Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXIII No. 24, April 1-15, 2024

Snippets of sports in the past from the Corporation archives

Stadium and Swimming Pool, as seen in the 1950s

‘Tis that time of the year when thoughts turn automatically to the swimming pool. And it is also that time of the year when the IPL is in progress though it is debatable if this is indeed cricketing weather. We feature here two write ups – one on the Chennai Corporation Swimming Pool by the Marina, and the other on the Corporation stadium, both sourced from the Madras Corporation Chronicle, a quarterly that was brought out in the 1950s. These articles are from the issue dated October 1956.

– Deputy Editor

Australian Cricket Test Match to be played at the Corporation Stadium, People’s Park, Madras

The biggest Test Cricket match ever to be played in the Corporation Stadium, People’s Park, is going to be staged in the month of October 1956 on the 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th. The first Test match played at the Stadium grounds was between the S.J.O.C. and India during January 1954. This was followed by another Test match between the New Zealand and India in January 1956; but the coming Australian Test match, will prove a bigger attraction than the previous two Test matches for obvious reasons. All these were made possible because the Corporation was able to persuade the Madras Cricket Association, the Controlling Body for Cricket in Madras State, to hold Test cricket matches in the Stadium by offering all facilities. The understanding between the Corporation and the Madras Cricket Association is of mutual benefit, offering at the same time various facilities, amenities and comforts to the spectators who watch the big cricket matches. The importance of the match has increased since there are going to be only three Australian Test matches in India the first being at Madras and the players will be fresh and it is expected that a full and powerful team of Australians will play at Madras. Though the Australian team is formidable and contain such world famous starplayers as Keith Miller, Neil Harvey, Ray Lindwall etc., we may be still confident of acquitting ourselves very well because we have one of the best spin ­attacks in persons like Gupte and Mankad. Tremendous enthusiasm and eagerness are prevailing in the City and as well as in the mufussil in anticipation of this match. It is understood that many people are coming to Madras for just witnessing this match. Preparations are going ahead in the Stadium for the successful conduct of this match. The only thing is the rain and it should not interfere with the match. Even for this contingency precautions are being taken in the shape of manufacturing special device for covering the pitch etc., and other various improvements learnt by experience during the two previous Test matches, are being carried out. It is just now learnt that Mr. Poly Umrigar has been selected to lead India against the Australians. The choice could not be more fitting and happier since the last Test match played at the Stadium ended successfully under his captaincy. We can say without any fear of contradiction that the Criket enthusiasts are in for veritable feast of high class cricket and whatever the result may be, it is sure as in the case of all games, the game will be played in the true sporting spirit and pave the way for better understanding and happier relations between the Countries concerned. This is one of the important aspects of all the sports which overcome all racial, sectarian and other differences.

– J.V.S. Rao
(Officer in Charge of Stadia)

* * *

The Marina Swimming Pool is one of which the Corporation can be justly proud. This beautiful Pool which is the biggest in the East and second biggest in the World is situated on the Marina.

The Swimming Pool with the attached Marina Canteen (which was first used as a Recreation Club for military personnel) was constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.5 lakhs out of the Governor’s War Fund in the year 1940, during the Second World War. After the War, the Swimming Pool was run by the Central Y.M.C.A., Madras, for over 2 years; and was handed over to the Corporation of Madras in the year 1948.

Corporation swimming pool, photographed in the 1970s.

The Swimming Pool is open for 3 days in a week (viz) Sat, Sun and Mon. from 6 a. m. to 6 p.m. The Pool is of the Olympic dimensions 100 metres x 30 metres. Water is pumped into the Pool from 2 big wells. All facilities for moon-light swimming are also provided. Annual Inter Collegiate and Inter University meets are conducted in the Pool.

It may be, of interest to state that Miss. Betty Slade, world famous diving champion, Mr. Johny Johnson the British Swimming Coach and Aquatic Comedian gave swimming and diving demonstrations in the Pool in May and Aug. 1949 Dr. Samy Lee, the world famous diving Champion performed the diving demonstrations in the Pool in the year 1953.

The recreation centre attracts many foreign visitors and tourists from different parts of the country, besides a large number of citizens of Madras, both men and women and children.

Special permission was granted by the Corporation to allow Naval Ratings from all over the world to swim free of charge whenever any ship touches the Madras Harbour. H. E. the Governor of Madras and his personal staff visited the Pool for a swim on 23rd Oct 1955. Nearly 30,000 to 35,000 bathers are using the Pool in a year.

– T. Somasundaram
(Swimming Instructor)

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