Sunday, 30 September 2012

Central Park Leisure Pools - A Hidden View

On the day of the brand new Plymouth Life Centre opening, a strange twist of fate led to the opportunity to photograph the swift demise of the Central Park Pools. Taking a brief break from a full day trying out the new facilities I popped outside mid-afternoon to take advantage of the clear blue skies to capture some photographs of the old buildings only to find the fencing compound open along with a door to the main pool area. Thinking it must be workmen, I walked into a corridor with alarm bells ringing out & walked into the pool area shouting 'Hello' only to be greeted by a few teenagers who were about to hoist a ladder up to the high dive board. Upon seeing me they scarpered back to the park so I set about taking a few photos whilst waiting for security to come. My theory being that someone would already have been notified of the alarm, then my presence may dissuade the lads to come back & climb that ladder, & run the risk of falling in the almost empty pool which would have caused serious injury as it was let alone climbing higher.

End of an era
Inside the open door I came across
Fire exit from the main pool area, alarm bells blaring  - time to take a look
Barriers lying at the bottom of the deserted pool
Raised spectator seating lies empty
At the deep end of photo reportage

I quickly realised & to amazement, that the buildings was already becoming pretty vandalised within such a short space of time & let's make one thing clear, none of the kids was trashing stuff when I disturbed them so whoever was responsible we will never know - I'll touch on this again a little later in the post. Around 15 minutes had passed & the silence was rudely interrupted by the sound of the doors slamming shut. At this point I was on the diving board section & ran back thinking it was security locking back up only to hear several loud thuds against the door. When I reached the door, it was checkmate for the teenagers had returned & jammed the entry with around 10 barriers & stood with smug grins - okay think.....I'm barricaded in........may as well take some more photos then & wait for the cavalry of yellow jackets to arrive!

In the shadows of it's former glory
Numbered lanes
.75m shallow pool
Deserted shallow pool 
The play park outside buzzing with families oblivious to the blaring alarm that is pounding my eardrums

Apart from the obvious barriers that had been thrown in the pools, there hadn't been much damage but the first floor in parts was full of glass from broken cabinets & glass door panels. A couple of fire extinguishers had been let off  & I found that most of the lighting in the building was turned on, another hazard for kids scrabbling about in a derelict building intent on wreaking havoc, live electrics aren't to be taken lightly & a phone call was made to a contact at the Life Centre to get the building locked down & returned to taking photos while waiting for the security firm to arrive. Time to get up close & personal with the diving platforms!

Walkway to the spectators area littered with broken glass
No barefeet today!
Follow the yellow hand rail
The dizzy heights of the dive platforms
Dive dummy

No longer in use
Here it is - Tom Daley's old dive platform!
Overlooking the six lane pool
The dive pool from the top platform

The dive platforms offered an amazing view of the derelict complex, the height for me wasn't a problem but there would be no way I would even jump from that height into a full pool. After taking in the views from above, it was over to the spectators seating area to soak up the alarming atmosphere.

Time to get the spectators view

Here we are

Silent rows

The derelict scene on a busy Saturday afternoon

Silence in the changing rooms

Shower humour

An hour later - alarm still blaring & flashing

Fire doors

Gym Tots area

Height chart

It was just over an hour later I found a way out of the building by the rear entrance where the kids had also barricaded to an extent, but with many sites like this, climbing has come in to play & on my return to the outside I was greeted by more kids trying to get in. I locked the door behind me so will never know if they regained access. None of the teenagers were hostile, more inquisitive as to why I was taking photos & I explained about make a photo archive of the building. Their response about the building getting trashed was 'It's getting demolished anyway'!

Goodbye Central Park Pools

So there it is, documented by accident & now gone forever. I waited around for another ten minutes & still no sign of security so headed back to the Life Centre to notify them & it was swiftly dealt with, although more kids managed to gain entry again later that month from what a contractor told us, to begin another wrecking spree & smashing further windows. C'est la vie!


  1. Another brilliant document. Thank you. At the time the Mayflower centre was opened I was working for Calor Gas as a delivery driver / fitter. To mark the opening there was a commercial exhibiton of businesses in the main sports arena. After delivering equipment through the rear/side door that faced Milehouse bus depot I went to drive my lorry away and ripped off a brand new Mayflower centre door..........ooooooopps !

  2. Awww, I saw this while passing through Plymouth in August but wasn't able to investigate :( nice report and very luck timing though, thanks :)

  3. Nice post dude! Sounds like a pretty eventful visit!