On the 29th June 1933 Mrs Tubb officially opened the newly built open-air swimming pool behind Bridge House, where NatWest bank stands today at the end of Causeway.
Under the bright sunshine the emerald-green water and gleaming white walls proved to be most inviting and soon swimmers of both sexes, adults and children alike, had lined up along one side of the pool. 808 people attended the event, and lots were drawn to determine who should be the first two to enter the water and receive a prize of ten shillings each. The lucky winners, Leading Aircraftman Harris, from RAF Bicester, and Mr Victor Schafer, of Grendon Underwood, on the signal from Mrs Tubb, entered the water at the deep end (Mr Schafer still fully dressed and complete with silk topper!), immediately followed by another 50 swimmers. “In the sunshine a polychromatic scene was presented by the vivid hues of the costumes worn, the flags and the decorative shrubs and flowers.”
We know it wasn’t the first public pool in the town because John Dunkin’s history of the town states that in the 18th century a wool-comber constructed one in St John’s Street. But a cottage was eventually built on it and, for many years, the closest thing Bicester residents had to a Lido was a disused quarry just off the Bucknell Road.
The idea of constructing a purpose-built pool was first mooted in the 1920s and then adopted in 1933, partly to provide work for a number of unemployed men during the Depression. The land already belonged to the Urban Council and the project cost a total of £986, £600 of which made up wages of the workforce. £400 had been raised by loans from the trustees and the remainder was collected from various fund-raising events. Work started on the 27th March 1933, but fund raising continued until well after the opening, including an ox-roast in November 1935.
The pool remained in use until the Bicester and Ploughley Sports Centre was opened on the 7th March 1970. It even came in handy on the 20th February 1969 when Ashmore’s shop caught fire and the firemen used water from the pool, via a hose laid along Market Square, to put the fire out before it spread to neighbouring buildings.