Black Hill pool's pioneer family fuming at council decision

Jean McKinnon, the granddaughter of Walter Jones, who played a key role in the establishment of the Black Hill Swimming Pool, is devastated that it will close. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCE

Jean McKinnon, the granddaughter of Walter Jones, who played a key role in the establishment of the Black Hill Swimming Pool, is devastated that it will close. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCE

THE family of a man who was instrumental in building the Black Hill Swimming Pool has been devastated by the news the facility will close.

David Armstrong and Jean McKinnon, grandchildren of Walter Jones, who was a key player behind the establishment of the pool in the 1940s, were hopeful the council would not make the decision to close the pool when they spoke to The Courier before Wednesday night’s council meeting. 

However, the City of Ballarat voted to close the Chisholm Street facility. 

Mr Jones, along with other members of the Back Hill Progress Association, spent the best part of two decades fund-raising for the facility which opened on December 2, 1967.

Mr Armstrong said the entire situation made him “angry”.

“The purpose was to give kids a bloody swimming pool,” he said. 

“I was very angry because I knew how hard poppa had worked for it. He was a pretty renowned man around Ballarat in those days.”

Mr Armstrong’s sister Jean McKinnon echoed her brother’s feelings and said she was quite young when the fund-raising work was being completed by her grandfather and other community members.

“I was very angry because I knew how hard poppa had worked for it." - David Armstrong

“I feel quite passionately about it because a lot of people in the community worked so hard for it,” she said.

“It is very sad that after 60 years we have to fight to keep something that is right.”

Programs for the Black Hill Progress Association annual flower show from as early as 1950 show residents donating their own money each year in the hope that they would one day see the pool built.

“My parents would have donated money to that and so would have many other people’s parents,” Mr Armstrong said.

“History is relevant here, the history of the men who worked so hard to get the pool built in the first place.”

“It is just so sad.”

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