29 June 2021

Crookwell residents angered as historic pool turns to rubble

| Hannah Sparks
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Demolition of Crookwell Pool facade

Upper Lachlan Shire Council has demolished the historic Crookwell Pool facade. Photo: Brandon Rutter.

Upper Lachlan Shire Council’s decision to demolish the historic Crookwell Pool facade has angered some local residents.

All that remained of the 1949 pool entrance on Monday, 28 June, was rubble.

Local historian Dianne Layden said she is “very concerned” by the demolition because of the facade’s historical significance.

She was the resident in 2019 who requested a plaque be installed on the facade to tell the pool’s history.

While the facade isn’t heritage listed, it had been restored by council with a $4323 Local Heritage Places Grant in 2018.

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The pool and facade were originally built with a substantial council loan following the drownings of 11-year-old Eric Osborne, in 1934, and 14-year-old Barry Cramp, in 1946, in local dams.

Ms Layden said some residents at the time wanted the loan of 7000 pounds (the equivalent of more than $400,000 today) to be spent on improving local roads, electricity and sewage instead of a pool.

However, council pursued the pool – despite being knocked back for grants – to ensure locals had a safe place to swim.

Crookwell and District Historical Society secretary Jenny Painter said she and other members are “very disturbed” to hear another part of their town’s history is lost.

Ms Painter said she sent an email to council in January 2021 advising against the demolition but never heard back.

Crookwell Pool facade

Crookwell Pool facade prior to demolition. Photo: Brandon Rutter.

“As there is very little left of our heritage, we feel this should stay as it is part of our history,” she wrote in her email.

“We have lost buildings, original awnings and memorial gates to name a few. If we lose the beautiful entrance to our swimming pool, it would be nothing less than a tragedy.”

Council’s general manager, Colleen Worthy, said she understood there would be some disappointment in the community regarding the demolition.

“We received feedback from some people who wanted the facade retained, [but] even more feedback from people who didn’t like the facade and were happy for it to be demolished,” she said.

Council said it sent letters to businesses and residents adjoining the pool, and consulted with Crookwell High School, Crookwell Swimming Club, Crookwell Mums and Bubs, and the Creating Real Change accessibility group in December 2020.

It also distributed media releases and an online survey about the new pool. However, those seen by Region Media contained no reference to the demolition.

Council said the demolition makes way for the new pool complex, which includes a heated pool, toddler’s water play, change rooms and a visitor information centre.

Council approved the new $5 million swimming complex in August 2020 after the existing pool failed to meet current safety and environmental standards.

Ms Worthy said the demolition ensures stage one of the new pool complex – a new 25-metre outdoor pool – is open in time for summer.

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Council said the facade’s plaque and sconces (candle/torch holders) will be incorporated into the new pool.

It also said a mural will be painted on the outside walls of the new complex to help tell the history of the site.

Ms Worthy said council expects to hear about its grant application for stage two of the project – which includes a baby pool, heated pool and change rooms – in July.

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McComas Taylor11:57 am 09 Jul 21

So sad to see this. Our community destroying its own heritage…

Dear Editor

I’ll be the first to jump in the metaphorical swimming pool deep end.

For an employee of ULSC to state to your reporter that there was “even more feedback from people who didn’t like the facade and were happy for it to be demolished” is an exercise in dark humour and well within the realms of fake news.

Like many of us I have been contemplating the existential meaning of this council sanctioned outrage & my conclusion fell down very roughly about the term of arrogance.

As the excavator smashed & bricks broke , I saw the shock of the new.

This project could have retained that facade with a different design, not unlike the new doctors surgery retaining the facade of the fire station.

Surely a responsibility we all share is: to retain what is good & only add what is good.

I don’t recall a design competition, so Dianne & Jenny, their children & grandchildren could have a say.

Matt Ford

Roger Gagliardi3:13 pm 29 Jun 21

What is the obsession in this country with demolishing our heritage?

I’m going to maybe go out on a limb here Peter, but could it be a theme that began with the destruction of aboriginal & natural heritage, opening up the guts of the country to exploitation; and has this approach become endemic to the Australian philosophy?

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