School spirit - the battle for the Cannon Hill State School swimming pool
August 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Cannon Hill State School. The school was officially opened on 16 August 1915. Surprisingly State Library of Queensland's photographic collection contains only six historical photographs of the school, and all six proudly feature the school's swimming pool which was opened in 1922. When you examine newspaper reports around the time you can appreciate why Cannon Hill State School were so proud of their new swimming pool.
Several Brisbane schools had introduced swimming pools by this time, and the Cannon Hill State School Committee were determined that their students should not be disadvantaged. To raise the capital necessary the committee set about planning fundraisers. On May 28, 1921 the committee organised a fair, which was opened by the Acting Premier, William Gillies. During the opening Gillies apologised that the government could not contribute to the fund. The Telegraph newspaper stated - "He said he regretted the government had been unable make any special donation towards the fund, but he knew that every one would agree with him when he emphasised that the needs of the outback children in regard to instruction had to be met as far as possible, before the recreation requirements of the more privieged city schools". Undaunted the committee pressed on with its fundraising measures.
Finally on December 9, 1922, the Cannon Hill State School swimming pool was officially opened by Minister for Education John Huxham, who commended the fundraising skills of the committee, made more remarkable by the fact Cannon Hill was not a wealthy suburb. The concrete pool was 60 feet long by 20 feet wide and had reportedly cost 399 pounds and 15 shillings ($31,000 today). The Brisbane Telegraph described the events on the opening day - "A display of swimming and of rescue methods was given by Miss Elsie Venning (world's breast stroke lady champion), who was assisted by Miss Lily Venning, while members of the Commercial, Valley, and South Brisbane Swimming Clubs indulged in fancy diving and swimming".
At the time of the opening only 28 pupils attending Cannon Hill State School could swim, however the headmaster was committed to ensure all pupils would learn.