MEMORY LANE: Buxton Crescent pool bid makes a splash

A Buxton Carnival parade from the 1930s passes The Crescent.
A Buxton Carnival parade from the 1930s passes The Crescent.

Pick up a copy of the Buxton Advertiser from 1933 and you might be surprised to experience a feeling of déjà vu.

The October 21 edition featured an article under the headlines ‘Crescent Cinema Scheme’, ‘Open-air swimming pool to be included’ and ‘Powerful magnet for residents and visitors’.

It reported how plans for an open-air swimming pool with a sliding glass roof on top of the cinema building were a main feature of a new scheme to convert the Crescent Hotel into “a magnificent place of entertainment for Buxton’s residents and visitors”.

Plans had been made by the late Mr W. Allan Milton for the transformation of the building, including a so-called ‘super cinema’ to seat over 1,000 people, dance assembly rooms, a cafe, licensed bar and snack bar.

All of these were contained in the “considerably extended” scheme by British Capital Trust Ltd, according to the newspaper, with the addition of the pool, a tea balcony and cafe, and a restaurant.

The article states: “Reconstructed in this manner, the Crescent Hotel would certainly prove a powerful magnet for visitors and new residents - more powerful even than Mr Milton’s original scheme would have made it, for there can be no doubt about the popularity of an open-air swimming pool among a large section of the visiting and resident population.

“The chief objection to such a scheme has been based on the fickleness of Buxton weather, but the provision of a sliding roof should enable the bathers to enjoy themselves even when cold breezes are blowing over the moors.”

By now, the Crescent Hotel, which occupied the east wing of Buxton’s most famous building, had stood empty for more than two years.

Ironically, this was not the only open-air swimming pool being proposed for Buxton at that time - plans for a similar scheme for the Pavilion Gardens were also being discussed.

But the Crescent plans were certainly groundbreaking - aiming to create the first swimming pool in the country to be placed above a cinema and also the first in the country to have a telescopic glass roof (several on the Continent had already been equipped with such a device).

The article continues: “When the weather permits, the roof (made in four sections) can be drawn back by machinery, one section sliding over another, within the space of a minute - and thus the pool will be open to the sky.”

And referring to the swimming pool itself, it states: “The dimensions of the actual water surface of the pool will be 75 feet by 35 feet... with the tea balcony at the Crescent end, seating 100 people and leading through to a cafe on the second floor of the building.

“Diving boards and chutes will be constructed at this end of the pool; at the opposite end, nearest to George Street, there will be two “joy-splashes” for children, and tiers of seats for spectators will line each side.

“Changing room accommodation will be provided for 300 people.”

The Crescent was built between 1789 and 1796 by the then Duke of Devonshire at a cost of £120,000.