would be willing to supply "deformed" bars, or "seconds", of a quarter inch, three-eighths inch, half inch and three quarter inch diameter, at the special price of £30 a ton delivered, as against the normal price of £46 a ton for reinforcing bars. Since over 33,000 ft. of steel would be needed, this represented a most useful saving. The bars would be in random lengths, the deformations being mainly lines or "ribs'" of a nature which prevented sale at full "round bar" prices, but they would be entirely satisfactory for our purpose.

Some 4,000 separate rods, of different diameters and of 44 different lengths between 2 ft. and 20 ft., had to be cut and bent accurately to the shape needed for construction.

A major item in the construction budget was going to be the "form work" or shuttering for holding the concrete. It could be built of wood, on the spot, at an enormous expense of money and labour; but by a piece of great good fortune, money, labour and perhaps another whole year's work by the School were saved when the project came to the notice of an old pupil who was Overseas Manager in the firm of Wimpey's. Wimpey's not only lent the necessary equipment, consisting of more than 19,000 separate parts and worth about £750, for as long as the School might need it: they sent careful instructions about its use, and took a genuine personal interest in the progress of the work. This was much the largest single benefaction among the many that were made, as well as one of the most heartening.

The Cost

The original estimate of £3,000 mentioned at the Parents' Circle meeting, when the project was launched, was a guess based on the experience of other schools. Four years previously, Hatfield School had built a pool on a self-help basis for £1,930. Allowing for considerable cost increases over the years, it was hoped that St Christopher might be able to build a similar pool for the sum mentioned at the meeting. That was merely the cash expenditure; what no one could foresee was how gifts in kind might compare with those at other schools.

Visits paid to a number of these quickly made it clear that many school pools were not being built in accordance with modern safety standards, in terms of the depth of water required for diving. The minimum depths laid down in the safety standard approved by the Amateur Swimming Association are 11 ft. 4½ in. for a 3 metre springboard and 12 ft. 5½ in. for a 5 metre springboard, which we intended to install. The result was a design for a pool actually two and a half times the volume of the Hatfield pool; it would be short sighted for us to aim at anything smaller, and unthinkable to build a pool below the most recent safety standards. The School's swimming pool was clearly going to be a much better one than had originally been planned; it was equally clearly going to be a great deal more expensive. The £3,000 had become £5,700.

Raising the money

Inside the School, plans were immediately put in hand for the earning or collection of money by individual pupils during the coming Christmas holidays. A "target" was suggested by the School Committee, according to the age of the child, varying from £1 in the lower Senior School groups to £2/l0/- in the Sixth. The Parents' Fund Raising Committee went equally vigorously to work, and by the beginning of the Spring term 1962 an encouraging start had been made, and a good quarter of the whole sum needed was already in the Bank. By the end of the winter this sum had increased by nearly half as much again, and the fund totalled a little over £2,000. By the end of the Summer term 1962 a further £1,000 had been added, mostly as a result of a carefully organised Fair. Well over half the cost of the pool had now been collected.

Naturally, as time went on funds came in more slowly; but by November 1963, two years after the launching of the project, only another £1,000 needed to be found. A second Fair during the Summer term 1964 provided the last "heave" (these two efforts raised respectively £985 and £730, each in the course of a single afternoon) and the whole cost of the pool had been raised in just over two and a half years.

It would be impossible to list all the money-raising methods that were employed both inside and outside the School; they included coffee mornings, cake stalls in a local market, biscuit selling in "break" time at School, carol singing, staff-and-parent dances, crabapple jelly making, jumble sales, a Madeira morning, film shows, concerts, a barbecue, a book sale, shoe cleaning, wood chopping, clothes washing, the making of Christmas cards, lampshades, toffee, pyjama cases, toffee-apples, toys, as well as jobs of all kinds done by children during their holidays. One senior boy spent the whole of Christmas working as a kitchen hand in a Butlin's Holiday Camp; another found that it was one thing to collect five hundred "empties" from social gatherings, but quite another to dispose of them, since licensed houses would only accept a handful at a time. These were only two examples of the resourcefulness that was shown by dozens of children in raising their quota for the swimming pool fund.

Preparatory work

Before the work began, the clay sub-soil had to be tested for sulphates that might attack concrete. According to the Building Research Station's Digest No. 31 on "Concrete in sulphate-bearing clays and ground waters", the upper limit of safety was 0.2 per cent of S04 (dry weight). Some boys set to work to dig up clay samples from different depths, and found that below 6 ft. 6 in. a layer of pure clay began; one sample was brought up from 8 ft. deep and another from 12 ft., and both were sent to the Metropolitan Water Board for analysis. Their sulphate content was found to be .025 per cent and .03 per cent respectively, so no trouble need be anticipated from that quarter.

There was a great deal of other preparatory work to be done. Electricity and water had both to be brought to the site, electricity for a Kango hammer and water both for constant use during construction and later on for filling the pool. The local Water Board would consent to nothing larger than a 1 in. inlet, which meant that the pool would take a whole week to fill; but with the recirculation system of filtration to be installed, one fill would last indefinitely. Not only had some necessary water to be brought to the spot, some unnecessary water had to be got rid of, and the disposal of surface water which collected during construction presented awkward problems for months on end.

Other off-site preparations included the bending of the steel reinforcing rods, the stripping of the ex-railway trough wood of rusty nails and screws, and the preparing of the wood for rough shuttering - for although Wimpey's metal form work was to be used for the walls of the pool, strong barricades of wood would be needed to prevent landslides of the heavy clay surrounding the hole. On-site preparations would begin with marking out the hole to be excavated, the mechanical digging of the channels for the main sewer and the storm water drains (an outside firm asked £337 for this job alone), the mechanical excavation of the hole and its subsequent trimming to the exact dimensions needed, and the putting down, over the entire floor of the hole, of a "blinding layer" of weak concrete to give a clean working surface for the floor of the pool.

Digging the hole

It was only four months after the project had been first discussed at the Parents' Circle meeting that the site was marked out, in mid February 1962. A certain amount of preliminary work had already been done during the Christmas holidays, with the shifting of railway sleepers to make rough tracks. Half a dozen old pupils came to give some welcome help on the site during the last few weeks of the Spring term, and one month after the marking out, the big drag-line excavator came to dig the hole. Just before this happened, we were enabled to save the top-soil over the whole site by the kindness of a neighbouring farmer - an old pupil and present parent of the School - who bull-dozed it aside until it should be needed again when the pool was complete. The expert in charge of the excavator may well have managed bigger machines, for when he was one day asked by an interested spectator "if he had done this sort of work before", he replied: "Yes, Kariba Dam." So he had. It was a whole week's work, for which the firm of Stutely charged the nominal sum of £100. The last ten days of the term were employed in trimming the hole to the exact requirements of the job, and on the first day of the Easter holidays actual construction began.

At the planning stage it was felt that the School could not afford a full-time professional foreman, even if one could have been found who was both competent as a concreter and willing to teach children. Just before work on the project began, however, a foreman fell from heaven, or more accurately from Edinburgh, in the person of a young member of the staff who was employed at that time in the school gardens. Michael Pooley was a designer-craftsman whose previous experience had been mainly in ceramics, but, in the words of the Engineer, "he quickly became an extremely competent foreman, and had a remarkable capacity for handling practical engineering problems". He devoted his whole time to the swimming pool, being in charge of all the work for the next year and a half.

The job to be done

To put it simply, a swimming pool is a concrete box sunk in the ground, with inlets and outlets for the water in the manner of a domestic bath; its floor is a slab of concrete, and its walls are formed by pouring concrete into the space between two supporting moulds. But to simplify to this extent is really to falsify. Concrete gives no second chances; it is extremely difficult, once you have put it there, to take it away again. The job had got to be done right the first time, and doing it right means achieving exactly the right sort of concrete with reinforcement accurately placed to the design drawings. The drawings themselves complied with the provisions of the British Standard Code of Practice CP 2007 (1960), "Design aild Construction of Reinforced and Prestressed Concrete Structures for the storage of water and other Aqueous Liquids."

The laying of a solid concrete floor sounds fairly straightforward, but in fact the shuttering for each separate floor slab was quite complicated, for not only did it have to allow two layers of steel to stick out so that they could be enmeshed in the next slab, but also a layer of PVC was necessary to act as a water bar in the joins. This water bar is essential, because however well laid the concrete is, however sound its consistency, and however well compacted with a vibrator (which shakes it down into a solid mass, expelling air bubbles at the same time), concrete shinks while it is hardening. This shrinkage (which is of the order of about 1 in 3000) was catered for in two ways. The first way was to cast alternate bays of the floor slab and the walls, leaving narrow "in-fill" strips only two feet wide, to be cast at least seven days after the portion on either side. The second way was to complete the whole of the floor slab first, then to cast the wall bases on to the outside edges of the floor, after that the walls, and finally the corners, still with the minimum seven days interval.

The casting of the walls involved the use of a giant-sized Meccano set in the shape of the shuttering, technically known as Rapid Metal Formwork, which had been lent by Wimpey's. The standard technique for this shuttering is to take a pair of "soldiers" (upright steel supports 10 feet tall), holding them together and apart by tie bars through the thickness of the future wall. Then two panels (each 2 ft. square) are added to either side with "A" clips until another pair of soldiers is reached, and so on until the necessary length of shuttering is obtained. "Walings" (or scaffold poles) are then fastened to the top and bottom of the panels with "B" clips (to stiffen the shuttering lengthwise). The "A" clips are taken off again and used to add another row of panels on top of the first lot, and so on until the shuttering is high enough. Quite apart from this, there is scaffolding to hold the shuttering upright; scaffolding for workers to stand on, and for the vibrator to stand on; scaffolding to support the runways for the barrows carrying the concrete. It all has to be put up; and it all has to be taken down again.

Easter Holidays 1962

The first four weeks of the holiday saw a continuous "work camp", when some hundred pupils and twelve members of staff each gave up at least a week of their holidays to get the job under way. The first three weeks were residential, the last non-residential (the school buildings had to be got ready for the new term), and each day was divided into two 6-hour shifts, the gangs working either from 7.0 a.m. to 1.0 p.m. or from 1.0 p.m. to 7.0 p.m.

The month's achievement was impressive: 50 cubic yards of site "blinding" were laid, generally to within ½ in. of where it should be, the whole centre floor of the pool had been put down, the base of the shallow-end wall had been cast, and the site was ready for the steel shuttering to build the rest of the surrounding walls. The fourth week was spent in laying the first two sections of the "kicker" the bottom six inches of the wall cast integrally with three to five feet at the edges of the floor. This is the most heavily reinforced part of the pool, having in the deep end a ¾" steel bar every two inches along its whole length. At this point the walls themselves are 15 in. thick at their base. Enquiries on other pools had warned us of the difficulty of casting the 300 slope to the diving pit. If the concrete is too wet it may settle towards the bottom; if it is too dry, it may be impossible to compact into a dense waterproof layer. On a single day, six hours' hard work saw the laying of the entire main slope, twelve cubic yards of concrete in all. All this was managed in spite of a late start to the work. Hand trimming of the hole lasted a fortnight into the work camp; bad weather had made it impossible either to walk on the bottom without losing one's Wellingtons, or to throw a shovel of earth, since it just stuck to the shovel. But when the Summer term and the next stage of the work began, the first 50 cu. yds. of concrete were in position, reinforced by 1,341 bars of three-quarter inch steel, 1,328 of half inch steel and 218 of three-eighths inch steel, all of it bent by hand.

Summer term 1962

Work proceeded throughout the term, for seven hours on Mondays, seven and a half hours on Wednesdays, eight hours on Saturdays and six on Sundays. Teams of anything between twelve and twenty, drawn from 118 children and 7 members of staff, volunteered to work regularly, according as their school commitments allowed them, generally on the same job so that each group could become reasonably skilled at one particular thing. Work sessions were in units of 1½, 2 or 3 hours at a stretch, some workers volunteering for one, some for two, some for three units each week.

The original hopes of completing the shell of the pool during the Summer term had clearly been pitched too high: such a speed of building would in fact have been rather faster than that reached by the contractors building the new Cambridge City pool of about the same size. The actual achievement during one term was extremely satisfactory, especially considering the problem of instructing and controlling a variable labour force of well over a hundred children. A residential work camp was held during the first week of the Summer holidays, when some of the deep-end wall was cast; after this, work was in abeyance until a second work camp was held just before the new term began.

A project like this could hardly be carried through with no mistakes at all; the only serious one occurred during this term, when the Construction Engineer came over from Cambridge one evening to find that a number of small contributory factors had combined to result in a patch of very poor concrete - a load of over-dry "ready mix", an unhelpful lorry driver, a hot afternoon so that the concrete "went off" quickly, a gang not being absolutely ready to shoot the concrete into precisely the right place. He had to spend two days helping with a pair of large pneumatic drills in breaking out some three cubic yards of concrete on a slope of 300 to the horizontal, prising it out from amongst ¾ bars at 4 in. centres. (It was at this stage that a group of children from the Montessori class helped extract the broken pieces from between the reinforcing bars.) The driver of the compressor for the drills, observing a handful of adults with a gang of children using heavy roadbreakers, was frankly puzzled; he finally hit on the only satisfactory explanation - it must be an Approved School. But he left the site still at a loss to know how to account for the girls.

Autumn and Winter 1962-3

By now many of the workers were showing familiarity with the job, and some were showing real skill; a new technical vocabulary had been learnt, and talk was of tie-rods with their water bar, of cones and set pins, of walings, standards, ledgers and putlogs, not to mention soldiers that were reluctant to stand upright and always had to be supported.

Work proceeded vigorously throughout the Autumn term. The whole of the week except Sunday mornings was covered by 19 shifts of 1½ to 3 hours each; nor did the work always stop at dusk, since a kind offer by a school parent made possible one evening's work each week by floodlight. Some 160 children worked right through the term, many of them for several periods each week. In addition, there was a special four weeks' effort made, when four entire classes each worked a whole four-day week, right through the school day, without dropping their normal evening preparation or private week-end studies. Though the heaviest manual tasks were naturally undertaken by the boys, the girls took their full share of work throughout the construction of the pool, and showed particular skill in fixing the steel and shuttering.

The Winter that followed was the one that nobody is likely to forget. Ice and snow took over the site for the greater part of the term, but no damage was done to the concrete shell, and work was renewed as soon as the first thaw set in. Close on a hundred children came out to work, many of them for more than one spell during the week. This was perhaps the most testing time of all - the weather was still bitterly cold, and it almost hurt to hold the metal scaffolding. The Engineer recalls with admiration the way in which the children "hung on" until the spring finally came. During the first week of the Easter holidays, twenty-five picked and proved volunteers took part in a successful work camp. When it finished, the whole shell of the pool had been completed except for two main wall sections.

Summer term 1963

This was a term of necessary "finishing off" before the test filling could be undertaken, to see how watertight the pool was. The steel shuttering and scaffolding that had been erected and dismantled fifty times or more began to be removed, the final shape of the pool began to be revealed, and weeks of hacking, chipping, scraping, hole filling, site clearing and drain digging followed. Wimpey's Overseas Manager had written: "Frankly, I did not think you stood a chance of doing this fairly ambitious job under at least two years." Yet only sixteen months had passed since the first turf was dug, and now the deep end was being filled to test water-tightness, and the school was enjoying a first fortnight's bathing, before term ended, in the pool that it had made.

There was, of course, still much to be done: "back filling" the earth on the outside of the walls, all the draining and filtration installation (including the building of a solid brick filter house), the spectators' stand, the concrete surround, the erecting of diving boards, the smoothing of the inside walls, not to mention the heating installation and the building of changing rooms and lavatories which would follow later. But the pool was in being. The remaining work needed different skills, involving brick laying and plumbing, and from now on Percy Cook, co-head of the School's Maintenance Department, was in charge of the whole project, and the children became builders' and plumbers' mates.

The end in sight

During the Autumn term 1963 work consisted mainly of moving sticky masses of earth, either for back-filling or for digging drains. A beginning was also made with the foundations of the plant house which was to house the pumps, filters and heating apparatus. The system used for this last was steam injection, operating through grills in the floor of the pool.

During the Spring term 1964 work continued on the filter house foundation, manholes and pipes; the clay was sticky, the going was slow, the labour force was a little low in numbers, though full of enthusiasm. Nonetheless, 86 children worked on the job throughout the term. This was the stage that any project knows, when only the really dedicated carry it through to completion. There was never any lack of these; in particular, from the School, Hugh Levinson, who had worked on the site from the very first day and now emerged as a natural leader who could use his brains as well as his hands, and from the Staff, Heinz Franzen from Köln University, who spent his "vacation" doing some slogging hard work for us over a period of many months. Seventeen children and twelve adult volunteers who attended an Easter work camp managed in a single week to set three-quarters of the pre-cast scum trough sections, to dig and lay three-quarters of the surface drainage, outlet and inlet pipes, and to set three-quarters of the filter house floor slab. During the early part of the Summer, in which a labour force of 144 worked throughout the term, the rest of the scum trough was set, and the concrete wall bases of the filter house were cast. Then came the biggest transformation of all, in which the whole appearance of the site was enormously improved: within a space of four days, a giant "traxcavator" earth mover, weighing fifteen tons, shifted the familiar mountains of earth that had surrounded the pool for the past two years, built up the earth to pool-side level and spread top soil where it was needed for grass growing. The surroundings now really suggested those of a finished swimming pool, and the pool itself was bathed in regularly throughout June and July. Though the filtration plant was not in operation, daily chemical treatment kept the water pure, and home-made diving stands lasted out the season.

The last lap

During the Autumn term work was begun on the brickwork of the filter house. The inner tanks (each 6 ft. 6 in. long, with a diameter of 5 ft. 6 in.), set in their special curved concrete cradles, had to be thoroughly cleaned inside and painted with bitumen solution and an enamel finish. This meant applying two final coats after the priming, and applying them hot; it was clearly too difficult for children to manage, and was therefore put out to contract for the sum of £50. The contractors, when they came, explained that they usually got some boiling tar dropped on themselves, but it always miraculously seemed to miss their eyes. The School's workers were quite content not to rely on a similar miracle happening to themselves, and concentrated on preparing the insides of the tanks - two Sunday afternoon sessions with wire brushes. Though the tanks were large, their manholes were small; still, the Headmaster did just manage to squeeze inside, and - what is more important - to emerge later, a splendid rust-red colour. In addition to this work, concrete retaining walls were cast at each end of the spectators' stand, and along the edge of the deep-end surround paving.

During the Spring term 1965 work proceeded on the filter house, and preparations were made for the concreting of the 4,000 square feet of surround. Gangs of volunteers made thirty journeys with a tractor and a trailer, bringing back 120 cubic yards of rubble from a local building site. During an Easter holiday work camp, attended by twenty children and five adults, a four inch layer of concrete was put down over the whole surround, topped with a three-eighths of an inch "skin" of non-slip resin cement supplied by a school parent at little more than a nominal charge.

It remained to install the three sets of pool steps, two of them the gift of parents, the diving stands and the springboards. The erection of the five-metre stand was planned for the Summer of 1965, a one-metre laminated pine springboard, costing £42, was given by one family of Old Scholars, and the Parents' Circle gave another, of fibre glass with an adjustable fulcrum, costing £240.

The achievement

The plan of the pool here reproduced gives a general impression of its lay-out, and it may be of interest to add some measurements and statistics. It is believed to be the largest "do-it-yourself" pool in the country. The area of the whole precinct is 11,220 sq. ft., of which approximately one third is taken up by the pool itself, one third by the concrete surround, and one third by the spectators' stand and the buildings (including the changing rooms which are to be added later). Since international standard specifications are always expressed in metres, it is proper to give the dimensions of the pool as 25 m. x 11 m., with an extra 7 m. x 4 m. of diving bay (or in terms more familiar to many, 82 ft. x 36 ft., and a further 23 ft. x 14 ft. for diving.) It was built with about 250 tons of concrete and over six miles of steel rods weighing some thirty tons. It holds 160,000 gallons of water. The building of the whole precinct 3 ft. above normal ground level solved the problem of what to do with the thousand or so cubic yards of earth from the hole originally excavated. The learner section slopes gently from a depth of 3 ft. at the shallow end, and the deepest part of the pool, opposite the diving bay, is 12 ft. 6 in.

From beginning to end of the project, work on the site was genuinely voluntary. The total number of the labour force over the three years of the pool's construction was in the neighbourhood of 450, the age range being five to seventy-two.

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