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 2019

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; there would be free tickets for six people if they raised sponsorship money for our community pool. They have kindly continued to do the same for each of the Swoosh swims since then.

Swoosh 2019

The Swoosh will take place on Saturday 6th July. This year 800 swimmers will take part in one swim on the morning tide, setting off from Timbers at 9.30 am. Further information may be found on the OSS website  or by contacting the Society

Swoosh fundraisers – thank you for all your generous donations

Swoosh fundraisers over the past several years have paid for the new summer cover and the winder it is stored on, a new pool filter and many other smaller bits of equipment, emergency repairs during the season, and also many of the maintenance repairs that are necessary before opening for the season; our heavy snow and icy conditions in the early part of 2018 lifted some of the paving slabs surrounding the pool, so these needed essential repair before opening – again thank you to our fundraisers .
Costs that we know will come up this year include a new winter cover, as ours has deteriorated so that it won’t take another winter – that will cost about £2000.
We will also need to replace the plastic treads on the steps up from the pool, as they are reaching the end of their days – these will cost about £200.
We also need to put by a bit each year towards a new pool liner. It’s still looking intact at the beginning of this year, but it is the original one, and eventually sunshine and chlorine will take their toll. The liner would develop cracks and start to leak, and this could happen without any warning, so we need to factor that in to our funding. A new liner at today’s prices is about £7000, so you can see why we have kept a bit back each year to save up for when that does happen.
Again the fund-raising tickets were snapped up before Christmas, and we would like to thank all the swimmers so much for their support for our pool. And this year for the first time, the OSS has offered a seventh fundraising ticket to raise money for our pre-school at The Hive; and of course the children who go to the Hive are many of those who are able to use our community pool to learn to swim. Many thanks to the Outdoor Swimming Society, and also a very grateful thanks to the seven swimmers for their generous fundraising swims. You can follow their progress here;
Imogen Noons

Max Rayner

Mark Neilson

Victoria Smith

Jess Elvidge

Joanna Halstead


  • 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:

Ros Brousson - general enquiries
Tel: 01548 550792
Email: [email protected]

Peter Smith - for reporting faults or damage
Tel: 01548 550272
Email: [email protected]


All the maintenance and servicing of equipment has been done ready for the 2019 season, and once the weather has improved we are good to go! The water quality is 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. Once the pool is open the solar panels make a large contribution to the water temperature keeping it regularly at 21' and over, so the pool can remain open for the summer from the first week in May (provisional date - to be advised nearer the time)

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 2019 from the link opposite.

All key-holders and all adults supervising children MUST have a current resuscitation certificate after attending our training sessions, 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 in the family who will be accompanying children will also need a current certificate, so they can also sign up for these training sessions, there will be an extra charge of £5 for this 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.

For everybody who books a training session, there is a £10 deposit, and this will be deducted from the final membership payment. We have had to introduce this unfortunately because 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 know at least 48 hours before, and make sure that you remove your name from the list in the shop, so that someone else can go instead. We also need to ensure a full house to cover Nigel’s fees.

Information about the course and membership is given with the forms for signing up in the shop, please have a look through before signing up.


It’s that time of year again, and we are hoping to open the pool early again this year if the weather is good enough at the beginning of May, so keep your fingers crossed!

The training sessions will be held on the following dates;
Tuesday 30th April
Wednesday 8th May
Tuesday 14th and 21st May
Forms to sign up are now at the shop - all the information you will need to know is there, and a £10 deposit is required in order to book a place (that will be deducted from the final membership payment)
Please SIGN UP IN THE SHOP, and NOT by email.

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

Keys for 2019 will be issued on the training evening and pool rules issued etc...