The reinstatement of the famous harbour pool and boardwalk came closer this month with a $100,000 NSW Government grant received by the Council to undertake a Masterplan for the area. For years Good For Manly has been advocating for the pool to be reinstated, with plans drawn up by eco architect Maurice Patten. Now, thanks to the support of Local Member James Griffin, this community-lead project is back on the agenda.
The Masterplan will include extensive community consultation and consideration of this environmentally sensitive area. First, here's a reminder of how things used to be.
SEVEN MILES FROM SYDNEY - AND A THOUSAND MILES FROM CARE ...
Picture the excitement as families rushed off the Manly ferry, hurried over the boardwalk and jumped into Sydney’s biggest harbour pool.
Crowds of happy people would be eating ice-cream on the walkway, diving from the pontoons and high boards and spilling off the slippery dips and treadmills; shrieking and splashing.
From the early 1930’s locals and tourists alike flocked to the free public pool, dubbed the ‘best swimming pool in Australia’. Thrill-seekers sought out the high dive platforms and 15m waterslide and a generation of Sydneysiders swam and played in the protected waters behind the shark nets.
There were spacious changerooms and plenty of tearooms for afterwards. At night, from 1932, floodlights above and below the water lit the promenade and turned the water green.
At its peak, over 250,000 visitors came to the baths every year, boosting local businesses which offered fun rides and speed-boat trips, as well as food and drink.
The pool justified Manly’s famous slogan: ‘Seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care’, and the village revelled in its prime holiday destination status.
Originally constructed in 1931 by the Port Jackson Steamship Company, the boardwalk survived the wartime years but, by the mid ‘60s, maintenance needs were rising and there was talk of demolishing the structure.
In May 1974 a severe autumn gale pre-empted the decision and destroyed the boardwalk so thoroughly that then owners, Brambles Industries, had no choice but to remove everything.
YOU CAN VIEW A WONDERFUL SHORT DOCUMENTARY ON THE HISTORY OF THE POOL, produced by local Marian Hambly, HERE
And here's our video of ideas for a new green, family friendly harbour pool precinct. More details here.
Manly‘s iconic harbour pool and boardwalk were destroyed more than 40 years ago when Sydney was hit by one of the worst storms in recorded history.
Manly locals have never forgotten the much-loved swim spot. Finally, we're a step closer to getting it back.
The Northern Beaches Deputy Mayor and Good For Manly President Candy Bingham has spent several years developing a masterplan for the entire West Promenade area.
The plan, put together by architect Maurice Patten, includes a boardwalk stretching from Manly Wharf to the former Sea Life Sanctuary; a huge calm-water swimming area with pontoons as well as a lap-swimming section; an environmental sea-grass area and a little penguin protected zone. On land there would be landscaping and a focus on art and culture, anchored by the existing Manly Art Gallery and Museum; as well as a future use for the aquarium site, vacated by the Sea Life Sanctuary earlier this year.
Now the State Government has come to the party with Manly MP James Griffin announcing a $100,000 heritage grant for the council to take the work further. This will include extensive community consultation, an updated plan and costings for the potential project.
“I’m so excited that this is moving forward,” Cr Bingham said. “There was such a gap when the boardwalk was destroyed, and it’s never really been filled.”
“Manly has always been famous for its ocean beaches, but a lot of people prefer to swim where it’s a bit more sheltered, and they know they are safe from sharks.
“As well the boardwalk would connect up the Federation Point area - where Sea Life Sanctuary was - which gets overlooked. We have the art gallery and cafes and restaurants in a wonderful location there. A boardwalk would make it easy for tourists, and locals, to spread out more and enjoy that part of Manly as well.“
Check out our photo gallery and history article here.
It was disappointing that at its December meeting Manly Council rejected outright the idea of perusing a feasibility plan to have a Harbour Pool re-created in Manly Cove West.
However the argument that "Maritime, who are the landowner, have totally rejected the plan" is completely inaccurate (See attached letter below)
On May 3, Council received a letter from Roads & Maritime Services that not only set out what would need to be done as part of a feasibility plan for the idea but also stated "Roads and Maritime .... will consider any formal proposal from Manly Council to re-establish a boardwalk and pool".
The new-look pool and boardwalk concept plan is an idea that has been well-researched by Good For Manly with a professionally designed eco-friendly pool, rather than the massive structures of the 'Wonder Pool' of days gone-by. We believe it is an idea that is worthy of proper investigation and consideration rather than a knee-jerk refusal.
What do you think?
Is it necessary and justified for Manly Council to spend $16m to effectively create an indoor 25 metre pool, a fitness centre and covered carpark on the site of the Boy Charlton Swim Centre in Balgowlah Road?
Many locals don't think so, but the Mayor has been quick to dismiss their opinions. Jean Hay was recently quoted in the Manly Daily as saying, "for anyone to knock this, get your head out of the sand."
It has now been revealed that even the Councillors hadn't been consulted nor have they voted on the proposed redevelopment, even though General Manager Henry Wong has been busy applying for loans.
It's another example of the Wong/Hay approach of overwhelming lack of community consultation in recent times that has residents outraged and frustrated. For example, we understand that no consultation took place with regular users of the pool in relation to this new proposal either. But what would they know, they only use the facility.
In contrast, Good for Manly has developed a Swimming Strategy for Manly which includes the rebuilding of the Harbour Pool, and upgrading of other major swimming locations in Manly, including the Manly Swim Centre which clearly is in need of major maintenance.
You can download our strategy here. Give us your ideas and feedback, we welcome it.
_Were you living in Manly when we had the old Harbour Pool? A documentary by local Marian Hambly on "Reflections of Manly Pool" which will be shown at Manly Fishos Tuesday 10th January*, will no doubt rekindle the debate as to whether a proper harbour pool and walkway linking the wharf and Oceanworld should be reinstated as a way to revitalise Manly Cove.
(Showing at Manly Fishos, Raglan Street, 7 for 7.30pm. $10 to support Eco Divers and Two Hands Project.)
What do you think? Do you remember the old harbour pool? What would need to be done today to make such a facility more environmentally-friendly for example?
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.