Wednesday, 24 September 2014

From our Photographic Collection by Pat Harvey

Can you guess what is going on in this picture?


Mr Gourlay (left) teaching swimming at Step Rock c1940s.
Photographer: G. M. Cowie.

The girl in the photograph is being prepared for a swimming lesson in the Step Rock Pool, St Andrews, in the late 1940s. A length of rope is being attached to the girl’s bathing costume. She then enters the pool with the instructors standing on “dry land” holding on to the rope and telling her what to do. Maybe a case of sink or swim!

 
The Step Rock Pool was where the Sea life Centre is now. It was built in 1903, 300ft long by 100ft wide. The depth graduated from 2ft 4ins to 8ft.

 
In the 1930s proper shelters and huts were built to form the Step Rock complex. Women were then permitted to use the pool. Until then, it had been “men only”, while women used the pool behind the Castle.

 
At the Step Rock, as well as the swimming pool and changing facilities, there was a paddling pool for young children and a kiosk which sold ice cream, cups of tea, buckets and spades etc. On the beach beside the pool, adults sat on deck chairs while children played in the sand.

 
For swimmers there was a diving board, spring board and a chute. The pool was cleaned by high tides. The temperature of the water did not vary much. It was always cold until we “got under”. On sunny days young people sunbathed on the concrete area beside the pool.

 
Over the years, many different acquatic events were held, -


Bathing Belle competition

Diving exhibitions

Water polo

 

and the annual swimming galas which attracted hundreds of spectators.

 
The huge success of the Step Rock was due to the formation of the Step Rock Amateurs Swimming Club in 1928. Local people and visitors alike would retain happy memories of summers spent at the Step Rock.