The pool history

Workers from the nearby abattoirs had founded a group called the Abattoirs Charity Club in the 1920s. The dam in the area of Lansell St was used by the members and their children for swimming, and the need for a proper swimming pool for the recreational use of the local community was identified. A Progress Association was formed to further social infrastructure development in the East Bendigo area, under the leadership of the President, Mr J.P. (Jack) Tully. In 1931, a pool was opened on the current site, in the market reserve. This pool was sand based, with redgum sides and diving boards on each side. The Progress Association were also crucial to the development of other facilities in the precinct, including the Progress Association Hall and the Bendigo East Bowling Club.

In the early 1940s, lights on poles were erected around the pool and further improvements were carried out with the help of workers from local factories. The pool became longer and deeper, being extended to 50 yards in length, and the sides were concreted to a depth of 3 feet. The timber from the old pool walls was used to build a kiosk on the present site. In 1944, it was noted to be the most modern pool in Victoria, and was officially opened by the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Bendigo, Mr A.E. Cook.

The origins of the swimming club

Alwyn Nelson was serving in the Armed Forces in 1944 when he heard that his step brother, Kevin Boucher, had gained a place in the Victorian Junior Diving Championships. This had been made possible because of the support and sponsorship of the Marist Brothers College, for whom he had given exhibitions when they were conducting their carnivals at Bendigo East. In 1946, the Central Victorian District Swimming Association came into being, as the authority for organised swimming competitions and events in the region. Only registered swimmers were allowed to participate in official swim meets, from which came qualification for Country and State championships.

The idea to form a swimming club so that others could do the same as his step brother led Alwyn Nelson to become the driving force behind the establishment of the Bendigo East Swimming Club on October 14th 1948. Alwyn Nelson remained Foundation President of the Bendigo East Swimming Club, and Central Victorian Swimming District official, from 1948 to 1965.

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Life Members of BESC

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JP Tully

Mr and Mrs JP Tully