CAMPAIGNERS against the closure of Temple Cowley Pools have unleashed their secret weapon – folk legend Peggy Seeger.

The American singer, who lives in Iffley Village, has written and recorded a song about the pools, which Oxford City Council wants to close and replace with a multi-million-pound leisure centre in Blackbird Leys.

She also played a benefit gig for the campaign group Save Temple Cowley Pools on Sunday and will perform at another on Friday.

Ms Seeger, 77, said: “I swim at the pool and they were outside campaigning one day and I got interested.

“I had been swimming there for about 18 months, and I had no idea the council wanted to close it down. I’ve had an interest in local campaigns for 50 or 60 years, and it struck me I could help with it.”

She said she had realised there was “a lot of clout” behind the campaign, and claimed the council figures show there is a good case for keeping it open.

She said: “It’s the only pool I have found that has steps to walk down. I can’t use the ladders they have at other pools because they hurt my feet.

“What I’ve done is made a song. Singing brings people together and music brings people together.”

She said the song featured different verses written from the points of view of different pool users, like older people, children and mothers.

She said: “There are lots of different people who use the pool – it’s used by all age groups. The song is very easy to sing, and the committee helped me get local people to sing all the verses.”

Ms Seeger was born in the US in 1935 but lived in Kent for more than 30 years and married fellow folk singer Ewan MacColl.

She returned to her native America in 1994, but by 2009 she was missing England and moved to Oxford because she had fond memories of the city.

She said: “My first solo singing engagement was here in Oxford in a club. I loved the oldness of the place. I love living here and made lots of friends.”

Ms Seeger’s best-known compositions are Gonna Be an Engineer and The Ballad of Springhill.

She has written songs dealing with ecology, home-and-housework, unions, battered wives, jobs, abortion, weddings, feminism, 9/11 and the Vietnam War.

Ms Seeger performed at The Indian Room in Cowley on Sunday, and will perform another sold-out benefit for the group at the Grove House Rotunda, in Iffley Turn on Friday.

The money raised will go towards Save Temple Cowley Pools’ legal fees as it attempts to take the proposal to close the pool to judicial review.

Campaigner Nigel Gibson’s initial attempt to get permission for a judicial review was thrown out earlier this year, but the group has appealed against the decision.

A hearing will go ahead on December 7, at which a High Court judge will decide whether or not the group can go ahead with the legal challenge.


  • Child waters
  • The Puddy in the pool
  • I’m gonna be a (pool) engineer
  • Six lords went a-swimming
  • There was an old pool