New Cumnock Swimming Pool : 1st Season


The renovated New Cumnock Town Hall

Following the recent opening of New Cumnock Town Hall renovated and refurbished  by the Great Steward of Scotland Dumfries House Trust, the Trust’s attention turns to New Cumnock Swimming Pool.  The pool has enjoyed a rejuvenated lease of life under Afton Water Leisure Limited and has ensured this ‘open-aired icon’ is held dear to the hearts of the people of New Cumnock.


Plans for the New Pool

New Cumnock Town Hall was originally built in 1888 and the New Cumnock Swimming Pool built just across the road and opened 80 years later on 1st June 1968. So what was happening in the town at that time?

Leafing through the Cumnock Chronicle of the time the following snippets help tell part of that story.

New Cumnock Swimming Pool 1967

27th January 1967

Cumnock District Council asked architects to report on the heating of the New Cumnock Pool . The lowest offer totalling £1284 17s was from the Electricity Board and under it, heating would cost approximately £750 per season. The local committee recommended the council accept this offer. But after discussion at the monthly meeting of the council the members agreed to go to the question of coal-fired heating.

24th February 1967


  • Electricity Installation £1284 17s and running costs £750 May-Sep
  • Coal fired installation £6,100 and running costs £340 May-Sep

Some of the outstanding work completed.The builders need to know if it is electric or coal. If we installed a boiler house would it interfere with the roof we are going to put over the pool. “Time is going on and the work is stopped at the moment”.

21st April 1967

After about 10 months absence workmen appeared at the swimming pool in the Castle this week. They have been tidying the surrounds of the pool which had been left untouched from last year. We understand a start has been made on the job installing the £6,600 coal-fired heating plant. { Seems there was a change of plan!}

As yet there is no date for the eventual opening of the pool which was originally scheduled for opening on 15th July 1966.

19th May 1967

No one is prepared to commit himself to a positive date for the opening of the swimming pool at the community centre . however our reporter was told there was a chance the pool might open in August for a two or three week season. Even that would be better than having to wait till next summer for the opening originally scheduled for last July.

Meanwhile workmen have been busy laying concrete slabs around the pool . A water chute and a perimeter fence have still to be erected and the water heating equipment has not yet been installed.

23rd June 1967


At their meeting on Monday nigh Cumnock District Council agreed to pay a £325 cancellation charge to South of Scotland Electricity Board. But not without an argument.The charge was levied by the board because the council changed their minds about heating New Cumnock swimming pool after placing an order for electrical heating equipment with the board. They switched to coal-fired heating.

But the Board claimed an order for the equipment had already been placed with a manufacturer. They had in fact been urged by the council to speed the delivery of the equipment to New Cumnock.  The manufacturer cancellation charge was £150 and the balance of the charge was to pay for the designing etc. services to the Board. Many meetings had been held and planning had been well advanced when the order was cancelled.

Old Rubbish! said Drongan Councillor W. Reid “that is a load of old rubbish  – the Board are not usually so quick off their mark. But chairman Hall claimed “The boiler was delivered to New Cumnock before it was cancelled’. Councillor Mrs Allan said “They seem to act more quickly when it suits them”. Chairman “We should not condemn the Board for rushing a job at our request”.

30th June 1967

The themes of the floats (lorries) at the annual New Cumnock Gala Day were renowned for reflecting world events and 1967 was no different.

  • The Town School’s lorry “Common Marketeers” was a reaction to Charles de Gaulle, President of France blunt ‘Non’ to Britain’s application to join the Common Market.
  • Burnton Place’s  lorry “The Greatest” celebrated Celtic’s famous European Cup victory that year along with winning all the domestic competitions in Scotland and claiming the only thing hadn’t won was the Heavy Weight title and the centre-piece of their display was Jock Stein squaring up to Cassius Clay.
  • Lochbrowan Crescent lorry took its name from the topical satirical TV show “The Frost Report” with reference to the outdoor swimming pool at New Cumnock having no heating

25th August 1967

The interior of the pond area of the new swimming pool has now been painted light blue. From the road it looks almost as if the pool was full of water. This has proved confusing to some people – especially the pair who dived into the “depths” only to find themselves counting blue stars!

The New Cumnock pool was to be constructed at the north side of the New Cumnock Community Centre while to the south the extension to Messrs C.W.Hall factory was near to completion.

8th September 1967

There is no truth in the rumour which has been circulating to the effect that the new swimming pool will be for children aged 16 and under. It will be open to the general public regardless of age. Whether you are 5 or 95 you are still welcome to take a dip – when the pool opens next year.

The main topic in the town that summer however was the proposed closure of Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery an act that Alex Timpany, local National Union of Mineworkers delegate branded as ‘This announcement is New Cumnock’s shame’ He went on to explain. ‘But it is only what we predicted when the Coal Board asked for a partial closure of the pit a few weeks ago. We are opposing this move with every resource we can draw on and this time we have the support of our union at the Scottish level.‘ Some 360 men worked at Knockshinnoch while only 196 vacancies were available in other pits  – Barony, Minnivey, Beoch, Pennyvenie, Highhouse and Cairnhill.

New Cumnock Swimming Pool 1968

Hopes of reprieve of sorts for Knockshinnoch were shattered and the pit along with Fauldhead in neighbouring Kirkconnel were closed on 3rd February with a combined loss of 900 jobs while vacancies with unemployment in New Cumnock expected to soar to 17%.

17th May 1968

On the 17th May with the summer season it was reported that the swimming pool would be open within the next 10 days.  The inside of the pool had to be repainted because of chipping and it was hoped to have that completed by the end of the following week. After that filtration experts will visit the pool and set the chlorination level and turn on the heating system.

In the meantime signposts into New Cumnock were adorned with the name ‘Afton Water’ to reinforce the parish’s connection with Robert Burns

The District Council received fourteen  applications for the position of paybox attendant and the successful applicant was Mrs Nisbet, Afton Road. There were two applications for the post of pool assistant and Richard Bain, Greenbraes Drive was offered the job.

1st June 1968

The Council also announced that there had been a further delay in opening but it is hoped that it be open to the public on Saturday 1st June with the official opening ceremony incorporated into the start of the New Cumnock Gala Week.


New Cumnock Swimming Pool and Community Centre  & Tennis Courts

New Cumnock’s new swimming pool quickly became an overnight success and tuition classes were established for the pupils of the Town Junior Secondary School and Cairnhill Primary School. The Chronicle quipping ‘ with the temperature of the water in the 70’s it must be the most popular form of instruction in the school.’ There was also a very successful Tuesday class for ladies learning to swim taken by the poolmaster and two local lads and again The Chronicle couldn’t resist ‘ and we understand that every member of the group can remain afloat’.


Town school pupils enjoying a dip

Midnight Bathing on a Saturday night also proved to be popular initially for adults only, with the exclusion of ‘intoxicated persons’. Seasons tickets were not valid and admission was two shillings (10 pence) for the 10pm – midnight session, with the added attraction of late transport being laid on to ‘the usual places’.  A late night session for children was later introduced with a one shilling admission (5p) for the 9pm -10 pm session.


Senior girls from Town School

An indication of the popularity of the swimming pool was reported by W. Hall, District Councillor in the Chronicle of the 21st June reflecting usage over the opening 2 weeks.

  • Adult Season Tickets: 81 ;  Juvenile Season Tickets: 332
  • Adult Daily Admissions: 2,050 ; Juvenile Admissions 2,859
  • Spectators 3,071
  • Cash draw to last Sunday (16th June): £649 9s 9d
  • The pool cost £18,000 of which the Government paid £10,000 by way of a grant.

A bullish Mr Hall concluded ‘ it certainly isn’t sitting there like an ornament – it is being well used‘.

Final touches were added with coloured wind-breaks erected around the edge of the pool while the front of the pool facing the road was landscaped with grass sown and trees planted. The Chronicle did receive one complaint about the pool but informed its readers that they had refused to publish it because the letter was unsigned and anonymous.

The opening of the new swimming pool made it a very special Gala Week in the history of New Cumnock and the honour of being New Cumnock Community Gala Queen that year fell to Miss Irene Rorison, Polquheys Road. Her attendants that year were

  • Herald: Donald Nisbet
  • Crown Bearer: Robert Park
  • Ladies in Waiting : Mary Brown & Aileen Goudie
  • Train Bearers: Grace Hanlon & Margaret Burns
  • Pages: James McLintock, Alex Hamilton, James Davidson
  • Community Queen of 1967: Miss Amelia Gilmour


Mrs Douglas, the wife of Mr Douglas, Headmaster of New Cumnock Junior Secondary Junior Secondary crowns Gala Queen Irene Rorrison at Greenhead Park.


The Westland Drive lorry wins 1st prize in the most original prize for ‘Death of an Industry’ a stark reminded of the closure of Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery.


The Redree Place lorry retained their 1st place in ‘Best Dressed’ category with Cinderella – and that looks my big pal Brian Clapperton as Prince Charming.


Some of the Gala Day walkers congregate at Greenhead Park.


With the schools closing for the summer it was the chance for a Parents ‘open’ day at the Town School and here Miss Anne Boyle is showing some of the pupils of Primary 2 work.



  • The Cumnock Chronicle 1967-1968
  • The Great Steward of Scotland Dumfries House Trust

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