The Corporation Pond

The Corporation Pond

In 1929

‘The freezer’; the open-air pool

refreshed by the North Sea with each high tide,

& relished as the coldest swim in Britain,

opened as wind blew bitter from the east.

The sun shone, but few that day braved the town’s first pool

that permitted men and women to bathe together.

Until then men swam nude off the promenade

and women swam in ‘modest’ clothing, overshadowed by the rocks,

where all males ‘even of tender years’ were warned away.

But now here for all was the new Corporation Pond.

A mannequin parade and a brass band feted the crowd

gathered to witness

‘an outstanding event in the history of the town’.

The Pond-master oversaw bathing boxes

for gentlemen and dressing boxes for boys and girls

with a glittering pavilion for the ladies.

The Magnificent Magnatone produced the sound of

the finest orchestras and military bands

and the whole of Bayswell Beach ‘rang with melody’.

Fairy lights in yellow, green, red and orange,

‘of the best British manufacture’, lit the way

for the Ladies Graceful Swimming Championships

and the Challenge Medal for Boys.

The future was here in Dunbar

with the most up-to-date equipment;

a diving platform, a spring board and a water chute,

and generations loved it.


In 1981 the council talked of local government cuts

In 1982 the pool was described as ‘controversial’

In 1983 the pool had been ‘a folly from the start’

In 1985 with the pool ‘derelict’ numbered visitors still paraded for an accolade:

‘Seaside Queens’, ‘Miss Tunnocks Junior’, ‘Best Mum’.

When demolition began the Courier reported:

for the people of Dunbar this is like a death in the family.


In 1992

A new cliff-top pool!

A wave maker. A bubble bed. Water geysers, water flumes, a steam room, saunas, sun beds, aerobics, a terrace by the pool, a conditioning room.

‘Dunbar’s days as an East Lothian holiday top spot will return!’


But in Dunbar you’ll not go far before someone confides:

We used to have an open-air pool you know.

We used to have an open air pool and, Oh!

It was wonderful. We used to swim in sea water in the open air

but that was all a long, time ago.