The Abbotsleigh pool

By Julie Daly Abbotsleigh Archivist (2001-2022) October 19, 2023

In 1954, a proposal was put forward to Abbotsleigh’s new Headmistress, Miss Ruth Hirst (Headmistress 1954-1957) to found a Parents and Friends’ Association. Miss Hirst, cautiously in favour, believed that such an Association would be of great benefit to the School – and so the P&F was formally constituted in 1955.

Once in existence, the P&F revealed that it was an association with a mission – a swimming pool for Abbotsleigh! With School Council approval, the pool opened seventeen months later.


On Saturday 13 April 1957, the pool was officially opened by His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, General Sir John Northcott (and grandfather of 1965 Abbotsleigh Old Girl Margaret Coburn). “Many spectators were grouped about the picturesque pool beneath the tall gum trees. The weather, so pleasant and still contributed to the success of this memorable function.” (The Weaver, August 1957)

Prior to the opening of the pool, Abbotsleigh girls had variously been shuttled to pools across Sydney: to Barker College, the Olympic Pool at North Sydney and perhaps the least accessible venue for a Wahroonga-based school, the Spit Baths.

Our pool served the Abbotsleigh community well for forty years, until there came a need for a pool to suit modern requirements – and a heated indoor pool was at the top of the list. With the opening of the new Aquatic Centre there came also an ability for Abbotsleigh girls to participate in water polo for the first time.


An elegant and gracious opening ceremony was held on a rainy and miserable October afternoon. The new Abbotsleigh Aquatic Centre was opened and dedicated on 30 October 1999 by His Excellency the Honourable Gordon Samuels AC Governor of New South Wales and the Most Reverend RH Goodhew Archbishop of Sydney. Several champion swimmers raced against our girls, State and National champion divers tested out the diving boards with breathtaking displays of new dives they would take to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and the Australian Junior Women’s Water Polo team played a mini game.

This year, 2017, marks 60 years of Abbotsleigh girls enjoying a school pool – an achievement realised initially through the vision of a group of parents who had a dream to improve the school for their own and future girls.