Halcyon days: Ipoh swimming pool, 1925


(Source: Arkib Negara Malaysia)

You may be excused if you think this is a photo of a kolam lombong, because it sure looks like one.

Margaret Shennan in her book Out in the Midday Sun described how swimming was a popular pastime amongst British families in Malaya, which led to a noticeable expansion of swimming clubs and a growing number of private garden pools in the inter-war years. She described how most of the swimming pools in those days were merely created by a little (and ingenious) manipulation of nature! They made pools from ayor sungei:

… Penang Swimming Club was a second home, while ‘There was a very nice small swimming pool at North Labis Estate, made by damming a stream that flowed in from their Jungle Reserve’,…

Or even ayor laut:
The coastal pool of Tanjong Kling, near Malacca, had a simple pagar. The Club had a ‘distinctive conical thatched roof. The pool was filled with sea water… Diving platforms, springboards and a wooden chute had been installed and fresh sea water was pumped in through a pipe covered with wire mesh to keep out fish, sea-snakes and flotsam and jetsam.’

We do not have any further description of the said pool in Ipoh but we believe a similar concept of using what nature had made available (in the case of a lombong, what man has made available) was good enough! Perhaps this is why some natural water landmarks are called pools, like the Burmese and Austin Pools in Taiping.

Drop us an e-mail or a comment below if you can help with any information on this old pool in Ipoh.

Reference: Shennan M. Halcyon Days. In: Out In The Midday Sun: The British In Malaya 1880-1960. London: John Murray; 2000. p. 122-123.


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