As the “Sink or Swim” pool upgrade group meet tonight (31st October) at the National Theatre at 7pm to discuss ways to move forward towards an upgrade of the Braidwood Memorial Swimming Pool, it’s worth remembering the origins of the pool as an important fixture within the community.
It’s not so many years since the community rallied to keep the pool open after the cash strapped council sought to close it in 2006. Hundreds of people marched up Wallace Street and with several speeches from election candidates and community members. A petition signed by over 2300 residents to keep the pool open. At that time the cost of keeping the three Palerang pools open was $200,000 per annum.
The pool originally came into being after a committee was formed to raise funds in the late 1950s when town water became available, and it took seven years to raise the funds. Both John and Garry Maddrell were on the Committee and Percy Byron was Secretary.
Some of the fundraising was achieved by local people buying tiles as a contribution, and the committee also ran Queen Competitions. A clipping from the local paper in 1961 shows Cecile Higgs (Cathie King’s mother) won that year. Other fundraising was carried out by raffles, gambling nights and boxing competitions.
With the strong support of the community, the Committee raised the money and donated the labour to excavate, and finish the pool, build the filtration system and its housing. At this time neighbouring Councils had supported their own local pools, but Tallaganda Council was initially reluctant to support the project. When the State government’s Public Works granted some funds for its completion, which comprised the change rooms, toilets and fences, the pool became their responsibility.
In 1983 the pool had solar heating installed.
More recently the Braidwood Pool has also received a $58,000 filtration system in 2009. The plant room was cleaned out of all of the old equipment and new filters, pumps & pipework installed.
The following year new and enlarged solar panels on a larger superstructure, providing more shade cover for patrons was installed. The $50,000 solar panel replacement was funded by the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program funding and topped up by $20,000 from Council.
Peter Povey is driving the push for a major upgrade of the pool so that it can be used for year round hydrotherapy as well. At present it is very difficult if not impossible for older residents to get in or out as there are no stairs. Peter would like to see general seniors’ hydrotherapy as well as specialist rehabilitation for the many who have to travel great distances for therapy after knee or hip replacements. It would also be used for sports rehabilitation, and aquarobics.
Peter estimates the upgrade to cost around $3 million and at this stage is just investigating how this might be achieved and who might drive the project.
Peter says, “whatever happens in the future, it seems a pity that the original intention of the people who donated money, raised funds and built the pool as a memorial to those who served in the Second World War is lost.”
The original plaque which said "the pool and facilities have been erected by the Tallaganda Shire Council with minies provided by local citizens as a memorial to those who served in world war 1939 - 45", from the opening of the pool has been lost, presumable taken down when painting work was done and never replaced. Peter would like to find out where it is now.