The Urban District Council of Hampton originally opened Hampton Pool in 1922 and successive local authorities managed it until it was temporarily closed after the summer season of 1980.
Over the years the swimming pool had been enlarged and the current building was erected in 1960. For four years after closure in 1980 the pool became a fly tipper’s paradise. In 1983 the Council announced the permanent closure of the pool and the intention to return it to parkland. However, the plan was turned down by the planning committee, thanks to the late Councillor Gordon Banks who voted against his party and said that the Sink or Swim campaign should be given a chance to see what they could do.
The vigorous local ‘Sink or Swim’ campaign, along with a local by-election that led to a change in control of the Council in 1984, resulted in the Council challenging what is now Hampton Pool Trust to prove (via fundraising in the community) that there was sufficient local support for the reopening of the facility. They offered to match our efforts with a grant of a pound for every pound raised up to a total of £20,000. In fact, a total of £25,000 was raised, largely thanks to the organisation and inspiration of John Bryce (then Headmaster of Buckingham School), who marshalled a small army of volunteers who rattled buckets, ran events and generally worked tirelessly in support of the pool. That, and the grant of £25,000 from the soon to be defunct GLC, persuaded the Council and The Royal Parks that the pool should be reopened.
The first step was to provide heated water but other refurbishment was also carried out. This refurbishment was given a huge amount of support by the Manpower Services Commission’s Youth Training Scheme (YTS) which provided, at almost no cost to the pool, the staff who, along with an army of local volunteers, did a great deal of the work in clearing, painting and refurbishing the site ready for reopening. The YTS staff then went on to be the lifeguards for the first season.
Hampton Pool Trust is a not-for-profit company and a registered charity. Since 1985 when the pool re-opened to the public, the pool has developed into a valuable community facility, thanks to the huge, unpaid effort of trustees and well-wishers.
In 1994, a major redevelopment plan, costed at £2.3 million, was submitted for planning permission and an application made to the National Lottery for part funding. Unfortunately this application was turned down.
With financial assistance from Hampton Fuel Allotments Charity (now Hampton Fund) and LBRuT, 2004 saw the completion of improvements that included the refurbishment of the pool tank (at a cost of some £370,000) and a new roof covering to repair the leaking building and the ‘new look’ Hampton Pool was reopened.
The first refurbishment of the interior of the main building during 2006 included the reception area, studio, changing rooms, underfloor heating and level access. In the autumn of 2007, the gym was refurbished with a second phase of changing room refurbishment completed in 2011 (jointly funded by HPT and YMCA London South West).
There remains much to do to improve the facility – including improvements to the changing rooms, gym and café, providing access to the first floor for people who cannot climb stairs and resurfacing, drainage and lighting of the car park.
Since April 2007 the day-to-day management of the facility has been contracted out to YMCA St Paul’s Group (formerly known as YMCA London South West and previously Kingston & Wimbledon YMCA), resulting in a higher level of professionalism.
This does not mean, however, that Hampton Pool Trust has no ongoing job to do.
Trustees have a duty to monitor the management agreement, strive to improve the facilities and ensure that there are contingency plans for swimming at Hampton Pool to continue if the Management Agreement with YMCA St Paul’s Group is terminated.
Furthermore, the Trust remains the owner of the Hampton Pool facilities, the main swimming pool, the learner pool, the buildings and most of the equipment. The directors/trustees therefore have duties of ownership of these substantial assets.
Hampton Pool Trust also holds the licence to use the two-acre site. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Trustees are also the guardians of the unique and special ethos of Hampton Pool.