Yearsley Pool is a national treasure. Don’t sacrifice it to the new stadium
York’s largest pool is under threat. Fiona Evans, of the Yearsley Pool Action Group, says losing it would be a huge mistake
Yearsley Pool is no ordinary pool. It is unique, and a proud part of the Rowntree legacy and history of our city.
This Edwardian facility was gifted to York’s citizens in 1909 by Rowntree & Co Ltd and has provided over 100 years of faithful public service towards the health, fitness, sporting talent and water safety of the York community.
It is not only a vital community asset, it is a national treasure and deserves to be valued for all it provides.
Although the pool is more than 100 years old, it is no museum piece. It still provides a vital and irreplaceable service, especially with the backdrop of river deaths, sedentary lifestyles, rising obesity levels, and the associated impacts on national and local health services.
York’s largest pool
Yearsley Pool is York’s only large, long length pool. This makes it the best pool for clubs, endurance and fitness swimming.
A 25m pool cannot provide the same benefits, and is inadequate for the needs of a wide range of user groups.
Yearsley is the only pool long enough for swimmers to overtake /swim at their own pace without collisions and continual turning. This maximises the benefits of the exercise.
It is the only pool large enough to meet the needs of certain sports eg canoe polo. If Yearsley is lost, the sport of canoe polo in Yorkshire will be lost, and they have got youngsters all the way through to world championship level representing Great Britain.
National canoe polo players travel from all over the country to hold their tournaments at Yearsley Pool on Saturday evenings between September and April.
Triathletes, scuba divers, underwater hockey teams, general canoeists and York City Baths Club (amongst others) will all suffer if the facility is lost, as the size and length of the pool is beneficial to them.
Yearsley is YCBC’s only long-length training facility. If children are to build the necessary stamina to compete in 50m pools, they need a 50 yard facility, rather than a 25m pool.
York’s community pool
Yearsley is also a good pool for the frail, nervous and disabled to swim in, as it provides the space to avoid collisions.
The pool is conveniently located close to the city centre, residential areas, workplaces and schools making it convenient to use, and it cuts car use. Fourteen schools use Yearsley Pool – some local schools walk to the facility.
Although the pool is subsidised, in the bigger picture it saves money for local health services and elderly care services. It saves lives and nurtures the talent of our children.
The subsidy of £250,000 per year sounds a lot to an ordinary citizen, but in reality only represents 0.2% of the council’s total annual revenue budget, a small sum compared to all the benefits this large pool provides to the community, especially in a city that lies at the confluence of two rivers.
There is a real sense of community and social contact at this pool, and it is held in great affection by the countless generations that have learnt to swim there.
Irrespective of how many new, pretty small pools are built in York, they cannot possibly replace the service that Yearsley’s long length, large capacity pool provides.
York’s good value pool
Yearsley Pool received a superb £1.2 million refurbishment in 2007 and new boilers in 2012. This was a major upgrade that included renewing the roof, walls, plant room, and fitments.
If this much loved facility was to close, not only would it be a loss to the community, it would also represent a scandalous waste of public money.
The action group does not oppose the need for a new football and rugby stadium. We want all sports to flourish.
Built by Rowntree & Co in 1908 and gifted by deed to the citizens of York on 4th May 1909
It replaced an old bath in the River Foss downstream of Yearsley Bridge
The new pool was originally open-air
The facility was modernised in 1964/5 when it was roofed over
The pool tank is relatively unaltered and the poolside cubicles retain many original features
Source: York Local List
What we oppose is the injustice of Yearsley Pool becoming entangled in this process and being offered as a sacrifice to facilitate it.
The council says it cannot afford to subsidise a public health facility like Yearsley Pool, which is about participation from all sections of society from babies to the elderly.
However, the Labour council is happy to provide 100% of the leisure subsidy (£323,000 per annum) to support the stadium for private spectator sports, principally football.
The council will also be paying £360,000 interest per annum (affecting revenue) from 2016/2017 as a result of borrowing the £4 million it is putting towards the new complex.
If that’s the case fine, all we are asking for is equality of treatment and a meaningful commitment to the future of Yearsley Pool as was originally promised by James Alexander.
Waterworld users have not been consulted over the new pool plans. The existing fun pool complemented Yearsley’s more serious swimming environment, and its loss will disappoint many children.
We believe the new 25m pool was designed to replace both Waterworld and Yearsley Pool, rather than to complement. Why else would the Labour council give zero subsidy to Yearsley Pool in 2016, just before the new complex opens?
Good morning, I am a York born person, I learned to swim at Yearsley when I attended Haxby road Infant & Junior School. I am now 75 yrs of age, I have a defribulating heart therefore walking etc is no good for me. What times do you have for the likes of me to use the pool without being a nuisance to others.
I see from searching the web that you are on the “save the Yearsley pool” once again.Although I spend my time between Canada,South Korea,And the far East,I still find time to go swimming,as regularly as I can,please let me know if I can help your great cause from my end in any way possible,
Regards to Paul and Naomi
I think there are couple of questions need answering
1. When was future Yearsley Pool first linked with issue Stadium?
2. And who knew about it
It would be very disappointing to discover users, staff and local residents were kept in dark until last minute if “people” have known about this for very long time. Or has this been plan all along and various parties in cahoots trading positions to advance agendas?
I would hope there are minutes of any official meetings and council required to retain documents pertaining to discussions with private companies and 3rd parties. Perhaps an investigative journalist would be able to obtain?
I also fear people concerned over future pool have been deliberately manoeuvred to be at loggerheads with those keen to see new stadium. In my opinion it should be yes to new Stadium, no redundancies for staff and guarantees for future Yearsley pool.
A few years back,- when Fisons’s U.K. persuaded me that their product Intal would prevent the advent of ‘exercise induced asthma’ I asked Peter Stringer (Their sales person) IF HE COULD GET FISONS U.K.TO ‘PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTH WAS!
He did so and both Yearsley Pool (under Mr Dale) and St John’s Pool (under Peter Kendrew) were used to initiate the innovation.
Fisons brought in David Wilkie and Alan Pascoe (Olympic athletes) who helped set up groups in Leeds Cork (Ireland). The first lessons were given by Pauline Clarkson (one of York’s Olympic trialists and her husband Alan (British Olympic Manager)
There followed many more groups and the children all did wonderfully well with no cases of asthma over several years.
The York group was taken round many doctor’s symposia,- eventually ending in a huge International Symposium in Oslo where specialists in pulmonary disorders from all over the globe (including Japan) were in attendance. Two young swimmers from every British groups were flown out to compete with the Norwegian children in front of the medical experts for three days at Fison’s expense.
Bring back James Alexander? This is a cause worth fighting, and the article puts the argument beyond doubt.