The Lost Pool of Plymouth Ballards where everyone learned to swim

The Pool was one of the first major buildings created under Spanish architect David Mackay’s vision for Plymouth

Who remembers Ballards? For any elementary school kid in the 90s who attended the council’s compulsory swimming lessons, this was where you went. Ok, so the facilities weren’t exactly up to Life Center standards, but they were sufficient (although the water was a little cold). The Ballards Center was demolished in 2003, making way for the modern Ocean Crescent block of apartments which now occupy the town center site.

In front of the swimming pool stood the Ballard Institute, destroyed during enemy bombing during World War II. Created by one of the city’s most famous philanthropists, Archie (Albert Cassanova) Ballard, the building, intended to provide young boys with activities to keep them off the streets, was opened in 1928 – just over d a decade before the start of the war – and was therefore a great loss for the region.

It was eventually replaced by a ‘new’ Ballard Center as part of Plymouth’s post-war redevelopment, but that too is now long gone. Now stands a large apartment building, which in 2021 turned out to have been built with combustible cladding and insulation.

The swimming pool was one of the first major buildings created under Spanish architect David Mackay’s vision for Plymouth.

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