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  • Writer's picturePhil Channon

The History of Trewan Hall's Swimming Pool

The idea of building a swimming pool was something that came to Denis Hill in 1966, only a year after they had welcomed campers to Trewan for the first time. In those days this wasn't an obvious thing to add to a campsite, the pool would become the first 25m inland pool in Cornwall, so another claim to Denis' vision being ahead of the times!

Constructing the swimming pool was not an easy task, but it was the kind of challenge that he loved. At the very least it was a great excuse to get on his Drott (a relic of a machine that he brought down from London on the back of a trailer). Here you can see Martha watching her Dad in the digging phase of the build through the summer of 66.

The excavated soil from the pool didnt go far, the fondly named 'mountain' at the bottom of Calves Close is where it ended up, piled up and reclaimed by nature.

Something that they were always aware of was the water table, and it was hard to tell where it lay without digging the hole. The risk was that the pool would fill up before they were ready! Luckily there were no problems through the summer while laying the solid concrete floor and walls. But before long it was Autumn and as the rains came the water table started to rise. In a scene that must have looked like something in a cartoon, jets of water started spurting from the base of the pool. In those days e-poxy resin wasn't exactly a common commodity, but of course, it was something Denis was able to find quickly. Some fast hands mixing the resin and applying it to the leaks did luckily manage to stem the flow. To this day if you dive to the bottom of the deep end you can just make out the small mounds that were later painted over, all part of the character.

Once complete the pool was painted, filled and happily passed the test of not leaking all over the front field. In these very early days, Phyllis Hill can be seen modelling for an early 'marketing shot'. The photoshoot was a masterclass in angles. Here you can see the casual set up of deckchairs and umbrella in a few inches of mud, not something that made the final publication, the paving stones had taken a little longer to arrive than anticipated...

In 1967 the pool opened and it was an instant hit. A victim of its own success it soon became incredibly busy, as seemingly the whole of Cornwall day tripped to the site. Stories of bands of motorcyclists arriving and lines down the drive were common, it had certainly been a worthwhile gamble! One of the first swimming clubs in Cornwall was started at Trewan - The Cormorants who now train in Newquay. County championships were even held here for a time until blessedly, other pools opened in the area and the pressure was eased.

As the pool became a space for campers to enjoy the legendary early galas began to take place. The images of these need no explanation and the amount of good old fashioned fun on is very apparent!

Ken Foulsham essentially ran the pool from 1969 to the early '90s and peoples memories of the pool from that time nearly always include the ever positive and energetic Ken. I'm sure countless of us can thank him for helping to teach us to swim and treasure his hand-drawn certificates for our early aquatic achievements.

The swimming pool soon became part of Trewan's identity, who can remember the finely tuned skill Ken and Dave Baldwin had of riding a truck next to the pool piled high with huge polystyrene boards? They would deftly throw the boards in dramatic floating arcs to perfectly land and cover the pool. A feat that would often drum up hordes of spectators and adorning fans. Ever the performers on stage or poolside :)

You can also see from the picture below the old snack shop and veranda the pool once had, this space is now used for the solar panels that partly heat the pool. When the dome was first schemed up an installed it meant that the veranda became defunct and the solar panels have proved a great use of the space instead.

Heating the pool was always a big ask, in the early days it was done using a wood-fired boiler, this required nearly hourly top-ups and management through the night, all worth it for the ambitious luxury Trewan was aiming for!

The dome is a very Trewan solution to the problem of a chilly pool. When it was first installed in 1982 it had a free-standing revolving door. This did mean that changing and loo breaks were all needed outside of the warm enclosure, not ideal when you are familiar with some of the weather August can bring. After a few years, Denis cooked up a better plan and customised the dome to fit what is now the 'Lifeguard box' and tunnelled in from the pool car park to make a more permanent entry. Dome's don't last forever and we are now onto our 5th, they are always made bespoke for us and its definitely something that makes Trewan what it is. We always cross our fingers for good weather and not needing the dome it but we are always very glad to have the option of protecting the pool when the weather is a little more unpredictable.

If you are after more photos of the 'good old days' our Facebook group has some absolute gold in it, all uploaded by the campers through the years. We love having a space that has so much history and so many memories!

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Lizzie Ferdinando
Lizzie Ferdinando
Aug 22, 2021

It's all so interesting 😁

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