Bedford's Robinson Pool: 'Much cherished' facility celebrates 50 years

Image source, Bedfordshire Archives Service

A "much cherished" swimming pool that was built by a multi-millionaire philanthropist has celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Robinson Pool in Bedford opened in October 1969.

It was donated to the town by Sir David Robinson, who made his fortune in the TV and radio rental business, and he also founded Robinson College in Cambridge and a maternity hospital.

The pool cost £350,000 and is now run by the Fusion Lifestyle leisure group.

The building underwent a £1.3m renovation that was completed in 2016.

Image source, Bedfordshire Archives Service
Image caption,
Sir David Robinson stipulated that the pool was to be built in Bedford Park
Image source, Bedfordshire Archives Service
Image caption,
The main pool is 33m (108ft)
Image source, Bedfordshire Archives Service
Image source, Bedfordshire Archives Service
Image caption,
The main pool is 33m (108ft) long and has diving platforms

Sir David (1904-1987), originally from Cambridge, moved to Bedford in 1930, where he initially took over a garage before making his fortune in the home entertainment rental market.

By 1962, his firm, Robinson Rentals was making a profit of £1.5m a year and in 1968 he sold it to Granada for £8m.

He set up the Robinson Charitable Trust and beneficiaries included the pool and The Rosie Maternity Unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, which he named after his mother.

In 1977, work started on Robinson College after he gave £18m to Cambridge University to build a new college.

He also built the Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket to pursue his love of horseracing.

Image source, Fusion Lifestyle
Image caption,
The updated building now has a gym, studios, crèche and a café

Mr Robinson tended to shun the limelight for his charitable deeds.

Peter Milloy, fellow archivist at Robinson College, said Mr Robinson had a "single-minded no-nonsense approach to getting things done".

Rob Jennings, from Fusion Lifestyle, said: "The centre is a much cherished and important facility that offers something for everyone."

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