Woodheath Swimming pool

Swimming pool outsideIn 1911, Frank Tiarks built Chislehurst’s first indoor swimming pool in the gardens of Woodheath. The pool was built while Woodheath itself was being restored after the first fire in 1909, based on designs by Maurice Webb, son of Sir Aston Webb, who designed Admiralty Arch, laid out the Mall, and designed our own Easdens in Bull Lane, Chislehurst. To see a sketch of the interior of the pool at the time of design, click here.

The pool was discovered by Peter Harding when he was clearing the land he had bought from Foxbury Estates. The marble pool had had heated water, swings and a water slide. From the outside, the building is not easily identified as housing a swimming pool. There were no side windows to the building; instead all the light came from windows in the ceiling.

The building stood behind a sunken garden, which had a statue as its central feature; the garden was also cleared, though not fully restored by Peter. A part of the garden can be seen in the photograph of the exterior of the pool.

Pool interiorThe pool was used by the Tiarks family and Agnes noted in her diaries on numerous occasions the bathing parties that were held there, not only in the hot summer months, but throughout the year. Early cinefilm taken by Henry, Frank's son, show the family using the pool, the slide and the swings. The family continued to use the pool until Frank sold Foxbury and moved away, and for a while it fell into disuse. By the time that Peter Harding bought it, the pool was being used for the growing of mushrooms.

Mr Harding managed to restore the pool, though not the heating arrangements, and held a number of swimming parties for his children and their friends. Sadly, the pool was demolished when Queenborough Gardens was built.

More pictures of the pool inside and out here...