Village Swimming Pool Our community pool

“If you really love something, that never dies, and it never goes away. And that’s what it’s like with swimming”; Becky Adlington, (British Olympic gold medalist London 2012).

The first pool

Living so close to the river and the sea it’s essential that our children learn to swim, and for many years swimming lessons have been an important part of the school curriculum. There wasn’t a public pool in Kingsbridge until the 1990’s, but there has been a pool here at Aveton Gifford Primary School for over 50 years. The first pool was built in 1965 in part of the playground by the original school buildings for the princely sum of £600! £250 of this came from Government funding, but the remaining £350 came from local donations – the Parochial Church Council gave half the proceeds of their Summer Fete, the Cricket Club held a barn dance and gave half the proceeds from that, and the rest came in from voluntary subscriptions.

The official opening in 1965.

The official opening in 1965.

The first pool was a raised wooden tank-like structure with a liner and a ladder to get in and out, and although it was very small it was just big enough for lessons and for children to swim a length without their feet touching the bottom. It was even big enough for an annual swimming sports day with races, although parents coming to watch did get fairly wet as well!

The new pool

By 1991 the pool had served the school very well in the 26 years since it was built but it was requiring quite a lot of annual maintenance, also the original school building was about to undergo major work which would double its size and encroach on the site of the pool. It was obvious to Tony Bishop, the headmaster, that it needed to be replaced elsewhere with something more up-to-date. He enlisted the support of the school governors and the PTA, and over the next couple of years some land behind the school was acquired, funding was negotiated, and the new pool was built, mainly by a group of parents led by Paul Holmes who was PTA chairman at the time.

Headmaster Tony Bishop running the school swimming sports 1993

Headmaster Tony Bishop running the school swimming sports 1993

The intention right from the start was that this new pool would be for the use of the whole community; since it was opened on a lovely sunny afternoon in June 1993 by local TV celebrity Ron Bendall, many more of our children have learned to swim in it in the summer term, and it has been used in the evenings and during the summer holidays by local residents. For a small place we have been really lucky to have the pool, and one of the best sounds in the village during summer months is the sound of children’s voices really enjoying themselves!

Our community pool

In 2011 our primary school in the village became a member of a co-operative Federation. After several years the managers considered closing the pool down altogether, but at this point the parish council stepped in to negotiate a lease; it will be run by the community rather than the school for the use of residents in the parish, or families who don’t live in the parish but whose children go to either the primary school or the Hive pre-school, and the school will still be able to use it for lessons as it always has during term time.  More information, pool rules and membership applications can be downloaded here;  pool rules and membership agreement 2017

Everything painted, mended, serviced, cleaned, and ready to go - Spring 2016

Everything painted, mended, serviced, cleaned, and ready to go – Spring 2016

After the parish council took the pool over, various improvements were made to equipment, principally to the filtration system and to the solar panels which provide heating to the water. This ensures that the pool is now much warmer than in previous years, regularly in the lower 20 degrees range, often much higher during heat waves, and is enough to keep it open for an extra month during part of the autumn term as well.

Tony Porter generously gave a large proportion of the proceeds of the 2015 Classic Car Show to pay for an automatic dosing system which tests the water throughout the day, and administers the right amounts of pool chemicals to keep the pH levels correct and the water safe and clean.

The next thing will be to install a solar powered circulation pump to further reduce electricity costs, and soon we will have to renew the all-weather cover.

Fund raising and the Bantham Swoosh

Bantham Swoosh 2017

Aerial view of the start - 2016 (Anna Barclay)

Aerial view of the start – 2016 (Anna Barclay)

It’s always been an expensive business to run our own small pool, but the benefits it offers have been well worth it, and ever since it was first built the community has been very generous in all the various fund raising drives for repairs and equipment. However various cuts have reduced school funding, and now, with more expensive chemicals, essential maintenance on purification and heating systems, electricity and water charges, and the annual refurbishment at the beginning of each season, as well as the upgrading of equipment, it is more of a challenge to raise the necessary funds.

Off down to Bantham - 2015

Off down to Bantham – 2015

In 2015 the Outdoor Swimming Society organised the first Bantham Swoosh, for 400 people to swim down the river on the high tide from Aveton Gifford to Bantham. This first wild swim on the Avon was such a success that it was repeated in 2016; this time 600 people took to the water on the evening tide.  It has now become an annual event, and in 2017, the OSS supported our pool by offering sponsorship through the sale of tickets. The Swoosh was held on Saturday 24th June, and there were swims down the river on either the morning or evening high tides. The organisers kindly offered free tickets for six people if they raised sponsorship money for our community pool; tickets went on sale from 7am on March 21st, there was tremendous interest this year, and all tickets were sold by early afternoon!

Thank you

Six people kindly offered to raise money for our pool – we are most grateful to them all. At the end of the two swims they had raised a fantastic £2,500 in donations, so we would like to thank them and all of their generous friends and families. You have made a terrific difference to our pool, and even while the fundraising was going on, the promise of those funds meant that we could make an emergency repair and keep the pool open for the season. As you’ll have seen this pool has been open since 1993, and even though all the equipment had been rigorously checked before we opened this year, in June there was a disaster! The casing of the original sand filter split overnight, and by the time it was discovered first thing next day, water had sprayed over all the filtration equipment in the pump room. It was a Saturday morning, but Peter Smith managed to get Harris Pools to order replacements asap for all the damaged equipment, and they came out to fix it all on the Tuesday! Since then, the pool has been in constant use, only closing for the winter in mid September when the weather changed. Thank you so much to the OSS and swimmers for supporting us with this fundraising – it’s been very gratefully received, and this summer the school was able to offer swimming lessons on most days, and Community Pool Members could swim every evening and weekend.

The Swoosh will take place again in 2018  on the morning tides of Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th July. Further details will be available nearer the time.




  • 1993 - the official opening......

    1993 - the official opening......

  • ....and now open for use

    ....and now open for use

  • Tony Bishop's first swimming sports day in our new pool - 1993

    Tony Bishop's first swimming sports day in our new pool - 1993

  • A birthday party

    A birthday party

  • Aquarobics!


  • Enjoying the pool during the summer holidays.

    Enjoying the pool during the summer holidays.

  • 400 people gathering in Timbers before the start of the 2016 Swoosh.

    400 people gathering in Timbers before the start of the 2016 Swoosh.

  • Swoosh 2016 - down to the river......

    Swoosh 2016 - down to the river......

  • ....... and waiting to set off (Anna Barclay).

    ....... and waiting to set off (Anna Barclay).

  • Making a splash!

    Making a splash!

Contact Details

For more information please contact:

Tim Abrahall - general enquiries
Tel: 01548 559144

Peter Smith - for reporting faults or damage
Tel: 01548 550272


All the maintenance and servicing of equipment has been done ready for the 2017 season, and now the weather is improving we are good to go! The water quality has been sampled by Harris Pools who service all our pool equipment, and the new automatic dosing system tests the level of the pool chemicals three times during the day, adding the purification liquids as and when required to ensure that the pool is always safe and clean for everyone to use. Now that the solar panels are making a difference to the water temperature keeping it regularly at 20' and over, the pool will be open for the summer from the first week in May.

As with last year, we also hope to keep the pool open for at least another month after the beginning of the Autumn term.

Opening times;
The pool may only be used out of school hours between the following times;
during term time;
weekdays - 5pm to 9pm
weekends - 10am to 9pm.
during the school holidays;
weekdays - 9am to 9pm
weekends - 10am to 9pm.

We will publish the opening and closing dates, and further information here on the website, and on the Aveton Gifford Facebook page.

Memberships and resuscitation courses

You can download the pool rules and membership agreement 2017 from the link opposite.

All key-holders and all adults supervising children MUST have a current resuscitation certificate or an Emergency First Aid at Work certificate (these must be one which covers pool-side rescue/resuscitation) before using the pool - one of the conditions of our insurance.

The resuscitation training is only valid for a year, and so all key-holders will need a refresher each year before keys will be issued, however the membership fee does include free training for one adult.

Additional adults who will be accompanying children will also need a current certificate, so they can also sign up for these training sessions, but will need to pay £5 please.

There are limited times when the instructors can come to the village to run these for us, so these will be the only courses held here in the village. If you'd like to reserve a place on one of them please sign up - you'll find the forms for this in the village shop.

In past years we have had people reserving places and then not turning up; this takes away a place from someone else, so please, if you do find you can't manage that date after all, please let Maya or Maria know at least 48 hours before it so that someone else can go instead. We also need to ensure a full house to cover Nigel’s fees.

For further information about these courses you can speak to
Maya Plass -
Maria Sparkes -


It’s that time of year again, and we are hoping to open the pool earlier and get training done sooner too, and over a shorter period so that it can all be completed and pool users be ready to go for the season.
The dates are as follows:
25th April
4th, 9th and 11th May.

Please SIGN UP IN THE SHOP, and NOT by email. The forms will be in the shop by the beginning of next week.

The sessions will be held at The Fisherman’s Rest (downstairs room) 1900 - 2030, and all need to do this course (again) unless you have a relevant first aid certificate that can be emailed through.

Keys for 2017 will be issued on the training evening and pool rules issued etc...