The swimming pools at the Pavilions in the Park are Horsham’s fourth public baths. Some may remember the open air pool in Horsham Park but this was Horsham’s second pool.
The first pool was built by Henry Michell junior, son of the local business man. It was not built as a money making scheme; the intention was to break even and provide the town with a new recreation facility. The pool opened in 1873 and in that year had just 56 swimmers subscribed. The following year was even worse with only 26. Michell faced closure the following year and needed a minimum of 50 subcribers paying 10s 6d [2006: £33.50] for a season or 5s 3d [2006: £16.75] for two months in order to stay in business. The 1880 map of Horsham shows the swimming pool and some outbuildings placed opposite Mill Bay Lane where the dual carriageway outside Staples and Currys is today, but by this time the pool had closed.
For another 50 years Horsham was to have no public swimming baths. During this time the mill pond belonging to the Town or Provender Mill became the place to swim. Despite the leeches the pupils from nearby Collyers School still went there for a swim. The mill pond can be seen in the bottom right corner of the map but does not exist today.
In 1933 building work began on the second pool using a labour force that was unemployed due to the 30s depression. This was an open air pool in the park provided by the town council. On July 7th 1934 the pool was declared open by Sir Ofori Atta, ruler of Akim Abuakwa on Africa’s Gold Coast. This pool proved to be much more successful with nearly 4000 swimmers in the first week.
In November 1981 open air pool had been replaced by the third iteration, the first covered pool built on the same site. Costing £900,000 [2006: £2,383,926.09] of which £85,000 [2006: £225,148.58] was raised by the Horsham Indoor Swimming Association, it was comprised of large adult pool and a small square 1m pool for learning to swim. In 1987 an adult could swim for 90p [2006: £1.75] and juniors for just 50p [2006: £0.97] , see the leaflet below. An aerial view from around 2001 is also shown below.
In January 2001 the covered pool was closed for redevelopment. It was demolished to make way for the Pavilions in the Park and opened in November 2002. As well as the standard and learning pools there is a very shallow pool for toddlers, a water slide and a recreational pool that leads outside for all-season outdoor swimming. The Pavilions also has a range of other fitness facilities available.