History of Galston’s beloved Pool

On Saturday 3rd February 2024 the Galston Aquatic Centre was reopened after a major refurbishment. 

The Galston Aquatic Centre is a highly valued asset for the rural community and it has been since it was first opened nearly 55 years ago, on Saturday, 11th October 1969. Back then, delivery of the pool was described at the opening as “a fine example of Council – community cooperation”. 

Talk of a community pool for the rural area of Hornsby commenced in the 1950s and local residents were fiercely committed to see it become a reality. And they really wanted it to be a special facility. 

To get things moving in council, the Galston community managed to get one of their more active residents elected onto Council in 1968. Councillor Charles William Rogers drove the support and approvals within Council and the community did the rest. 

Of course, the biggest challenge for any piece of infrastructure is the cost. However, the determined rural residents saw this as only another hurdle for them to jump over to achieve their ultimate goal. 

Incredibly the Galston community overwhelmingly supported a special rate variation, applied on just the local Galston residents, in order to pay for their new pool. However, to keep this burden to a minimum the community was also willing to get their hands dirty, literally. 

Resident volunteers were led by a local man, “Red” Hansen. He was described in the local media as “a tiger for voluntary work who never seemed to be off the job”, throughout the entire construction period of the pool. 

Galston locals physically cleared the land for their new pool. Red Hansen, who was an earth-moving contractor by trade, then moved in with his machinery to prepare the earthworks readying the site for construction. As part of his labour of love, Red also tidied up the grounds to prepare it for the final landscaping work. 

Community fundraising was undertaken. This was led by the Dural & District Progress Association, whose members also provided voluntary labour. 

The pool facility was designed by renown and award-winning Hornsby architect, Ross Aynsley. 

Aynsley was a local WW2 veteran who designed many impressive buildings in Hornsby in the 1950s and 60s. This included Hornsby’s CWA building (in 1958) and (in 1956) the Hornsby War Memorial Hall building, that is still located next to Hornsby RSL Club. 

The construction work was undertaken by WJ Bryant, with the builder’s foreman, Eric Bliss, given the challenging but welcome task of managing the volunteer labour continuously provided for the job by Galston locals. 

The enormous contribution by the community kept costs to a minimum and when facility was completed it came out at just $120K. 

Originally the pool at Galston was officially known as The Hills Community Swimming Pool

At the opening of the new 25 metre indoor heated pool, by Shire President Gordon Curby, appropriately, he announced that the contract to manage the new facility had been awarded to a Galston local, Mr J. Lois. 

At the opening Australian freestyle champion swimmer and Olympic medallist, Greg Rogers, was invited to swim the first 100 metres. He set a pool record of 58 seconds, swum over four laps. I am not sure if anyone is keen to have a crack at that here today? 

Over the years times have changed, as have workplace & health safety measures. This prevents the hands on volunteer contribution that was once enjoyed when building community facilities, such as this, in the 1960s and 70s. 

Galston Aquatic Centre Reopening Soon!

However, one thing that has not changed is this community absolute love for this highly valued facility. 

When Council realised much more work was required than what was originally identified, being just a simple roof replacement, the available funding was stretched well beyond what Council could manage. 

In 2021, Matt Kean was approached by Hornsby Council and asked to support a NSW Government grant application, so the rebuild of Galston Pool could be completed to the highest possible standard. 

At that stage Matt already had residents from Hornsby’s rural community frustrated and screaming that they did not have their public pool available, and he said, it was an easy thing for him to throw his support behind Council’s, ultimately successful, Greater Cities & Regional Sport Facility Fund application. This was signed off by the then Sport’s Minister Stuart Ayres in early 2022.

Finally, we can reopen this magnificent pool at Galston. 

It means a lot to have this aquatic facility once again available to the residents of Galston and surrounding district. It will also allow for the Galston Swim Club to be revived and return to once again become the strong club it was before the pool had to close. 

In addition, it is a great relief to Di Coxon-Ellis, the President of the Hills Masters Swimming Club, and her members, who have now returned to swim here at Galston, rather than having make the journey all the way over to Hornsby. Being without Galston Pool had a terrible impact on Masters’ membership numbers. But, now with their return to the rebuilt Galston Pool, the Club’s membership has already been significantly boosted! 

The Hornsby RSL Frogs Swim Club can once again use the 25 metre heated indoor pool facility for their swimming meets, rather than the colder Hornsby Aquatic Centre. 

In addition, many local schools are very pleased the new facility at Galston is set up to once again host school swimming carnivals.