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26-39 50th ANNIVERSARY:SPN Master pages 15/09/2009 10:22 Page 28
spnfeature Celebrating 50 years of Swimming Pool News
The first “Austin Mini
In 1959 a fledgling swimming pool industry out of office until 1964, by which time the 7” called an Austin
in Britain was looking to persuade a small Conservatives had formed the government Seven from the
but very enthusiastic group of customers. for 13 years. British Motor
They were setting a trend by investing in a The impact of the Conservative Corporation and
swimming pool. Government meant there was confidence designed by Sir
Designs were basic, the profile of the about spending to build asset value – Alec Issigonis went
industry was low. There wasn’t a great deal and enjoyment. The early outdoor on sale for £497 in 1959, making it one
of choice. The companies which were swimming pools did exactly that – added of the cheapest saloon cars available in
pioneering the industry traded with very a touch of glamour. answer to the fuel shortage and petrol
small customer lists. Much of the trade took its ideas and rationing caused by the Suez Canal crisis
And when it came to advertising and inspiration from the United States. A small three years before. The car had a four-
promotion the industry was to say the least number of specialist pool companies were cylinder water-cooled transverse mounted
off the pace. already pool businesses in 1959. In the 850 cc engine, four speed gearbox and
But it had one or two things going for it. early years in-ground swimming pool kits front wheel drive. Because of the design
Swimming pools were being seen for the were made of wood and vinyl. and suspension the ride was hard but the
first time as a status symbol. Hot tubs were In the United States the industry was handling was legendary for a cheap non –
a thing very much for the future and the developing fast and already had a very sports car. The name Mini was not used
vast majority of pools were outdoor and active and ambitious trade association, on the cars until 1962 as the press and
unheated. NSPI. It was developing products and the public had already renamed the car.
The average cost of a home was parts, new designs and running influential The most popular British-made car
£24,000 and a new car could be yours for advertising and promotional campaigns. ever – 5.4 million – sold in popularity
£400 or £500. In 1959, United States Patent as it was featured in movies, driven by
The good news for the young trade was No4195622 was applied for which typified trendy pop stars and movie celebrities
there was a Conservative Government in the changes the industry was about ready and had considerable success as a rally
place. It was two years earlier when the to experience. car winning the Monte Carlo Rally in
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had told “A swimming pool cover having at least a 1964 / 1965 and 1967.
the country: “You’ve never had it so good.” portion of which is made of material allowing
He was addressing a large meeting of solar energy to pass through co-acts with a Castro took over in Cuba
Conservatives in Bedford when he made solar heating mat in the pool to retain heat In 1959, Fidel Castro took control of
his point clear: “Go around the country, go developed by the mat. The dark-coloured Cuba by force and remained its
to the farms and you will see a state of mat has a specific gravity sufficiently greater dictatorial leader for nearly five decades.
prosperity such as we have never had in than that of water to allow the mat to sink to He arrived in Havana to cheering crowds
my lifetime – nor indeed in the history of the bottom of the pool. A stop member and assumed the post of commander-in-
this country,” he said. positioned adjacent the edge of the marginal chief of the military. In February Castro
“Indeed let us be frank about it - most portion of the cover is engageable with was sworn in as Prime Minister. As the
of our people have never had it so good.” weighted members and the weighted leader of the only communist country in
As for the Conservatives, at the next members are engageable with an abutment the Western Hemisphere, Castro has for
general election after Macmillan’s speech, member positioned on the deck of the pool 50 years been the focus of international
in October 1959, they gained their highest after moving a predetermined distance controversy.
ever vote (13,749,830), and increased their which locks the cover in position after
majority from 58 to 100. Labour was kept allowing limited movement of the cover.”
Barbie appeared
on the scene
Barbie , the fashion doll made it s first
appearance in 1959, manufactured by
the American toy company Mattel.
The first SR-NI hovercraft crosses the American businesswoman Ruth Handler
English Channel from Dover to Calais 6
The first section of M1 Motorway the
opens between the present junctions is credited with the creation of the doll
in just over two hours. 5 and 18. using a German doll called Bild Lilli as
her inspiration. Barbie went on to be an
Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston important part of the fashion toy doll
becomes MGM’s biggest award 7
Billy Wright makes his 70th
consecutive appearance for England, market for 50 years. The first Barbie doll
winner with 11 Academy Awards, a record a record that still stands. wore a black and white zebra striped
held until 1998 when Titanic becomes the swimsuit and signature ponytail. The
next film to equal the record.
Charles de Gaulle inaugurated as the doll was marketed as a “Teen-age
first president of the 5th French Republic. Fashion Model”, with her
“Rawhide” with Clint Eastwood clothes created by Mattel
premieres on CBS TV.
The US president Dwight D Eisenhower fashion designer Charlotte
grants statehood to Hawaii. Johnson. The first Barbie
Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The dolls were manufactured
Big Bopper are killed in a plane crash.
Two monkeys, Able and Miss Baker in Japan and over
are the first living beings to 350,000 Barbie dolls
Simon Cowell is born this year – on successfully return to Earth from space were sold during the first
October 7th. aboard a flight. year of production.
28 Swimming Pool News October 09 >>> Digital edition available at
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