Supporters remember the original fight for Carss Park Pool

Former St George resident Claire Mercer has remembered how her father, Herbert Fibbins joined the community campaign in the 1960s to build a pool at Carss Park.

Mrs Mercer said it was the efforts of people like her father, who asked many local sports clubs to help raise money for a pool at Carss Park, that showed the depth of community feeling for the pool.

The feeling is still strong and is expected to be shown when the Save Carss Park Pool action group holds a community picnic for supporters outside the pool which was permanently closed by Georges River Council on July 23 after pipes were found to be leaking water into Kogarah Bay.

"When I grew up, we lived in Church Street, Blakehurst and I would walk down to Carss Park in summer to swim," Mrs Mercer said.

"We swam in the river in the 1950s and 60s because it was what we did in those days.

"The area wasn't very developed back then. It was just a tidal pool with a net and a couple of pontoons. If there was a strong wind we swam between the pontoons.

"The water was okay except when we had heavy rain, then we would come out of the water covered with black scum on our faces. It wasn't very pleasant.

"That's why Dad wanted the pool built. Dad wasn't a swimmer but he was worried about the us swimming in the bay.

"He went to Kogarah Council with the costings and the council said they didn't have the money to build it.

"He said if they raise half the money he would raise half. They laughed at him but he did it.

"Dad had no money himself. He was originally a fitter and turner with the railways and had an accident at work in the 1940s when he had a fall and suffered major spinal injuries. After this, they gave him an office job.

"Dad was a member of the St George Cricket Club, the St George Hockey Club and many other community groups.

"He went around the clubs and asked for their support to raise money for a pool at Carss Park.

"I just wanted the swimming club to know some of the history of the pool."

For his community efforts, Mr Fibbins received the Order of Australia Medal in 1969. He died of asbestosis in 1994.

Mr Fibbins was one of many local people who worked to build a pool at Carss Park.

"According to an article by the Kogarah Historical Society, "After 30 years of swimming in the tidal pool people were beginning to grow dissatisfied with the facility that had so delighted their parents in the 1920s.

"By the 1960s people did not want to swim in the mud hole, as the tidal pool was referred to at low tide.

"Mrs Doris Hatton and Mrs Elizabeth Corry, both active members of the Kogarah Bay Progress Association, convened the first meeting to discuss establishing a full sized Olympic Pool at Carss Park.

"Many organizations committed themselves to raising funds and on February 12, 1964 the Building Fund was able to forward to the Council its first cheque."

Supporters of the Carss Park Pool will hold a community picnic this Saturday to reconnect and keep the fighting spirit burning.

"They closed the doors so suddenly that people didn't get a chance to say goodbye or swap phone numbers or email addresses," Save Carss Park Pool action group member Natalie Mort said.

"This will be a chance to reconnect and continue those friendships that were made over so many years of swimming at the pool," Natalie said.

Long-time coach at Carss Park pool, Dick Caine and his wife Jenny have been invited to attend, along with Georges River councillors.

People are being asked to bring chairs, snacks, their Carss Park Pool and Team Caine gear, and their Carss Park pool community spirit.

The picnic will be held at Carss Park, next to the pool, on Saturday, September 14 at 2pm.

For further details, contact Natalie on 0419 264 564.

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