Who remembers fun-filled days at these Milton Keynes swimming pools in the 1970s and 80s?

Outdoor pools were often freezing, but nobody seemed to mind

By Sally Murrer
Monday, 17th May 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 4:19 pm

As part of our regular nostalgia series, the Citizen is taking a look back at the swimming pools where older readers once spent many happy summer days.

Wolverton outdoor pool was the place to be for many families and youngsters from the 1960s onwards.

Based on the edge of Western Road recreation ground, it first opened on August 1 1964, at a time when the town was undergoing a great deal of regeneration and industrial growth.

The old Wolverton swimming pool. Photo: Living Archive

The 110ft by 49ft pool was designed to county and national standards and proved popular with people from all over the area. It also boasted 31 male and female changing cubicles, thermostatically controlled showers, metal baskets for clothes, and a poolside cafe.

After almost half a century, the pool closed on September 4 2011. It's been replaced by a modern indoor pool, suitable for all year round use.

By this time, Newport Pagnell's outdoor swimming pool had also closed, after decades of serving the community.

The pool had its own changing room block and a cafe serving snacks - including hot tomato soup. It was a regular venue for swimming galas, which were attended by hundreds of people.

Who remembers Bletchley leisure centre pool? Photo: Living Archive

It had been built with money gifted to the town in 1957 by Harry Middleton who had to learn to swim as a boy in the town's River Lovat.

He was allegedly caught gambling in Bury Field and sent to Australia as punishment. After making his fortune there, he returned to present his old town with a large amount of cash.

Today the open air pool is enclosed in a smart new fitness complex owned by Newport Pagnell Town Council - but it is still named Middleton pool after its benefactor.

At the other end of town, in Bletchley, people were also seeing some changes in their swimming pool. During the 60s and early 70s, the town had an outdoor facility called Queen's Pool.

Bletchley leisure centre pool in the 1970s. Photo: Living Archive

But during the 1970s a new, exciting leisure centre was built, complete with a caterpillar covered walkway and pineapple-shaped glass structure housing a new indoor heated pool - complete with a slide into the water.

Thousands of local youngsters learned to swim here before the 'pineapple' was demolished and a new modern leisure complex built to replace it in 2009.

Some local people had fought to save the pineapple, but lost the battle.

By late 1989 there was great excitement when MK was promised a new state-of-the-art £3.7m pool would be built at Shenley Church End.

Newport Pagnell's Middleton pool today

Dolphin Splashdown opened the following year, complete with a wave machine, sirens, lights, forg-shaped foam floats, and two fun flumes.

Nine years later Dolphin Splashdown, or Bourton Mills Health and Leisure Club as it was by then known, closed down due to a severe fire. Despite the hopes of local people, it never re-opened.

Dolphin Splashdown