‘Very smart’ was how Princess Anne described the Pavilion Gardens’ new £290,000 swimming pool when she officially opened the new Buxton leisure facility on November 16, 1972.
Arriving in the Peak District on the royal train, the Princess’s first port of call was the Hope Valley. Stepping off the train at Hope station, she travelled by motorcade to Losehill Hall National Park Study Centre in Castleton along a route lined by flag-waving school pupils.
After unveiling a plaque to mark the opening of the centre, she was given a souvenir - an engraved paperweight made of 200-million-year-old Blue John fluorspar from Castleton’s Treak Cliff Cavern.
Back in Buxton, interest in the Princess’s impending arrival began building up shortly after 11am when parts of the route to be taken by the royal party were already dotted with people.
Describing the scenes, the Advertiser of Friday November 24 reported: “One of the first areas to show a good number of people was The Quadrant where girls from Cavendish Grammar School stretched from Devonshire Road to past the post office. They were soon joined by passers-by anxious to get a roadside position.
“At exactly two minutes past noon, a murmur went up and two police motorcyclists with glaring lights appeared followed shortly afterwards by R1 driving very slowly with the Princess inside waving.
“Many people then went off at a trot towards the Pavilion Gardens, arriving too late to see the Princess as she got out of the Rolls.
“Having been foiled there, spectators began a mass convergence on the Gardens, and many stood in the flowerbeds in an attempt to peer inside the building.
“As the Princess moved through the Pavilion, the crowd kept pace with her outside. The most often uttered comments were: “Isn’t she beautiful”, “Isn’t she like her mum” and “She’s much slimmer than I thought”.
A civic reception greeted the Princess just inside the entrance to the Gardens. She proceeded to walked through the Gardens towards the swimming pool, stopping to talk to St John Ambulance Brigade cadets, who formed a guard of honour, and patients from the Devonshire Royal Hospital.
“The route was chiefly lined with young people,” reported the Advertiser.
“The Princess stopped a number of times both on her way to the pool and back, to speak to various children and others.”
Officially opening the swimming pool, the Princess said: “I would like to wish everyone who will use the facilities here every success and a lot of fun.”
And aware of the town’s ‘Spa of Blue Waters’ tag, she quipped “As a spa town, I am sure you already have a very healthy population.
“The only thing that worries me about the pool being filled with spa water you could have too much of a good thing, and I would hate to read in future of Buxton being a town of Blue People.”
Afterwards, a swimming demonstration was performed for the Princess in the pool by pupils from local schools including Burbage Primary, Whaley Bridge Primary, Buxton College and Silverlands. It culminated with them forming the letters ‘A’ for Anne and ‘HRH’ in the water.
Also during her visit to Buxton, the Princess enjoyed lunch at the Palace Hotel and a tour of The Crescent, part of which was to become the new quarters for the divisional library. She was particularly impressed by the Adam Room.
Afterwards, the royal was whisked away in her large black Rolls along Manchester Road and Long Hill to Woodford Aerodrome.