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The highest of the diving boards at Spinney poolThe highest of the diving boards at Spinney pool. By kind permission Tom Lawson The Crib, at Spinney Pool,  where children learned to swim.  By kind permission Tom LawsonThe Crib, at Spinney Pool, where children learned to swim. By kind permission Tom Lawson

Spinney Pool

South East of Firbank Pit, at right angles to Billington Road, south of Leighton Buzzard was Spinney Pool pit. It was opened by Joseph Arnold & Sons Ltd in the 1880s, and closed towards the end of World War One.

In the summer of 1921 Leighton Buzzard Swimming Club was formed by Mr Raymond Willis and Mr G Stockwell. The worked-out Spinney Pool pit had filled up with spring water and the Swimming Club rented the pool from Arnolds for £100 per year. This freshwater pool measured some 300 yards by 50 yards and was up to 40 feet deep in places. Several diving boards were built; the highest, in the deepest part of the pool, was at 36 feet from the water surface. With landing stages and changing huts national swimming and diving events were held, attracting up to 3,000 visitors.

Children were taught to swim in the shallow waters of ‘The Crib’, a wooden platform with a protective fence around three sides.

Swimming was not without risk; the pool depth was irregular and shelves of sandstone protruded from the side of the pool, beneath the water level. Several drowning were reported.

In 1932 the Swimming Club purchased the pool for £600 and successfully ran it until 1946.

Annual swimming galas on August Bank Holiday Monday afternoons became popular events, followed by a dance carnival evening, raising money for hospitals in the area.

The pool gradually dried up between 1939 and 1947. After the end of World War Two, truckloads of London domestic rubbish were carried by train to fill in the pit. The site is now part of an industrial area.

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