Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Personal Celebration of the Royal Commonwealth Pool’s 50th Birthday

Words by Peter Heatly and images by kind permission of the Heatly family


On this day in 1970, HRH Princess Anne carried out the official opening of the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.

After my Dad retired from competitive diving in 1958 he had a vision that Edinburgh could host the British Empire and Commonwealth Games (as they were called then). Soon after he was elected as both an Edinburgh Councillor and a member of the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland, and together with many others, including Herbert Brechin and Willie Carmichael, they set about bringing the Games to Edinburgh.

In 1970 this happened and The Royal Commonwealth Pool became an iconic landmark of Edinburgh. Generations have enjoyed this wonderful facility with Olympic Gold Medallist Milena Duchkova of Czechoslovakia diving at the opening ceremony. The British Commonwealth Games later that year were a huge success and two world records were broken in the Pool.

The Australians were awesome and Scotland's David Wilkie became the first ever swimmer to wear goggles in an international event! The Games returned in 1986 (only two cities have hosted the Games twice, Edinburgh was the first) and as Glasgow did not have a facility the diving was held along the M8 at the Pool in 2014 making it the only venue to have been used at 3 Commonwealth Games.

My nephew James competed in his first Games as his Grandpa looked on at his 17th consecutive and final Games. Four generations of our family have used the Pool for various activities (5 if you count my Grandpa spectating and enjoying the Cafe).

As I celebrate the Pool's Birthday today I will be thinking of my Dad's contribution and reflecting on many happy times we as a family have had there.

Happy 50th Birthday and here's hoping for many more.

At the 50th birthday celebration, it was apt that Sir Peter's grandson James, was there to cut the cake.