The school, the pool and the boiler
The close relationship between Stoke’s Nayland Park Pool complex and Nayland College could be said to have started with a chat over a drink in the Nelson City Council Chamber.
Nayland’s founding principal, Bill Kane, was elected to the Council in 1968. As former long-time councillor Seddon Marshall recalled, Mr Kane was relaxing with fellow councillors after a meeting one night when the need for a community swimming pool in Stoke was raised. It was an oft-debated topic and one mentioned during the college’s opening ceremony speeches in February 1966.
The population of young families settling in the suburb of Stoke had grown steadily throughout the 1950s. In the late ‘50s the Department of Education bought land in Nayland Road on which to develop four schools. By 1968 Nayland Kindergarten, Nayland Primary and Nayland College were operational and Broadgreen Intermediate was set to open in 1971.
Without a pool of its own, Nayland College made use of Nayland Primary School’s lane pool, which had been built by volunteer labour and opened in 1962. College pupils trooped across the road to ‘swim’ in the waist-deep water of the 18m long pool. When it was time for the college’s annual swimming sports, pupils travelled into town to use the larger Hampden Street School pool.
If a pool complex was to be built, the Nayland area was its logical location, having nearly 2,500 children enrolled in schools in the immediate area and more than 6,500 children in the greater Nelson and Richmond area who could make use of it - there was no Richmond Aquatic Centre at this time. It was also surrounded by tracts of orchard land ripe for development, including a 2.25 acre block right next door to the college.
Such a complex would also fill a gap in Nelson, which was considered to have inadequate, unattractive and inferior water sports and recreation facilities compared with other cities. It would be used not only for recreational swimming but also for swimming instruction, school swimming activities, lifesaving instruction, competitive swimming and specialised water sports, including diving and water polo.
The informal discussion Bill Kane had with city councillors that day in the late 1960s led to the germination of a plan that sealed a win-win deal between the Council and the College.
With the the land next to the College purchased, it was agreed the Council would use subsidised employment scheme workers to help install the pool, which would then be heated by the college boiler, conveniently situated just over the back fence from where the pool would be built. The community would get the pool it desired and the college would not have to build one of its own.
In 1970 a public meeting established an organising committee consisting of representatives from the Council, City and Stoke swimming interests, Nayland College PTA, the Nayland College board of governors, Broadgreen Intermediate, Stoke-Tahuna Rotary Club, Stoke Jaycee, Stoke Lions Club and the Master Builders Federation. It was agreed that the estimated $600,000 cost of the project would be jointly shared by the community, the City Council and the Government via the Department of Education.
Over the next few years major fundraising efforts were held to raise the community’s $200,000 project share. The Nayland College PTA alone raised approximately $12,000 with a variety of fundraisers and projects, and in 1970 college students raised $120 with a Nayland Princess Contest.
Construction work began in 1975, with a lot of materials, labour and the use of machinery donated by the community. As the pool took shape, a number of senior college pupils helped out, including sweeping the lane pool prior to its filling.
The large Nayland Pool complex, including lane pool, diving pool and boards, toddler pool and teaching pool, was finally opened by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Alan Highet, before a crowd of around 1,000 people on 10 December 1977. The opening was accompanied by the announcement of a $40,000 Government grant towards the complex, which left a deficit of $100,000 still to be raised.
The pool quickly became a favourite of all ages and water sports, and was the location for many years of police Blue Light discos for youth. It remains a well-used and much loved community asset and the pools’ waters continue to be heated by the Nayland College boiler.
2016 (updated 2021)
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Further sources - Nayland Pool
- Stade. K. (2016) Daring to be Different, The Nayland College Way 1966-2016. Nelson: Nayland College
- Nayland Pool Opens with $40,000 grant. (1977, December 10) Nelson Evening Mail
- New pool for Nayland Road School (1962, February 3) Nelson Photo News, 15, p.57
- Nelson olympic swimming pool complex (1972, November 11) Nelson Photo News, 145, p.9.
- Zealandia Associates Limited. Nayland Park Swimming Complex Fundraising Study and Plan. Nelson Provincial Museum MS2EA.
- Nayland Park Pool. Retrieved 28 Dec 2016.