In the early days of Bletchley's expansion, the provision of sports facilities was not considered a priority. Indeed, Bletchley Urban District Council could not afford to allocate large sums of money for amenity projects, even though many of the incoming Londoners may have been used to such things. The Council did, however, acquire Manor Farm - 28 acres of which were then used for playing fields - later becoming home to Bletchley Town Football Club, Bletchley Town Cricket Club, Rugby and Hockey clubs.
Manor Fields today.
Bletchley already had a putting green and tennis courts at Central Gardens - a town centre recreation area that the council hoped provided something for everyone. Mr. Battams, who hired out the courts and sold tickets for the putting, maintained the gardens and flowerbeds.
Putting at Central Gardens in the 1950's.
The Tennis courts.
Photographs supplied by the Living Archive.
One facility that many people wanted was a swimming pool.

In 1949, the Bletchley District Gazette asked, "Where can people bathe and swim?" The answer, for many of Bletchley's children, was the Denbigh Road Gravel Pits. This natural lido was always busy during spells of hot weather, even though it was considered to be an unhealthy place to bathe as it was known to be heavily contaminated with animal excreta. Many people did, however, use the area without suffering any apparent ill-effects.

In August 1950, another lido was opened at Water Eaton, using the stretch of the River Ouse flowing up to the Water Eaton Mill. Ice creams and cups of tea were served on a small island in the middle of the river. The lido only lasted for two or three years - what Bletchley really wanted was a 'proper' swimming pool.

Eventually it was decided that a pool could be built to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll and a Town Committee was formed to raise the necessary funds. October 17th - 24th 1953 was designated 'Big Splash Week' with numerous fund-raising events taking place - including local school children helping to make a 'Mile of Pennies' through Bletchley. Unfortunately, the money raised fell short of target. Nevertheless, the Council still went ahead with an open-air pool in Central Gardens, which was known as 'Queen's Pool' and was opened on 7th June 1958, complete with a commemorative plaque that the Council had made at a cost of £40.
Queen's Pool in the 1950's.
Photograph supplied by the Living Archive.
Queen's Pool with its new roof - prior to re-opening in 1969.
Photograph supplied by the Living Archive.
Queen's Pool.
By March 1968, the North Buckinghamshire Sports Advisory Council had discussed the most needed sporting facilities in its area. Once again, the issue of sports provision was in the news. Pressure was now on for a covered pool. Consequently, Queen's Pool had a roof constructed over it and had heating installed. It re-opened on 4th July 1969, charging adults two shillings and children one shilling. The improved pool was only intended to last for around five years. By 1973, Queen's Pool and, indeed, Central gardens, no longer existed. Bletchley Leisure Centre had arrived.
Queen's Pool in foreground, just prior to demolition.
Return to Leisure Introduction page.