Old Victoria Park Swimming Pool to open for public visits before closure
The old swimming pool at Victoria Park, the first ever public swimming pool in Hong Kong, will cease operation after its last day of service on September 1. The new Victoria Park swimming pool complex will be commissioned on September 16 to take over the mission of serving the public.
A spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) said today (August 28) that to mark the closure of the old swimming pool, the Department would hold two open days on September 2 and 3, from 9am to 9pm, to provide opportunities for interested members of the public to take photos and walk down memory lane at the old pool.
On the two open days most of the facilities of the old pool will be open for public viewing, including the entrance hall, changing rooms, spectator stand, part of the main pool areas and the first aid post, the spokesman added.
Despite regular maintenance and periodic renovation in the past five decades, many of the facilities in the old Victoria Park Swimming Pool have become outdated by modern-day and international standards. To enhance the standard of the facilities and provide a venue for high-level swimming competitions, the LCSD initiated a redevelopment project in 2009 to construct a new swimming pool complex in the vicinity of the old pool. The construction work of the new swimming pool complex has been completed and it is scheduled for opening on September 16 to take over the historic mission of the old pool in serving the public.
On the opening of the new swimming pool complex, the old pool will be demolished and the vacated site will be used for reprovisioning the handball court and skating rinks which were demolished a few years ago to make way for the construction of the new pool.
Opening in 1957, the old Victoria Park Swimming Pool was built with funds donated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and managed by the former Urban Council. It was officially unveiled by the then Governor, Sir Alexander Grantham, on October 16, 1957. The grand opening ceremony, featuring life-saving demonstrations, fancy diving shows and police band performances, was attended by hundreds of guests as well as over 2 000 students.
The old pool was built to host swimming competitions as well as for community use. When it opened the admission charge was 50 cents for adults and 30 cents for children under 14 years old.
The old pool was built to the international standards of the 1950s. The main pool measured 50 metres by 20 metres with a deep zone of five metres for platform diving. The diving platform was also up to the then prevailing Olympic standards. The pool could also be used for hosting international water polo matches and the spectator stand could accommodate 1 700 people.
Apart from the main pool, the old swimming pool complex was provided with a children's pool and a toddlers' pool. In the late 1970s, a training pool and a diving pool were added to the complex.
The swimming pool was very popular among local residents. In the first year after its opening, over 360 000 swimmers used the pool. As of today, the pool's accumulated attendance has reached over 15 million.
In recognition of the public's wish to preserve the memory of the old swimming pool where practicable, the LCSD has identified some items of historical significance and characteristics at the old pool, including the plaque unveiled by Sir Alexander and the stonework of the low wall facing the public entrance. The department is exploring the possibility of displaying some of these items at appropriate locations within the Victoria Park for commemoration purposes. In addition, it will make use of 3D laser scanning technology to produce a full record of the architectural design of the old pool.
The LCSD is also working on a display of information and old photos as well as a video production relating to the old swimming pool. It plans to display these materials for public appreciation later this year.
For enquiries regarding the open days of the old Victoria Park Swimming Pool, please call the swimming pool office on 2570 8347.
Ends/Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:11
The former Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Alexander Grantham, unveils the plaque of the old Victoria Park Swimming Pool on October 16, 1957. (Source: Wah Kiu Yat Po)
An inter-school swimming competition held at Victoria Park Swimming Pool in 1962. (Source: Information Services Department)
An overview of the main pool of the old Victoria Park Swimming Pool complex in 1969. (Source: Information Services Department)
The old swimming pool was always a popular spot for local residents in the summertime. This photo was taken in 1974. (Source: Sing Tao Daily)
A water safety campaign held at the old swimming pool in 1981. (Source: Information Services Department)