Swindon’s Art Deco style concrete diving platform given listed status
The now-defunct 1935 Art Deco style diving platform at Coate Water invokes a fair amount of nostalgia in me. As a child I was sometimes taken to Langold Lake (5 miles the ‘other’ side of Worksop). This was a large country park thing – my memories are hazy as it was MANY years ago now. But I recall a swimming lake with a diving platform in it. Now I’m not saying that the diving platform there was exactly like the one at Coate Water, but the whole thing of the lake and the swimming is evocative. There was also a childrens’ outdoor bathing pool at Langold and getting to go in there was an enormous treat. So it’s interesting to see that Swindon’s 1930s concrete diving platform in Swindon has been awarded Grade II listed status.
The reasons for it being listed are, according the the British Listed Buildings website:
- Rarity: it is one of only four inter-war concrete diving platforms known to survive in England;
- Architectural and technical interest: it is a good example of a 1930s re-enforced concrete diving platform by JBL Thompson, a local architect, of an elegant, cantilevered design constructed to the latest technical innovations to achieve an optimal diving performance;
- Historic interest: unlike most diving platforms, it is associated with a lake (reservoir) that was landscaped to provide important outdoor sport- and leisure facilities in Swindon during the 19th C and early 20th C;
- Degree of survival: despite the loss of its railings it has survived mostly intact.
The board was completed in 1935 to a design by the Borough surveyor, JBL Thompson, who had, a year earlier designed the Art Deco style concert bowl for Swindon’s town gardens. There’s some rather interesting information about all of this on the British Listed Buildings website. I rather like that, during the opening ceremony on 22 June 1935, there was a demonstration of “fancy diving” by Miss Cicely Cousins who became National Diving Champion later that year. I would like to have seen that!
The same site also yielded something else I didn’t know: “By the 1930s a small Art Deco style outdoor bathing pool with fountain (now replaced with a children’s paddling pool and playground) was built, situated c 50m north-west of the new diving platform. Nearby a Children’s Paddling Pool was also created (now filled in) with a shelter. Both local and national diving competitions took place at Coate Water, and the lake was regularly used for water polo and regattas …” But visit the site for the rest. Despite a rather dull appearance it has some interesting material on it about the diving board and about Coate Water.
This news is hot on the heels of listed status being given to the Spectrum Building (or Renault building as I still call it despite Renault being long gone) showing yet again, that not only does Swindon do arts and culture it also has heritage. So it would be really great to see the thing cleaned up and given some TLC. And ditto with White Horse Pacified and the old canal bridge all of which are also slowly going to rack and ruin.
22nd January 2015: The photograph used in this post I obtained from Google images. However it has now come to my attention that the photo was taken by one Maureen Iles thus I’m delighted to give her all due credit for it. It’s a lovely photograph of a special place and very special structure. As regular listeners can’t have failed to notice my photographs often leave a lot to be desired so it’s a pleasant change to have a decent photo in one of my posts. Thank you Maureen.
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